On shadows

by little red pen

Enough of me; today you get Orwell.

24.2.39 Pretty heavy rain last night & this morning.

Found sprays of fennel, which evidently grows here. Saw very large slow-moving black & white birds, evidently of hawk tribe. Forgot to mention curious property of human shadows, noticed at Taddert. Sometimes one stands on a crag whose shadow is cast hundreds of feet below. If one stands right on the edge of it, naturally one’s shadow is cast beyond that of the crag. But I notice that whereas the shadow of the rock is black & solid, that of the human body, at anything over about 50 feet, is faint and indistinct, like the shadow of a bush. At short distances this is not noticeable & the shadow seems solid, but at long distances, say 200 feet & over, one seems to have almost no shadow at all. At certain distances the body as a whole has a sort of shadow, but eg., the arm by itself none. I do not know whether this is because, relative to rock, the human body is not opaque, or whether it is merely a question of size.

George Orwell, “Morocco Diary: 7 September 1938 – 28 March 1939”, The Orwell Diaries, ed. Peter Davison (London: Penguin, 2010), p. 127.