In this article Jeremy Paxman pays tribute to one of England’s greatest writers.
If you want to learn how to write non-fiction, Orwell is your man. He may be known worldwide for his last two novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. But, for me, his best work is his essays.
Who would have imagined that sixteen hundred words in praise of the Common Toad, knocked out to fill a newspaper column in April 1946, would be worth reprinting sixty years later? But here it is, with many of the characteristic Orwell delights, the unglamorous subject matter, the unnoticed detail (”a toad has about the most beautiful eye of any living creature”) the baleful glare, the profound belief in humanity. Because what the piece is really about, of course, is not the toad itself, but the thrill of that most promising time of year, the spring, even as seen from Orwell’s dingy Islington flat.
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