HARDCOVER; 128 P. HARVILL SECKER, 2010/1945 SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY
Animal Farm is one of the most famous warnings ever written. Orwell’s immortal satire – ‘against Stalin’ as he wrote to his French translator – can be read on many levels. With its piercing clarity and deceptively simple style it is no surprise that this novel is required reading for schoolchildren and politicians alike. This fable of the steadfast horses Boxer and Clover, the opportunistic pigs Snowball and Napoleon, and the deafening choir of sheep remains as unparalleled masterpiece. One reviewer wrote: ‘In a hundred years’ time perhaps Animal Farm … may simply be a fairy story: today it is a fairy story with a good deal of point.’ Over sixty years on in the age of spin, it is more relevant than ever.
Probably one of the most referenced books in my circle of friends, I’ve heard a lot about this book. But for some reason I have never read it. Until now. And dear me, it was good. SO GOOD. However, lets start with the synopsis:
Animal Farm begins on a farm somewhere in England where the farmer, Mr. Jones, is a drunken, miserable old man who neglects his animals. The workers slacken and the animals starve. One night the old boar gathers the animals to hear a prophesy – a dream he has seen of a time when animals overcome the tyranny of humans. Depressed by their current conditions, the animals take well into this idea and an ideology of Animalism is established. The pigs – the intelligentsia – study the thought and teach its ideals to the other animals. Soon the Revolution of Animals takes place and the man is abolished from his farm. Manor Farm transforms into Animal Farm where all animals toil for the sake of common good, following the Seven Commandments set in the beginning of the Revolution. At first things look good for the animal community, but eventually things begin to change.
The book features a plethora of characters from intelligent pigs to working horses to masses of sheep. What I found ingenious was that the story is written as a fable, but what you essentially read is the story of the Soviet Revolution. Although the historical characters are never mentioned in the text itself, I could not read the book without picturing Stalin and Trotsky in the leading roles. The imagery was powerful – especially the sheep that drowned everything with their ‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ chant – and it must have made an impact at the time of its publication. Orwell’s satire hits the Soviet government as well as the British one. What Orwell presents in his book is a story that mimics the Soviet revolution but also the Western nations in their role as the humans. In essence, it stabs the cult of Stalin but does not glorify the actions of the Western nation states.My edition of the Animal Farm also included Orwell’s essay The Freedom of the Press which he originally wrote as a preface to the book. Orwell wrote this essay as a response to the publishing houses that turned down his book in fear that it would injure the relations between England and USSR.
I approached this book with high expectations, and luckily they were all fulfilled. It is a gripping story of power, suppression, politics and the relationship between leaders and the citizens. The book truly deserves its place on the classics shelf; it is also relatively easy to get through which makes it recommendable to almost everyone.
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL
BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS