George Orwell, author of “1984” and “Animal Farm,” has been celebrated far and wide for his essay “Politics and the English Language.” The moral force of his argument is undeniable: Orwell, a socialist, witnessed the, well, Orwellian, tyranny of the Soviet Union and feared the power of propaganda and the insidiousness of authoritarian obfuscation, hence his passion for clear, simple writing.
Toward the end of this justifiably influential tract, Orwell exhorted readers to adhere to six commandments about writing. However, as he himself wrote in a subsequent paragraph, “I have not here been considering the literary use of language, but merely language as an instrument for expressing and not for concealing or preventing thought.”
Beyond that caution, though, literal adherence to his dicta is inadvisable, and to some extent I disagree with each of them.
1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.