Book Cover Blurb: Animal Farm is a satirical allegory on the Russian Revolution. It tells the simple and tragic story of what happens when the oppressed farm rebel to attain freedom from Mr. Jones. It is about their attempt to rule the farm themselves on the basis of equality.
The animals had initially aimed to form a utopian society, where each would work according to his capacity, respecting the needs of the others. But, they failed to do so. And, Animal Farm ended up being a dictatorship of the pigs that were the brightest, but did no physical work in reality.
Genre: Classic / Politics
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Another book where I had a vague sense of knowing what would happen, having read about it or watched something familiar when I was a wee boy. Then again, it might have been Charlotte’s Web or Babe.
Having finally completed Animal Farm (for the first time as it happens), I was transfixed by the simple story and how it developed. Although it was written some seventy years ago (!), and was a critique of the Russian inversion of the Socialist/Communist regime at the time, there is a lot in here that still resonates today about Western society.
The animal characters leap off the page and are easily identifiable. The Dictator Napoleon and his right hand man(pig) Snowball acting as his loyal and persuasive ‘Spin’ Doctor (Weapons of Mass Destruction anyone?). Their ring of security, fierce dogs borne into the position devoid of empathy (police brutality anyone?) flank them at every opportunity and keep the other animals firmly in check.
Boxer, the strapping horse, representative of the working class hero – an optimist even under impossible working conditions with long hours and little reward. The sheep (mass media), programmed by their (corporate) owners to convince an unsuspecting public into believing the lie repeating it ad nauseam in catchy sound bites until it is perceived as truth (War on Terror anyone?).
There is so much more in this book than meets the eye, and it reads beautifully. The themes of corruption, greed and propaganda are all woven within the text but on the surface it is a dark and humorous read especially as the ruling pigs began to take on human characteristics and distort history to paint themselves in a better light.
I was expecting a very heavy, political commentary that would be hard to get through but dressed in this allegorical form it wasn’t off putting and really absorbed my attention.
Overall, a truly powerful but simple story and warning of the excess and greed of our times. Politicians take note!
Author: George Orwell
Other Books Written: 1984, Down and Out in Paris and London
Time to Complete: 3 Days
Interesting Fact: The farm setting was inspired by a ten year old boy who Orwell saw whipping a carthorse whenever it tried to turn – “It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.” (source)
Rating: 8.5 / 10
Next Book: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Patrick Süskind
Part of the BBC Big Read 100 List