Orwell and Didion, two distinguished authors that each had their own reasons for writing. Both Orwell and Didion each took time breaking down parts of their lives to give examples of the nature of their writing and how it developed through their lives. Some have taken it upon themselves to classify Orwell and Didion as similar. While it is true that they have some slight similarities, that’s only to be expected of two individuals in the same profession. When you start to dig through their words it soon becomes overwhelming on just how different they are as both writers, authors, and people.
Orwell had a lonely childhood. He however had a notion that he would be a writer. He even described it like it was an inescapable destiny. “I knew when I grew up I should be a writer… I tried to abandon this idea, but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature… ”. (90) This forever looming moment of self discovery stayed with him through his childhood through young adulthood where he later tried to rebel against his ever apparent nature.
Orwell sensed that he had a power over words, learning to harness his gift as he toiled through the process of learning exactly what kind of writer he wanted to be. Orwell soon was ruling the literary power that he then strengthened with exercising his imagination. (91) Didion didn’t seem to do these types of mental exercises until later. Giving Orwell a distinct advantage over the the world that she was finding herself breaking into. She didn’t have Orwell’s uncanny insight into what she was going to be. In fact from what she mentioned, she didn’t have any insight into her own mind much less her driving ambition.
Just the opposite of Orwell, instead of her controlling her imagination, Didion was experiencing the sensation of words and simple images having a power over her. (225) As they defined their styles, the differences only increased. Especially as Orwell gained his new political purpose infused writing style. “Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction. ” This new element of his writing drew a iron line in the sand between himself and Didion. This is one of the most distinct contrasts in their writing.
Didion’s writing was for herself, about herself, to cope with herself. It was her passion and her sickness. She was the primary benefactor of her writings, It was a way to be able to sort things out in her head. (225) Orwell wrote for entirely different reasons. He didn’t write for himself through artistic pursuit alone. He instead started to imprint his writings with purpose and meaning, to get his own ideas into the heads of others. Orwell wanted to change their minds on subjects he felt passionate about. This was the core of his writing, to write for others; to influence others.
He wanted to make an impact on their thoughts and their views; To change them and subsequently change the world around him. Didion in her essay never referenced Orwell besides an opening statement about ‘stealing’ the title of said essay from him. She didn’t point out any similarities between them at all, how could she? They had nothing in common except for both of them being writers. Orwell’s reasons for writing is driven, fueled and dragged with two primary concepts that he listed: Political Purpose and Aesthetic enthusiasm.
Orwell’s dream and goal is to make political writing into an art. Didion’s reasons were self discovery to formulate her thoughts and to get out the images she see’s in her head. This was not a want for her, it is a need. She needs her writing to figure out her own fears, wants, likes, dislikes She sights the reason behind this was not having access to her own mind, as if writing was a key to open the door. For if she had a clear mental pathway “There would have been no reason to write. ” (225) In conclusion Orwell and Didion have been different from the beginning to the end.
They have different approaches to their writing, different reasons and different outcomes. I feel almost as if they are opposites rather then reflections of one another. As my eyes scan the essays both of them have written I do not find myself thinking back to the others writing. I’m lost in each picture that they paint of themselves and the world. One is in red, the other in blue, they are both colors, but are nothing alike. They sound different, feel different, portray themselves and their basis-es and reasons differently. They are in one word: different.
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