Newest Review: ... over how thought provoking and haunting the message as the book went on. at first it seams like it could be any other book about a farm ... more
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Member Name: pmcds
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Advantages: Style, comparison, similes and metaphors, brave at the time
Disadvantages: Nothing really
I'm trying to work out how I've managed to avoid reading Animal Farm until now. Many I know have even studied it at school, my wife included. What was going through George Orwell's mind when he was writing the manuscript for this, we may never have known were he not as outspoken about his political leanings as he is reported to have been.
Animal Farm is a story of revolution that Orwell has stated as being a mirror of the Russian Revolution, and the events leading up to and including Stalin's leadership of Russia in the first half of the 20th Century. I was lucky enough to have not realised this until afterwards, and actually spent a lot of the book thinking it was rather similar to Stalin's regime.
The book opens with a rousing speech from an ageing pig on Manor Farm, who incites revolution among the other animals, quoting how poorly they are treated compared to humans and how they should have the right to everything they own and experience, not just to be used as labour animals or slaughtered for food. The ensuing Revolution is led by two pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, and it is the way that the equality among all animals starts off being fine but then descends into inequality as time marches on that is so clever about the book. Orwell manages to get things to almost come full circle at points, and while it's important to not give too much away, there are some ironic moments throughout the book, given that the revolution is all about not being like humans and being fair and equal to everyone.
Rumours abound about the comparisons between the characters in the book and real life. The majority of the animals reflect Russian society, while some of the key characters do have real counterparts. Napoleon is said to be the Stalin figure, while his orator Squealer bears more than a striking literary resemblance to Molotov; with Snowball being Trotsky. Russian history was always something I was interested in, and once you realise what is being 'translated' into a simile of prose, you soon grasp the way it's going to turn out. If you're not a follower of the subject, then you'll still get a very good story, so don't fear there.
It's written very simply. There are no twists or turns, merely statements of story plot development and the occasional conversation. Things flow smoothly, and the battles that are described are usually short and swift, getting across the main points like a good essay would, in fact. It's certainly an interesting way of retelling a story and putting your own viewpoint in there, and this is exactly what Orwell manages to do.
As you can imagine, there were various issues with publishing the book. Political tension towards the end of the Second World War, when Orwell penned this, was raging higher than ever, as countries around the world postured for life following the inevitable conclusion to the war, with the situation between Russia and USA the most tense. This was to follow, of course, for many years during the Cold War, and many literary publishing restrictions imposed on Animal Farm were only lifted in 1989 when the Cold War ended and USA and Russia became 'friends'.
Perhaps if this had been written today, it wouldn't have had the same impact, but because of WHEN it was written, the fact that it was so current, is probably what gave such a good insight into events for those who may have wanted to have some form of metaphor to explain things better. Initially banned in many countries (as was Orwell's 1984), the hype surrounding the book is just as big as the content itself, seeding this book firmly in the recent World Books Day top 100 of all time. Well worth a read.
Summary: Politically controversial way of retelling the Russian Revolution through animals