Animal Farm by George Orwell ~Goodreads~
Published by Penguin Modern Classics 1946
Paperback edition 120 pages ~The Book Depository~
‘It is the history of a revolution that went wrong- and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine,’ wrote Orwell for the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945. Orwell wrote the novel at the end of 1943, but it almost remained unpublished.
It’s savage attack on Stalin, at that time Britain’s ally, led to the book being refused by publisher after publisher. Orwell’s simple, tragic fable, telling what happens when the animals drive out Mr Jones and attempt to run the farm themselves, has since become a world famous classic.
There’s so much I could discuss about this book, and if I had to simplify it to one word it would be- mindblowing.
The subject matter of this novella is the corruption of socialist ideals within the Soviet Union, such as the societal tendency towards class stratification, the naivety of the working class and the abuse of language as an instrument to the abuse of power. In simple terms, the government exploiting the working class citizens.
Orwell conveys this through farmyard animals. We have the pigs who symbolise the government, the dogs are the police, and the rest of the animals are perceived as the working class. It works out that the animals overthrow their human oppressors and establish a socialist state called Animal Farm, with the pigs being the most intelligent in the group who take control. The characters Snowball (portrayed as Leon Trotsky) and Napoleon (who represents Joseph Stalin) compete for power.
Throughout the book we see these animals (characters) develop, to begin with the “working class” are happy to overthrow their human oppressors but not until they realise they’re becoming oppressed and manipulated by the pigs (government/Stalin).
The way in which Orwell writes this book is truly remarkable, I enjoy the political relation it has and how the characters portray people. It seems bizarre to start with but completely relevant too, for me this book had everything I could want to enjoy it. The language is easy to understand and Orwell is very blunt and upfront with the issues discussed, particularly communism a topic that society was almost too scared to discuss at the time.
A small confession I would like to add is that, I actually enjoyed 1984 more than Animal Farm but only slightly. I’ve given both books a four star but if I could then 1984 would get a four point five rating. Animal Farm is brilliant, but for me 1984 had just that bit more fascination for me and I’m very excited to read my next Orwell novel- Keep The Aspidistra Flying, which I’ve heard is equally as brilliant!
So if you want a communist, political, ironic, and just mindblowing read then you can’t go wrong with Orwell!