Animal Farm is book layered with literature, history and creative outreach. To fully understand it, we need to dig a little deeper than just read one man’s review. We need to travel across time as well. I have drawn from the bunch of information that my copy of Enhanced Edition comes packed with, that fully brings the book’s nuances out to the foreground, without compromising on its literary flavour.
*One of the Oldest Reviews of Animal Farm (Excerpts)*
“Mr. George Orwell’s Animal Farm described as a fairy story is a delightfully humorous and caustic satire on the rule of the many by the few. On the Manor Farm the animals, led by two wise pigs, revolt against the dictatorship of Mr. Jones, turn him out, and proceed to run the place themselves for the sole benefit of the animal community.”
“At first the effort is successful, but once the pigs have tasted the sweets of leadership they begin to degenerate into the evil habits of mankind, take to drink, walk on their hind legs, and arrogate to themselves all the luxuries and benefits of the farm, leaving the other animals in even worse conditions than they had known under Mr Jones.”
“…a very amusing and intrinsically wise book.”- The Guardian on Friday, 24 August 1945
*Blunders of Soviet Rule Satirized in ‘Animal Farm’*
“One of the year’s most talked of books is sure to be “Animal Farm,” not only because among the Book of the Month club members it will have an enormous audience awaiting it, but because it is a satire so simple and so amusing and so delightful that even a child can chuckle over it.”
“It is the story of the revolt of the animals on an English farm against Farmer Jones and human beings in general. Their battle cry is “Four legs good, two legs bad.” A clever agitator, a pig stirred his fellow animals with such words as “Only get rid of man and the produce of labor would be our own.””
“The story which Mr. Orwell tells of the operation of ‘Animalism,’ the animals’ plans, their political battles, triumphs, and defeats in the war against humankind is an almost literal transliteration into terms of animal life of the struggles of the soviet. The battle of power between the defeated Snowball and the triumphant Napoleon reiterates the political history of the Stalin-Trotsky political warfare.”
“As a satire on the assumption of power it is both sad and gleeful as any picture of humankind.” – The Chicago Tribune on September 1, 1946
Now let me quote one of the early negative reviews of the book. A book that has sold millions of copies till date was referred by Mr. Soule “…dull… a creaking machine… clumsy…” Would he have regretted these judgements?
- Also read: India’s Youngest Poetry Writer Abhijita to Publish her Distinguishing Debut Book with Invincible Publisher
“There are times when a reviewer is happy to report that a book is bad because it fulfils his hope that the author will expose himself in a way that permits a long deserved castigation. This is not one of them, I was expecting that Orwell would again give pleasure and that his satire of the sort of thing which democrats deplore in the Soviet Union would be keen and cleansing. Instead, the book puzzled and saddened me. It seemed on the whole dull. The allegory turned out to be a creaking machine for saying in a clumsy way things that have been said better directly. And many of the things said are not instantly recognized as the essence of truth, but are of the sort which start endless and boring controversy.”
“It seems to me that the failure of this book (commercially it is already assured of tremendous success) arises from the fact that the satire deals not with something the author has experienced, but rather with stereotyped ideas about a country which he probably does not know very well. The plan for the allegory, which must have seemed a good one when he first thought of it, became mechanical in execution. It almost appears as if he had lost his zest before he got very far with the writing. He should try again, and this time on something nearer home.” – The New Republic on September 2, 1946, By George Soule.
Almost 70 years after the book’s release, despite major changes in the world order, we only find the book’s relevance magnified.
*Sinister, sad, yet true. Animal Farm is the most thought-provoking piece of literature I have ever read*.
Written in an elegantly simple style, Orwell uses the turmoil faced on the farm by the animals as a metaphor for the Russian Revolution itself. It shows how a people’s fight for freedom can so quickly morph into a power play as chaos ensues. Orwell cleverly plants lies, illiteracy and even a head hunt throughout the novel to explain the oppression, propaganda and elaborate excuses that led to the rise of the Soviet dictatorship.
