In The New York Times Book Review [2-28-10] on p. 4, I read in a letter from Quade Winter that a professor once said the following: “If you want to achieve true mastery of English prose, read Gibbon and Orwell, then shoot yourself.”
Aside from its defeatism, that claim seems to me curious. I have never found Orwell a master of English prose. I have learned from Orwell despite Orwell’s prose style. Orwell’s imagination and sentiments greatly outstrip the slog that is his writing, in my view.