Animal Farm by George Orwell

rating
(No Series)
  Classic, Drama


No writer has ever been more naked in his contempt for power, or more ruthless in his critique of those who abuse it, than the Englishman born Eric Blair, better known to the world as George Orwell. In Animal Farm he restages the hypocrisies of the Russian Revolution with the principal figures played by, of all things, farm animals. By presenting atrocities in the terms of a fairy tale, he makes them fresh, restoring to readers numbed by the 20th century’s parade of disasters a sense of shock and outrage. Paradoxically, by turning Trotsky and Lenin and their followers into pigs and horses and chickens, he reveals them as all too human.


"The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which."


What an unusual, disturbing little story. Its simplicity holds much power and depth.

This...isn't an easy review to write. Hard to talk much about a book that's so open to interpretation. As you can see, the synopsis covers that it's a paradox of political angles. I do agree with this, and I also take from it random control through religion, personal and societal dominance, and greed.

It's likely a story where you'll discover something new with each read. A short thing,  merely 112 pages, it packs a powerful punch. The pacing is swift and interesting, igniting chaos and controversy amongst the animals from get-go, finishing with a grim slamming of the book door. The setting never leaves the farm, it never needs to. They have their own world to survive in and that world is where the power and message of the story lives.

Would you believe I had no idea at all of the plot when opening the first page? Being deprived of most classics growing up, none of my friends or family read these either. It was a personal goal to discover these on my own, and I hadn't seen the movie nor the trailer. I knew it was probably about animals of course, and when I started reading it thought with the talking animals it was akin maybe to a type of childrens tale.

Anyway, I prefer going into the classics without foreknowledge or prejudice. Makes it fresher to me, unbiased by listening to others or previous experiences. It's a good thing I haven't seen many movies about the classics either, as I'm sure these would either taint or change my perception of them.

The short novel, bottom line, is about how corrupting power can be. Absolutely control and corruption when too much is given, the imbalances are raised, and too much blind loyalty to leadership. The animals initial goal was to run the farm themselves, without outside interference or help, seeing each other as equals of a sort, every animal doing an equal share of work and production toward a unified goal, similar to a utopian communism.

At brief glance it may appear the writing is ridiculously simple, and it is. Kept this way by Orwell, the structure and events unfolding are carefully arranged, using skillful writing and almost childlike simplicity to fully and easily illustrate the chaotic, complex unraveling of this 'society.' Sometimes when using a moral message this deep, profound, common, and structured, it can work better laying it out in allegories.

Religion is clear as day also with its play in control, especially with the Raven Moses, who keeps speaking of "Sugarcandy Mountain" in the sky, where one day everyone would be able to rest from their weary labors. Some have pointed out that while Old Major was preaching about changes needed within the structure, Moses was sleeping in the barn. It can be seen as a play on how the church has been accused of "sleeping" or turning a blind eye to communism.

I recommend this short novel to everyone. The message is amazingly potent, the characters fascinating, it's power isn't in preachy writing but effective literary prowess, and it's a classic that will stand the test of time.

I still haven't seen the movie but I did search out the trailer after finishing the book. Will let you know what I think when I get around to seeing it.

There's also always this haunting last line the book concludes with. I don't care much for Minecraft but my fiance and son have me play it sometimes. I built a little literary world and one of the farms was animal farm. I put this last line on a few signs in the yard:


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   Book Quotes:

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 

 “Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.”

   Interesting Facts:

  • Several of Orwell's coinages from his popular and intensely impactual works have birthed unique phrases people use today, one word being "Orwellian", indicated any oppressive social occurrence leading to the repression of a free society.
  • His other most popular piece was 1984. Combined with Animal Farm, these two have sold more copies together than any other twentieth-century author.


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