Thursday, October 9, 2008

George Orwell's boring blog

Earlier this year, the Orwell Trust, overseers of the Orwell Prize, apparently one of the most prestigious literary prizes in Britain, announced that they would be publishing George Orwell's personal diaries as blog entries online, 70 years to the date after each. I immediately added the blog to my Netvibes page. How fascinating it would be, I thought, to read the daily thoughts of this great writer, who becomes more a favorite with every piece of his that I read? Especially given the timing, just before Hitler in Munich and as the world spirals towards war.

The diary started on August 9, 1938. Sometime between whenever they announced the blog in July and the first post on August 9, 2008, I forgot the descriptions offered by the Trust in the announcement. As such I was quite disappointed by the first couple of months of the blog. It was boring. First is about a month of updates on the weather (some of them repeated and four-words long) and on the snakes his gardeners killed. Then his trip to North Africa, apparently to recuperate from grave illness.* This was more detailed and substantial, but to be honest, I've never been a big fan of travelogues, at least in written form. I'd usually rather experience the place myself. To be fair, that's definitely the narrow opinion of a person born into a comfortable life in the late-20th-Century age of relatively cheap airfare.

Anyway, in the blog/diary, geopolitics made its first appearance yesterday:
After the crisis was over everyone here showed great relief and was much less stolid about it than they had been during the trouble itself. Educated Frenchwoman in official position, known to us personally, writes letter of congratulation to Daladier. It is perfectly evident from the tone of the press that even in the big towns where there is a white proletariat there was not the smallest enthusiasm for the idea of going to war for the sake of Czechoslovakia.
This is fascinating, but I'm still looking forward to more. Before this paragraph he talked about the low quality of the newspaper, and immediately after he starts talking about Moroccan crafts.

Incidentally, the title of this post is a purposefully incendiary attempt to lure Orwell into a blog fight. He never responds to comments, so I don't know how successful this will be. You hear me, George? Your blog sucks! Weaksauce!

* I want to go back to this point. I'm amazed by the idea of a long-term international vacation of recuperation. On our honeymoon, Melissa and I got fleeting tastes of this sort of leisure in Venice and on the Etruscan Coast, and we liked it. Understatement**. None of the other few times I've been abroad - including the rest of our honeymoon - would be recommendable to someone recuperating from hemorrhage in the lungs. To the contrary, these trips, none of which could be classified as "extreme" by any stretch, have typically required recuperation upon return to the US. Maybe I'm a wuss?

** Seriously, these places are amazing.

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