How Important Is Grammar Really?

Tea Stained Literature

First of all, I must admit that I am an absolute grammar fanatic.  When editing someone’s writing, I have a tendency to scrutinize the grammar, usage, and overall style so intensely that many see it as annoying.  Even a misplaced comma bothers me.  However, I often wonder if my reaction to grammar is an acceptable one.  Must grammar be perfect for a piece of writing to be considered good? Is grammar even necessary in good writing?  George Orwell, one of my favorite writers, once wrote this regarding good writing:

To begin with, it has nothing to do with archaism, with the salvaging of obsolete words and turns of speech, or with the setting-up of a “standard English” which must never be departed from. On the contrary, it is especially concerned with the scrapping of every word or idiom which has outworn its usefulness. It has nothing to do with correct grammar and syntax…

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