Sunday, 2 September 2018

Animal Farm by George Orwell


Animal Farm by George Orwell
First published in the UK in 1945.

One of my Classics Club Challenge reads

How I got this book:
Borrowed from my sister

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where to buy this book:

The Book Depository
Wordery
Waterstones
Amazon US / Amazon UK

The most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories, Animal Farm is the account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama. Orwell is one of the very few modern satirists comparable to Jonathan Swift in power, artistry, and moral authority; in animal farm his spare prose and the logic of his dark comedy brilliantly highlight his stark message. Taking as his starting point the betrayed promise of the Russian Revolution, Orwell lays out a vision that, in its bitter wisdom, gives us the clearest understanding we possess of the possible consequences of our social and political acts.

The Brexit vote and Trump's election a couple of years ago sent Orwell's books, particularly 1984, rocketing back up the bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic. With those two years of hindsight, I think that Animal Farm might be the more accurate analogy for the current British situation at least and, despite writing about a very different historical time, Orwell is scarily prescient! People really don't change!

Animal Farm tells the story of a farmyard's descent into authoritarian horror after its animals decide to Take Back Control of themselves and their land. The intelligent pigs set themselves up as leaders, inventing inspiring slogans to appeal to the daftest of the other animals - a ploy which is so successful that any attempt at rational discussion of the finer points of policy is frequently drowned out by a deafening sheep chorus of Brexit Means Exit 'Four legs good, Two legs bad'. One of the most chilling aspects for me was the inability of anyone to trust what had initially been Commandments written in stone (or on stone at least). As memories fade, words are altered or added warping the initial rules into very different ideas. And manipulative persuasion even convinces animals to doubt the truth of events they witnessed first-hand. With a convenient immigrants Snowball scapegoat to take the blame for everything from lost keys to collapsing windmills, Animal Farm's inhabitants blindly walk themselves right back around to where they started with the only consolation, I suppose, being at least that the cruel treatment they endure is now being meted out by leaders of their own kind. Or leaders who once claimed to be of their own kind anyway.

Brilliant.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by George Orwell / Novellas / Books from England

12 comments:

  1. I came very close to a pro-Brexit rant but decided to reign myself in! All I'll say is I voted Leave to take control of our fishing grounds and our laws, not as an anti-migrant thing. As for the book, it was required reading at school and we studied every aspect of it and I really didn't enjoy it!

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    1. It's not the which way of voting that winds me up. I did vote Remain because I want to retain rights to free travel, but can see pros and cons both ways. I am getting increasingly frustrated with the jingoistic rhetoric though and - with only a few months left - our irresponsible leaders are still at the inane bullshit phase! Where is the plan?!

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  2. I agree with you that Animal Farm is actually a better metaphor for much of the current issues. I think people turn to 1984 because it's more easily accessible and for lack of a better word "sexier".

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    1. This was the first time I had read it which I know is far later than most people

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  4. I love this classic read and I studied it in class! I remember seeing all the satirical links and being in awe of such genius writing. The last scene and line of this book was so chilling. I am glad you could enjoy reading this novella as well!

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    1. I would have hated having to study Animal Farm at school, but would appreciate the additional knowledge now. I think education is often wasted on children!!

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  5. this is one classic I've never been sure I'd read. for some reason it does make me super excited so I never get to it! But it is always there in the back of my mind because YES! So relevant!

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    1. I think you would enjoy this one a lot. It's a quick read in itself although, obviously, the themes and issues raised could take a lifetime to ponder!

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  6. I'm so glad you loved this, Stephanie! I read it a while back (and of course neglected a review) and I absolutely loved the nuanced metaphorical situation that Orwell built. Sometimes you need to look at a real world situation from the outside to really understand how awful a situation is.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

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    1. It's brilliant, isn't it. Orwell has to be one of my favourite writers

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