August 11

This morning all surfaces, even indoors, damp as a result of mist. A curious deposit all over my snuff-box, evidently residue of moisture acting on lacquer.

Very hot, but rain in afternoon.

Am told the men caught another snake this morning – definitely a grass snake this time. The man who saw them said they had tied a string round its neck & were trying to cut out its tongue with a knife, the idea being that after this it could not “sting.”¹

The first Beauty of Bath apples today.




¹See note 2, August 9 1938

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33 Responses to August 11

  1. d says:

    Again with the weather.

  2. Skymt says:

    If this weren’t 70 years ago, I would charge them with animal cruelty!


  3. Anissa TALBI says:

    looks more like the lewis and clark journals… so far :-D

  4. Congratulations on this excellent idea. I am not sure that Orwell would have bothered with links, though ;-)

  5. Jordi Fibla says:

    “A novelist who simply disregards the major public events of the moment is generally either a footler or a plain idiot”. This comes from “Inside the Whale”, an essay by Orwell on Henry Miller, published in 1945. I guess we all would like that the Orwell’s diary developed along such lines, but, for one, perhaps this really is a true personal diary not intended for publication, and, secondly, we are as yet in the initial stages. I guess we should be patient and brave the weather… and the snakes.

  6. WordPress is malleable enough to put the original written date right above or below the repost date. It would be nice to have a quick reference on all the entries in a consistent place.

  7. Laurens says:

    Great that a 70 years long distance look like nothing because of the postmodern reactions made here. Linking “mist” with Radiohead or the Olympic Games, for example. I admire the links to Googlemaps too.

  8. amzolt says:

    A Non-postmodern reaction:

    “A curious deposit all over my snuff-box, evidently residue of moisture acting on lacquer.”

    Clearly shows his critical intelligence.

    Note: We could all have lost faith in the man if he’d written, “Crappy stuff all over snuff box.”

    Snuff? Hmmm…

    ~ Alex

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  10. Andy Roberts says:

    Beauty of Bath are not particularly special eating apples, but obvioulsy worth looking forward to for their early cropping, what with being early august still.

  11. Kalyani says:

    I would have called police on the people hurting that snake. Indeed a case of animal cruelity. :(

  12. Re: the notion that snakes could sting with their tongues: Orwell was apparently fond of collecting myths about animals. An example would be the commonly-held belief that a swan could break a man’s arm with one blow from its wing.

    I suppose “the men” to whom Orwell refers were employees of Preston Hall, the Kent sanatorium at which G.O. was then convalescing. Michael Sheldon, in his biography of Orwell, writes that Preston Hall was located on the former estate of a nineteenth-century railroad magnate. The sanatorium was established by the British Legion in 1925 for military veterans; the management seems to have admitted Orwell primarily because his brother-in-law was one of the consulting doctors at the institution. (Sheldon, ORWELL: THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY [London: Minerva, 1992], 318.)

  13. Bonnie says:

    @David Nichols – you had Orwell’s *coming Up For Air* in mind (published June 12, 1939). One of his best, btw.

    “According to Mother…. All animals were dangerous, except Nailer, the two cats, and Jackie the bullfinch. Every animal had its special recognised methods of attacking you. Horses bit, bats got into your hair, earwigs got into your ears, swans broke your leg with a blow of their wings, bulls tossed you, and snakes “stung”. All snakes stung, according to Mother, and when I quoted the penny encyclopedia to the effect that they didn’t sting but bit, she only told me not to answer back.”

  14. @Bonnie: Thank you for the reference to Coming Up for Air (a title which I found remarkably difficult to get hold of when I went looking for it ten years ago). I believe Orwell reprinted some of these myths in one of his later essays, but this appears to be the most complete list.

  15. Pingback: Responding to Orwell: August 11 : Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits

  16. “A curious deposit all over my snuff-box, evidently residue of moisture acting on lacquer.”

    His snuff box was probably finished in shellac, an alcohol dissolved finish. Moisture does often cause a whitish blush to form under the surface, which doesn’t easily rub off. Probably a lot of his things were not made well for his new environment.

  17. It seems to me that any snake not deft enough to escape the clutches of a mob of asylum inmates deserves to be toyed with.
    The yellow moon sparkles as it refracts through the glistening (polluted) condensation desecrating the lacquer snuff box—while this atrocity is permitted to occur, so-called “men” chase “stinging” snakes.

  18. collin douma says:

    Would love to see the post date reflect the year. I can do the math, but it would feel more legit. Does anybody there know how to “hack” wordpress so it appears to be the date authored?

  19. Pingback: eNotes Book Blog » Blog Archive » George Bernard Shaw: Irish Imp…

  20. Maenoste says:

    He must live near the swampy area. Still, I feel sorry for the snuffed out snakes…

  21. franrocca says:

    I’d like to listen someone reciting this piece. Anyone into drama around here?

  22. citizenwells says:

    There are many snakes out there. I am certain Mr. Orwell
    would prefer the slithering variety to the forked tongue,
    Orwellian, doublespeak varieties we are infested with.
    Citizen Wells

  23. For some reason, my internet radio station of choice is currently playing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen by Jethro Tull.

  24. Geakz says:

    I anyone taking note of the beauty of a short, but highly descriptive journal entry?
    On an unrelated note , the U.S. woman’s Olympic beach volleyball team is wearing white bikinis today.

  25. Collin, it’s really not that hard. There are a lot of tutorials about messing with wordpress out there.

    The easiest way to do this, of course, would be to simply set the post date as the older date. The most recent post will still be at the top and show up that day in readers.

  26. @Ian Aleksander Adams, collin douma et al – the posts are now showing up as 1938.

    Also, to the many of you who were hoping for translations into other languages… we’re signed up at Der Mundo, an online collaborative translation project, which you can find at

  27. Tim Footman says:

    I think I’m going to start a quasi-Dadaist punk band called A Curious Deposit All Over My Snuff-box

  28. Pingback: The Flyer » Blog Archive » The Story So Far…

  29. Laurens says: doesn’t work that well for Dutch. One gets very strange sentences, which can be pleasant to read for different reasons.

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  31. 1rThank’s.3k I compleatly disagree with last post . xuq
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  32. 7jGood idea.5i I compleatly disagree with last post . zez
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