Sunday, August 2, 2009

George Orwell and An Ugly Brown Book

Something, perhaps vanity or feigned intellectualism, made me purchase an ugly brown book called Eight Modern Essayists, forth edition, copyright 1985, at Holland Township's semi-annual garage sale about a decade ago. I was a college drop out, and I was living at home while I worked and wondered what I might do next.

Like may well-intentioned book buyers, I hardly read the book.

Never read Virginia Woolf's "The Death of the Moth" or E.B. White's "Death of a Pig." Edward Hoagland's essay, "Cold Water, Warm Sun, No Biting Flies" sounds interesting, but I didn't even glance at that title until today.

I picked it up because it included one essay I had read and liked: "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell. Only 25 cents. OK, the ugly brown book goes home with me and sits on my shelf.

Eight Modern Essayists has had numerous pardons. It has remained on my shelf through many moves and garage sales, curb sales and yard sales. "What about this one?" Jared asks as we cull the bookshelves for a sale. He has the ugly brown book in his hand. "Mmm. No." "Really?"

It's only one essay that keeps Eight Modern Essayists on our bookshelf: "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell. Thirteen pages well worth seeking out.

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