ISBN 978-0-141-03613-7. George Orwell’s “Animal Farm – A Fairy Story” was published by Penguin in 2008. It was fist published in the post-war Britain of 1945. This edition with introductory notes on the text by Peter Davison came out in 1989. “Animal Farm” is now considered a literary classic and has been used to teach English Literature to teenagers. Noam Chomsky considers it dissident literature that is only acceptable in our society because it is considered a work concerning the misdemeanours of an official enemy – communism. Orwell himself challenged the idea that “Animal Farm” only concerned Stalinism. He said that although it was “primarily a satire on the Russian Revolution” it was intended to have a wider application.
That kind of revolution, which he defined as “violent conspiratorial revolution, led by unconsciously power-hungry people”, could only lead to a change of master. He went on to say that “I mean the moral to be that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert and know how to chuck out their leaders as soon as the latter have done their job. The turning point of was supposed to be when the pigs kept the milk and apples for themselves”. He referred to the naval mutiny at Kronstadt in 1921 when the sailors supported those striking in Leningrad against the Soviet regime. We may reason that Orwell was disappointed that critics failed to draw the right message from Animal Farm. By 1948 his work had morphed into “1984” in a story where the animals were replaced by humans and the lessons more explicit. So, what is Animal Farm all about? It is a simple tale of animals who revolt against their human masters and take over the farm where they live and work. From that point-on a caste of Pigs take over as the new masters. Initially they preach equality and the rejection of human values. However, as the tale unravels the Pigs become corrupted. To hide their corruption from the more ignorant beasts they keep changing the rules by which their society lives so as to only benefit themselves. They only get away with this deceit by the use of propaganda to remind the animals of just how bad it was under the human yoke. They lift up one pig to be the great leader until one system of oppression replaces another. The book ends with the pigs becoming so human that the animals can’t tell the difference any more. It is a tragic farce not without its more touching moments. We the reader know exactly what is going on but it still doesn’t fail to move. You will still empathise with these poor animals. A fairy story it may be but there is more here to stir the soul than anything in Lord of the Rings. Recommended.