Calloo, callay! It arrived the other day, shipping from powells.com free because I ordered it with another book and got the total over 50 dollars: 1,369 pages of the collected essays of George Orwell. In fact, an almost cubical book. A good solid Everyman edition too, properly hard bound, with no ample margins but with good type on good paper (plus a Free Bonus of a built-in bookmark). A striking contrast to the crummy paper and fuzzy type that Hodder & Staughton used to realize its quite admirable project of reissuing the entire corpus of Lord Peter Wimsey in freshly typeset editions that in most cases are low in typos and sometimes even have corrections for textual corruptions that had crept in over the years; but after all, those are just trade-paperback mysteries and not worthy of the treatment that Harper Collins gave to C. S. Lewis.
My Extremely Significant Other (I call her my little four-sigma) is not impressed by Orwell, because (I think) he lacks the Poetic Muse, hanging out instead with the Political Muse. But that's fine with me. I expect to become insufferable with my masses of quotes from him. Just for the moment, though:
"Is there anyone who has written so much as a love letter in which he felt that he had said exactly what he intended? ... He gets an idea, begins trying to express it, and then, in the frightful mess of words that generally results, a pattern begins to form itself more or less accidentally. It is not by any means the pattern he wants, but it is at any rate not vulgar or disagreeable; it is "good art". He takes it, because "good art" is a more or less mysterious gift from heaven, and it seems a pity to waste it when it presents itself. Is not anyone with any degree of mental honesty conscious of telling lies all day long, both in talking and writing, simply because lies will fall into artistic shape when truth will not?
-- "New Words", April 1940(?), p. 263