Sunday, October 07, 2007

Authors North Meeting: Subhub, Geoffrey Moorhouse and George Orwell.

I have been elected to the committee of the Society of Authors northern branch. The main job of the committee is to arrange events so that should be interesting and I'm looking forward to being involved.

I enjoyed the meeting very much. In the morning we had a talk about 'Publishing For Profit' or how to make money from websites. The speaker, Miles Galliford from Subhub, was so inspiring and made me think of so many enticing possibilities that for a few moments found myself filled with a sort of capitalist euphoria.

The afternoon event was a talk by the highly regarded and prolific writer Geoffrey Moorhouse. He has written more than 20 books - ranging from travel books to novels. His most recent work THE LAST ORDER is on the dissolution of the monasteries with particular emphasis on what happened to the monks in Durham cathedral and he treated us to a reading of the final chapter. This was rather good and sounded so fascinating I am looking forward very much to reading the whole thing when it comes out in March 2008.

One of the most memorable parts of his talk was when he talked about his inspiration; namely George Orwell and his essay on Politics and the English Language which contained some excellent guidelines for clear writing:

(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.

(ii) Never us a long word where a short one will do.

(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.

(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.

(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.

(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I have just printed out the whole essay because I am a big fan of George Orwell and think I have read all of his fiction.

It was a long day but a worthwhile one. I arrived early at the station and so had two hours to watch the citizens of Leeds pass by: United fans yelled and sang drunkenly and aggressively across platforms; and girls, out for the night in scraps of skirts and sequins, giggled as they lurched by on high heels, expanses of flesh goose-pimpling in the cool air. Then, picking their way through all this, like a rogue dark thread in a garish tapestry, was a silent Muslim couple. The girl, in full veil, appeared to be very young because she was led by the hand like a child by her equally timid timid husband. And it is this scene that stays with me - this encounter between two such different worlds exciting neither comment or even, it seemed to me, much awareness of the other.


Blogger Jan said...

Lots of interesting stuff Clare and congratulations on the committee; sure you'll bring juicy ideas!

Mon Oct 08, 11:37:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Jan!

Tue Oct 09, 09:35:00 am  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...


How on earth did I miss this? Geoffrey Moorhouse! I simply adored Sun Dancing: A Vision of Medieval Ireland. It's one of the few nonfiction books I've reread.

Wed Oct 10, 10:45:00 pm  
Blogger Andrew said...

Below is a very fine piece of writing of which Orwell would surely approve:

"'in abstentia' - the realities of legitimation"
The GENERAL CONTEXT of such use is:
'in abstentia' - the realities of legitimation: In order to understand that the social effects of the common or learned (i.e., taught, as by pedagogic communications) illusions (maya), which are sociologically implied in the system of relations between the educational system (the School) and the structure of class relations, are not illusory, it is necessary to go back to the principle which governs this system of relations. Legitimation of the established order, by the School, presupposes social recognition of the legitimacy of the School, a recognition resting in turn on misrecognition of the delegation of authority which establishes that legitimacy, or, more precisely, on misrecognition of the social conditions of a harmony between structures and habitus sufficiently perfect to engender misrecognition of the habitus as a product reproducing what produces it and correlative recognition of the structure of the order thus reproduced. Thus, the educational system objectively tends, by concealing the objective truth of its functioning, to produce the ideological justification of the order it reproduces by its functioning.'

Though the author does commit the error of ending with an interesting sentence that can be understood.

Thu Oct 11, 11:42:00 am  

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