Things I don’t want to know by Deborah Levy: a response to George Orwell


‘Things I Don’t Want to Know’ is a unique response to George Orwell from one of our most vital contemporary writers. Taking Orwell’s famous list of motives for writing as the jumping-off point for a sequence of thrilling reflections on the writing life, this is a perfect companion not just to Orwell’s essay, but also to Levy’s own, essential oeuvre.

Taken from the publisher’s website:


Why should you read this book?

Why I write is an essay by the renowned writer and essayist George Orwell, in which he explains his four motives for writing. His first motive is sheer egoism, his second is what he calls aesthetic enthusiasm, his third is historical impulse, and the last one is political impulse. In Things I Don’t Want to Know, Deborah Levy responds to all these motives with episodes from her own life.

From the first pages of this memoir/autobiographical essay, I was hooked. Deborah Levy flew from London to Majorca because she couldn’t stop crying in the city’s escalators. I know I felt this urge so many times. She has a question: What should I do with all the things I don’t want to know? Later, she finds her answer: write, write, write. That’s the solution. Perhaps, one day it will also be mine.

I have Hot Milk on my shelves waiting to be read. Somehow, I ended up starting by this one which means I’ll read The Cost of Living afterwards, which is the second book of this trilogy. I am glad I did. This incredibly short book touched me very deeply and I’ll be able to understand and embrace her fiction work differently. Levy’s writing is genuine and venerable. Most important of all, it’s unalloyed. What she says and where it comes from results in such a pure and authentic message.

I’d like to thank Penguin Random House UK for the free copy. You can buy the book here.

“Sometimes in life, it’s not about knowing where to start, it’s knowing where to stop”.

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK
Published on: April 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 166
Price: £7,99

4 stars

2 thoughts on “Things I don’t want to know by Deborah Levy: a response to George Orwell

  1. Pingback: July Wrap-Up – Books Turn You On
  2. Pingback: The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy – Books Turn You On

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