In a 1950 commentary by English novelist Edward Morgan Forster, the effects
of a strong, well-constructed essay on an individual can readily be seen.
The writings of George Orwell have forced Forster to delve into the depths
of his own thoughts, even going so far as to prompt him to put those
thoughts down on paper for others to evaluate. In his article, Forster
analyzes, with critical intentions, an anthology of essays by George Orwell,
collectively entitled Shooting an Elephant. He uses these pieces to discuss
what he believes are Orwell's pejorative ideas and objectives for writing.
It doesn't take long for Forster to begin to describe the deeper problems
with Orwell's habits and style. Because of Orwell's tendency to focus on
unpleasant topics, and because of his desire to share that subject matter
with the rest of the world--almost immediately--Forster declares Orwell a
nagger. The raw fact that Orwell never seemed to let up on those
disconcerting issues troubled Forster, who felt that constant narrative
delving into unpleasantness should be avoided.
Later in his essay, Forster accuses Orwell of continuously looking into the
future with the intention of "stamping upon [the] embryos" (303) of possible
change, good or bad, which could occur in a people. Through this description
of Orwell, along with Orwell's goal to "ameliorate a world which is bound to
be unhappy" (303), Forster almost implies that Orwell attempts to play God.
Throughout his commentary, Forster rei...
... middle of paper ...
corruption. Overall, Orwell knew the important components of political and
social commentary as writing, just as Forster did when he wrote Passage to
India. Yet, what sets Orwell apart was in his ability to remain candid and
honest in a world where most felt it was only right to examine
unpleasantness at selected times. His style and topic selections continue to
evoke powerful responses from his readers, the true trait of an effective
writer. He realized that the ideas and views in his essays did not have to
be palpable in order to be successful, and it seems Forster just did not
Forster, E. M. "Shooting an Elephant." in George Orwell, editor Jeffrey
Meyers, London: Routledge and Paul, 1975, pages 302-04.
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