Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
From Goodreads: Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and form their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” An incredibly spot-on satire of the Russian Revolution under Stalin, Animal Farm has certainly endured through the years since its original publication in 1945.
As someone who knows very little and cares even less about history, I probably didn’t get as much of this novel as I should have. However, it’s safe to say I understood it quite a bit better than I did the first time I read it, back in eighth grade. Since we hadn’t done much world history at that time, Animal Farm and all its references went straight over all our heads. (At least, I know it went straight over mine.) All I really understood about Animal Farm at that point was that a novel about talking animals becomes vaguely unsettling when it’s not a fairy tale. I know at least one of my friends was substantially freaked out by it.
Ten years later, I understood that it was supposed to be a satire of the Russian Revolution, that Napoleon represented Stalin, Snowball was Trotsky, etc. etc.
|This has absolutely nothing to do with Animal Farm, but I can never think of Trotsky without thinking of this.|
It also reminded me quite a bit of 1984 (I wonder why), especially at the points where the pigs would manipulate the “charts and data” to show that the animals were eating more, working less, and were generally happier than they had been before the rebellion. It was really easy to see how poisonous leadership like that can really take hold--both of the leaders and of the followers.
It’s also a really quick read--it’s only a little more than 100 pages, and I think it was originally written for children, so it uses pretty simple, didactic language and not a lot of dialogue.
Now, I can’t really say I like this book as much as I appreciate its literary and satiric value. I can’t really say I’d want to read this multiple times, as I’ve done with 1984, but I’m glad I did reread it at least once, when I was much older, to really understand what was actually going on.
Bottom Line: This is great satire, but I don’t really care enough about history to make an effort to really delve deeper into it, so I’d say I’m probably not the best audience for this book.
Favorite Characters: It was hard to find any of the animals truly likeable--they were either conniving and manipulative or just stone dumb. But I did like Benjamin, the donkey who refused to learn how to read and always stuck to his principles of “everything sucks, everything always has sucked, and everything always will suck.”
I’d recommend this book for: Those who enjoy and know at least a little about the Russian Revolution.
Rating: 3 stars