The Limits Of Orwell

Patrick Kurp cites Irving Howe:

“Part of Orwell’s limitation as a literary critic is that he shows little taste for the prose of virtuosity: one can’t easily imagine him enjoying Sir Thomas Browne. If some windows should be clear and transparent, why may not others be stained and opaque? Like all critics who are also significant writers themselves, Orwell developed standards that were largely self-justifying: he liked the prose that’s like a window pane because that’s the kind of prose he wrote.”

I think that’s why he was so accessible to me as a boy and played such a big part in persuading me that writing was a career well worth pursuing. Because it was so easy to read, so close to the conversational English of actual speaking. Reading Evelyn Waugh or Oscar Wilde is to be transported by sheer style. Reading Orwell, one forgets style altogether. And one meets reality.