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Why we write
Ali Smith
13 June 2022
published in Issue One

Dear George Orwell,

Why do we write? Given that words and reality, as you once put it, are so often « no liker » to each other « than chessmen to living beings ».

I’m writing to you now from a future no-one could have seen coming –– except maybe yourself, and H G Wells, and J G Ballard and the furthest-seeing writers over the centuries from Sophocles to Margaret Atwood.

Because everything you wrote gifts us with the knowledge that words are the chesspieces by which the powers that be will play their games with our lives. You know, as the current UK Prime Minister puts it, that « human beings are creatures of the imagination », that « people live by narrative ».

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