GEORGE ORWELL – ANIMAL FARM. (1945) Penguin Books.
The classic tale of what happens when a noble revolution goes horribly wrong. The good intensions of a socialist community begin to unravel. It is a prophetic vision of what would happen to Russia and other Communist countries in the 1980’s. The story is all the more remarkable for being written in a style accessible to children. In an oppressively badly run farm, the animals tire of their hunger, repeated beatings and general ill treatment, and they bond together to drive out their human owners. They are encouraged by the wisdom of an elderly, much respected pig, Old Major (Karl Marx in all but name). The revolution proves to be devastatingly effective, but only as far as the farm itself is concerned. Efforts by the birds to spread the message of revolt to other farms fall on deaf ears. Cats who are well loved, and cows that are happy to be milked scoff at the idea of turning on the people who feed them. The Animal Farm that once belonged to Mr. Jones is now isolated from the rest of the country, much as Russia was cut off by its own Iron Curtain. It is now that the pigs begin to draw up the code of equality (The Communist Manifesto) which all should live by. ‘All animals are equal;’ being its most abiding principle. However, there is dissent, and the pig called Snowball (Trotsky) is hounded into exile as Napoleon (Stalin) the pig takes command. He faces problems right away. The animals work to build a labour saving windmill for them, which takes its toll on them all. Farmer Jones, in a reflection of Hitler’s attack on Russia, destroys the windmill. Though the other animals write off the project, the strong farm horse, Snowball, the main representative of industrial proletariat, labours alone to rebuild it. As he finishes, he stumbles and gets badly injured. The pigs, under Napoleon, promise that Snowball will be granted a happy retirement, but the dogs discover in one of literatures great shock moments, that the horse has been sent off to the glue factory. (Stalinist atrocity). The revolution has now gone out of control. Napoleon has rewritten the manifesto code. Now it is declared that while all animals are equal, ‘Some are more equal than others!’ The pigs begin to dress like people, drink, and play cards. Soon, the other animals are unable to tell pigs from men. The leaders of the revolution have become the new oppressors. This is not a comfortable homily allegory, but a disquieting study of social disaster, made all the more effective for its use of farm animals in such an anthropomorphic way.
See also George Orwell - 1984
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