Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell





Animal Farm by George Orwell offers an adult fable that resonates with history.

"A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned—a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.

When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh."

This classic reminds me of the events of the French Revolution. The Jacobites turned on each other. It reminds me of the messaging of totalitarians, crooks, and cult leaders use to recast history in a convenient light. Things start out sounding ideal and pleasant. In a matter of time society breaks down. Rome falls, the Empire declines, the superpower loses power and is no longer super. 

It doesn't seem that Orwell has much regard for religion. The hopes beyond life seem mythical and fabricated to control and subordinate the weaker class. Faith is not a big idea of this book. This is more a comment on Stalinist Russia. After reading Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the rationale expressed in this book makes even more sense. 

The book is brief, compelling, easy to read, and thought-provoking. 

QUOTES 

  • Man is the only real enemy we have. Remove Man from the scene, and the root cause of hunger and overwork is abolished for ever.
  • Man serves the interests of no creature except himself.
  • All the habits of Man are evil. And, above all, no animal must ever tyrannise over his own kind. Weak or strong, clever or simple, we are all brothers. No animal must ever kill any other animal. All animals are equal.
  • He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges. The animals hated Moses because he told tales and did no work, but some of them believed in Sugarcandy Mountain, and the pigs had to argue very hard to persuade them that there was no such place.
  • The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should assume the leadership.
  • But everyone worked according to his capacity. The hens and ducks, for instance, saved five bushels of corn at the harvest by gathering up the stray grains. Nobody stole, nobody grumbled over his rations, the quarrelling and biting and jealousy which had been normal features of life in the old days had almost disappeared. Nobody shirked — or almost nobody.
  • We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for YOUR sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.
  • This work was strictly voluntary, but any animal who absented himself from it would have his rations reduced by half.
  • No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.



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