Things I Don’t Want to Know

Deborah Levy

Published by Notting Hill Editions in Hardback (£12) on 13-06-2013

A response to George Orwell’s Why I Write. Orwell identified four key motivations for his work, Political Purpose, Historical Impulse, Sheer Egoism and Aesthetic Enthusiasm, Levy explores each of these blending memoir, gender and identity politics, philosophy and literary theory addressing the many motivations and inspirations behind her writing.

“To become a writer, I had to learn to interrupt, to speak up, to speak a little louder, and then louder, and then to just speak in my own voice which is not loud at all.”

“Perhaps when Orwell described sheer egoism as a necessary quality for a writer, he was not thinking about the sheer egoism of a female writer. Even the most arrogant female writer has to work over time to build an ego that is robust enough to get her through January, never mind all the way to December.”

Deborah Levy

  • An original and unmissable essay

    Kate Kellaway, Observer

  • A powerful feminist response to Orwell’s Why I Write

    Juliet Jacques, New Statesman

  • A vivid, striking account of a writer’s life, which feminises and personalises Orwell’s blunt assertions”.


  • This beguiling meditation, which confronts the legacies of both George Orwell and Virginia Woolf, appears in an elegant volume

    Max Lui, Independent Books of the Year

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