Yet, this novel goes beyond addressing the Russian Revolution, it speaks to all revolts there have been and will ever be. It suggests an uprising is futile, that things will remain how they have always been neither getting better nor worse. All simply remains constant. Here I cannot agree with what George Orwell has to say, but right or wrong this book is a brilliant politically minded piece that is an irrevocable page turner, easily read in one sitting.
Truly a timeless classic that speaks so much of human nature. Plus, it’s quaint farmyard setting makes this a very British book, lucky enough to have become a global phenomenon. – The Guardian: 2014
About the Book: One night on an English farm, Major the boar recounts his vision of a utopia where his fellow creatures own the land and are no longer the slaves of humans. Before long his dream comes true, and for a short while all animals really are equal. But the clever pigs educate themselves and soon learn how to extend their own power, inevitably at the expense of the rest of the community. This well-loved tale is, of course, a satire on the Soviet Communist system that still remains a powerful warning despite the changes in world politics since ‘Animal Farm’ was first published.
The latest Enhanced Edition by Pirates contains various add-ons like George Orwell’s proposed Preface to the ‘First Edition’ and special preface to the ‘Ukrainian Edition’. This book also features Orwell’s autobiographic essay: ‘Why I Write’ where he lists the four great motives for writing. It also contains colored flash-cards of Quotable Quotes from the book.
About the Author: Born on 25th June 1903, in Motihari, Bengal Presidency (present-day Bihar, India), in British India, George Orwell’s real name was Eric Arthur Blair. He is an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism. Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed, as are his essays on politics, literature, language, and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. His work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian – descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices – has entered the language together with many of his neologisms.
Animal Farm is a childhood favourite! I would suggest this book to all kinds of readers – beginners, voracious ones and so on. It is a book not more than 150 pages long that will hold your attention throughout. George Orwell is a brilliant author who has the ability to paint pictures in your mind with his words.
The book is the perfect example of political satire. So, those who do not know much about the Soviet Communist System might have issues in following the plot.
It is quite a short read and leaves you wanting to know more about what happens ahead. Orwell portrays a world where animals are free from their master, Mr. Jones. Manor farm is converted to Animal Farm and the rest of the book is for you all to read.
I have come across many versions of this book, but till date, my favourite copy is the one published by Pirates. You can order this version in India by clicking on this link. In addition to being a voracious reader, I am also an impulsive writer. This version contains an autobiographic essay by Orwell himself, “Why I Write”. In this essay Orwell lists these points as his motivation for writing.
- Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-cantered than journalists, though less interested in money.
- Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
- Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
- Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.
Pirates Enhanced Edition of Animal Farm contains flash cards of the quotable quotes.
Orwell knew well that the book is a direct attack on the Marxist theory, and that there is going to be resistance towards this book. He quotes in this proposed preface, “I am well acquainted with all the arguments against freedom of thought and speech — the arguments which claim that it cannot exist, and the arguments which claim that it ought not to. I answer simply that they don’t convince me and that our civilisation over a period of four hundred years has been founded on the opposite notice. For quite a decade past I have believed that the existing Russian regime is a mainly evil thing, and I claim the right to say so, in spite of the fact that we are allies with the USSR in a war which I want to see won.”
There can never be enough of Orwell and the book. And I find another interesting thing in the book, Orwell’s Preface to Ukrainian translation of ‘Animal Farm’. The Ukrainian translation of Animal Farm was intended for Ukrainians living in the camps for Displaced Persons in Germany under British and American administration after World War II. Orwell insisted that he receive no royalties for this edition, nor for other translations intended for those too poor to buy them (e.g., editions in Persian and Telugu). Orwell himself paid the production costs of a Russian-language edition printed on thin paper, which was intended for soldiers and others behind the Iron Curtain.
Not many people know that Orwell had a proposed preface to the book, which didn’t make it to the first edition of the book. This preface was not included and the type-script was only found years later by Ian Angus. It has now been included in the Pirates Enhanced Edition (Paperback: 168 pages; Publisher: Pirates, Enhanced First edition, 24 April 2017; Language: English ;ISBN-13: 978-8193369623).
Grab a copy, step into the Manor farm’s Orwellian World and Happy Revolution to you!