Sunday, January 04, 2009

George Orwell quotes

Considering I just finished a book by him, I figure it's time I listed some of my favorite quotes from British writer George Orwell. Some of these are from the book I just read, but many are not, some from non-fiction and others from fiction. Keep in mind most of these quotes were written during or right after World War II.

"Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money."

"The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude."

"When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing."

"All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery."

"Good prose is like a window pane."

"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me."

"In any case I find that by the time you have perfected any style of writing, you have always outgrown it."

"It is very rare to meet a foreigner, other than an American, who can distinguish between English and Scots or even English and Irish."

"It should be noted that there is now no intelligentsia that is not in some sense 'left.' "

"Patriotism and intelligence will have to come together again."

" 'Pure' pacifism ... can only appeal to people in very sheltered positions."

"An army of unemployed led by millionaires quoting the Sermon on the Mount -- that is our danger."

"However little we may like it, toughness is the price of survival."

"Patriotism has nothing to do with Conservatism."

"Many political words are similarly abused. ... Words of this kind are often used in a consciously dishonest way. That is, the person who uses them has his own private definition, but allows his hearer to think he means something quite different."

"In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible."

"In prose, the worst thing you can do with words is to surrender them."

"Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

"Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket."

"All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting."

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."

"Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it."

"Enlightened people seldom or never possess a sense of responsibility."

"Four legs good, two legs bad."

"He was an embittered atheist, the sort of atheist who does not so much disbelieve in God as personally dislike Him."

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever."

"Liberal: a power worshipper without power."

"Men can only be happy when they do not assume that the object of life is happiness."

"On the whole, human beings want to be good, but not too good, and not quite all the time."

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

"Prolonged, indiscriminate reviewing of books is a quite exceptionally thankless, irritating and exhausting job. It not only involves praising trash but constantly inventing reactions towards books about which one has no spontaneous feeling whatever."

"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words, it is war minus the shooting."

"So much of left-wing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don't even know that fire is hot. "

"The atom bombs are piling up in the factories, the police are prowling through the cities, the lies are streaming from the loudspeakers, but the earth is still going round the sun. "

"The best books... are those that tell you what you know already."

"The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it."

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

"War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it."

"War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil."

"Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

"When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic."

1 comment:

NewGuyDave said...

"As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me."

That made me laugh out loud. These are good, and you can definitely get a feeling of the times he lived in.