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February 12, 2008

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Book 8 of my 52 Books in 2008

This is cheating a little, as it's a very short book, and also a reread. I wanted to refresh my memory of it before passing it along to someone else, so that we can discuss it meaningfully together. It's at least 20 years since I read it, and I'd forgotten many of the small points, so I'm glad I read it again.

What can I say about it that has not been said thousands of times before. Not much. Everyone knows that this is, as it's subtitled in fact, a "Fairy Story" about farm animals taking over their farm from a farmer. Everyone also knows that this isn't what it's about at all, it is a story about politics and how workers are controlled by their leaders.

I'm not that hot on different political systems. Communism is the main target here; I know this from my meagre back knowledge of Orwell and the history of the Russian Revolution. The animals overthrow their oppressive owner, but gradually, their new society reverts to a similar, or even worse, condition. The pigs, as cleverest, set themselves up as leaders, and like it a bit too much. They use misinformation, distraction, and eventually terror to force the other animals to obey them. It happens quite gradually, and it's really very clever and it is satisfying to watch the plot work out, even when you know how it's going to end.

Any government is in danger of exhibiting the dangers seen here. This novel is as relevant today as it was during World War II when it was published. As a story for children it is very violent and callous in places - but then, so are many traditional fairy stories. I highly recommend this then to all ages, and in fact, will now look out for one of the animated versions on DVD to play at home.

Posted by se71 at February 12, 2008 10:30 AM


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