By: George Orwell
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges…
Moving along in my re-read, up next is Animal Farm. Like 1984 (review), I first read this book years ago when I was in undergrad and goodness, could this be any more a blatant allegory to the Russian Revolution (right down to the rise of Stalin)?
Anyhow it was good to re-visit this book. It’s been a few years since I’ve studied Russian history so it was nice to slip back into that through this story. It’s certainly an easy tool to use to teach roughly about the events of the Russian Revolution, the ideas surrounding the reasons behind the overthrow of the Imperial system and the subsequent divisions and in-fighting that emerged amongst the Revolutionists paving the way to the rise of tyranny through the character of Napoleon (heh, even the names seem reflective of the actual figures involved). It does prescribe to the hardline approach to the Revolution in terms of Stalin being consciously aware of how he wanted to rise up (there are different interpretations, of which I won’t go into detail here) but nonetheless it makes for an effective story here. I thought this time around it was especially interesting how the different farm animals reacted to the Revolution and how they fared differently under the new regime. The changing rules over the years was eerie and reminiscent in some ways to 1984 and Party ideology, that twist in language to accommodate the change in regime.
There’s nothing else I can really add here as it’s such a slim and straightforward novella; I read it in one sitting during my break at work so I can’t say that I have any other thoughts on the book, really. If you’ve studied Russian history there’s that added bonus reading this book and understanding a lot of the ideas that are reflected in the tale, but if you didn’t it’s okay too because it’s quite a readable novella.