Published by Plume on May 6, 2003
Genres: Classics, Science Fiction, Academic, Satire
Pages: 102 Format: Paperback Source: Library
The animals on Mr. Jones’s farm stage a successful revolution, and take the place over. Their hopes, their plans, and their achievements form the subject of Animal Farm. In the first flush of enthusiasm there is set up a great commandment, All animals are equal, but unfortunately leadership devolves almost automatically on the pigs, who are on a higher intellectual level than the rest. The revolution begins to go wrong-yet at every step excellent excuses are always forthcoming for each perversion of the original doctrine.
This story of animals overthrowing their masters only to be under the foot of another power afterwards is the essence of Animal Farm by George Orwell. First published in 1946, it addresses Stalin’s communist philosophy in the Soviet Union at the time through the words of a British author and an animal fairy tale. It is thinly concealed propaganda, an allegory of epic proportions.
I’m not the biggest fan of Orwell’s writing to begin with. I read 1984 earlier this year after many attempts to get into the book and I finally finished it. While I did end up liking 1984, I cannot say the same for Animal Farm. It wasn’t compelling, I struggled to get through the hundred pages, and there just seems to be a disconnect. I understood what he was trying to do but it fell short for me.
I do realize this book is satirical but if I’m honest I felt more offended than anything else. He relegates them to less than human, a thought that probably reflects that time period but nevertheless awful. I felt like he was doing a disservice to the Soviet people. Yes, they ended up with another leader that did not help them but most governments and countries fall into a repetitive cycle. History in and of itself is making the same mistakes again and again and we still don’t learn from them.
Overall Animal Farm by George Orwell was just a classic I did not like and could have done without. It is a commentary on the 1940s and the Soviet Union which may be its only merit. It gives a perspective even as a satire but it just wasn’t for me. Orwell’s writing here was dull compared to 1984 and I had been hoping for more. I didn’t even pick out any quotes.
Have you read Animal Farm? Was it required reading or your choice? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!