Sunday, June 06, 2010

Orwell and the pain of writing.

George Orwell wrote: "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness."

[While ill] he kept working on the book, [then called, The Last Man in Europe] even after in 1947 he was confined to his bed and diagnosed with tuberculosis. He wrote from bed, and by longhand when his typewriter was taken away from him in the hospital. He went through an intense drug treatment in the hopes of curing his TB, which caused him mouth blisters, throat ulcers that made it hard to swallow, rashes, and flaking skin, and his hair and nails fell out. He was losing weight, had fevers, and his right arm had to be put in a cast, but he kept writing with his left. Under pressure from his publisher, he finally finished the book by the end of the year, and had to retype the messy manuscript himself.

He decided to change the title — from The Last Man in Europe to Nineteen Eighty-Four. It was published in June of 1949. It was a huge success — the critics loved it, and it sold well. But his health got even worse, and by September he was back in the hospital. In January of 1950, just seven months after Nineteen Eighty-Four was published, Orwell died at the age of 46.

Adapted from The Writer's Almanac, a daily ezine containing a poem and some literary history. The above comes from the edition published on June 6, 2010.

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