‘Don’t think I am making up my mind to peg out. On the contrary, I have the strongest reason for wanting to stay alive. But I want to get a clear idea of how long I am likely to last, and not just be jollied along the way doctors do’ (CEJL, iv, 563). Thus one of our great modern writers in a letter composed shortly before the death for which he was as certainly prepared as he was surely not resigned to. There are no prizes for guessing an identity that style and content together so openly confess — who else could it be but George Orwell? The style is so unmistakably the man: doggedly unrhetorical, clinically detached even in a matter so agonisingly personal (remember his description, neutral as a police notebook, of being wounded in Spain), resolute against any histrionic hint, with the slangily anti-heroic form intimidating the potentially embarrassing valour of the substance.
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