(Reading) So writing is my sole remaining vice. It is an addiction, an illusory release, a presumptuous taming of reality, a way of expressing lightly the unbearable. That we age and leave behind this litter of dead, unrecoverable selves is both unbearable and the commonest thing in the world. It happens to everybody. In the morning light, one can write breezily, without the slightest acceleration of one's pulse, about what one cannot contemplate in the dark without turning, in panic, to God. In the dark, one truly feels that immense sliding, that turning of the vast earth into darkness and eternal cold, taking with it all the furniture, and scenery, and the bright distractions and warm touches of our lives. Even the barest earthly facts are unbearably heavy - weighted, as they are, with our personal death. Writing, in making the world light - in codifying, distorting, prettifying or verbalizing it - approaches blasphemy.
One specific example of the latter comes next on Hiltzak’s list (actually a series he has published over the month) in Orwell’s 1949 essay on Gandhi. The piece clearly names the abuses of the imperial British occupiers of India, even as it struggles against the canonization of Gandhi the man, concluding equivocally that “his character was extraordinarily a mixed one, but there was almost nothing in it that you can put your finger on and call bad.” Orwell is less ambivalent in Hiltzak’s third choice , the spiky 1946 defense of English comic writer . Wodehouse , whose behavior after his capture during the Second World War understandably baffled and incensed the British public. The last two essays on the list, “ You and the Atomic Bomb ” from 1945 and the early “ A Hanging ," published in 1931, round out Orwell's pre- and post-war writing as a polemicist and clear-sighted political writer of conviction. Find all five essays free online at the links below. And find some of Orwell's greatest works in our collection of Free eBooks .