When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality. But gradually a cunning, ruthless élite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another.
Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Animal Farm was the first title I put on my Classics Club list. Why? Because it’s one of the most famous novels written, possibly ever, and I’ve never read it. It’s only after I started this blog that I’ve realised just how little I deserve to be called a bookworm.
To make matters worse I’d hadn’t even seen a film adaptation of Orwell’s novel before; granted I knew the general premise of the book but didn’t really know what would happen. I was going in (almost) blind.
And I’m so happy I did. It’s as if Animal Farm was written for a child, and yet, not at all. Any adult with a vague awareness of history and politics would recognise the parallels to the Russian revolution. Orwell’s animal characters all had human counterparts; Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, Stalin, even the KGB and the hardworking proletarians. We travel through the idealistic beginnings of Communism through to it’s, some would say, inevitable demise.
‘All animals are equal but some are more equal than others’
As with 1984, Animal Farm is simple, hard-hitting, and powerful; the understated way in which it was written is what makes it so effective. This is why I love reading Orwell’s works so much; there’s no need for flowery language; no reason to overcompensate meaning or effectiveness with a multitude words.
Everyone should read this novel at least 3 times: once to enjoy the story as a tale about animals taking over a farm; once to realise the political parallels; and once to appreciate a true example of literary genius.