Sunday, April 14, 2013

Animal Farm

Author: George Orwell
First Published: 1945
Genre: Satire, Fiction
BBC List: #46

I am sure you have all heard of George Orwell's famous 'Animal Farm', it appears on most top 100 books of all time, and was number 46 on the BBC's 100 books to read before you die, which I am currently making my way through. Here is the original post about this challenge. 

I was aware of 'Animal Farm', but surprisingly I actually had no idea what it was about. How that happened I do not know, but thanks everyone for not spoiling it for me. If you also have no idea what the book is about and would prefer to remain ignorant about it, please tune out now as I am about to spoil it for you.

Animal Farm tells the tale of a group of farm animals who are sick of their master Mr Jones and the miserable existence inflected upon them by him at Manor Farm. Old Major, an old pig, ignites the idea of a rebellion and upon his death is seen to fruition by pigs, Napoleon and Snowball. The pigs, being the most intelligent creatures on the farm take on the role of authority once Mr Jones is driven out. The farm is renamed Animal Farm, with the animals adopting seven Commandments of Animalism, with the most important being 'All animals are equal'.

The pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership as they are the only animals who can read and write well. The farm is running smoothly until Snowball revels plans to build a windmill, at this Napoleon has him chased off the farm by a pack of dogs he has raised. Now as the sole leader of the farm, Napoleon enacts changes in governance to the farm and starts to spread lies about Snowball and make changes to the Commandments of Animalism, convincing the other animals they had always been this way.

The farm is attacked my a neighbouring farmer. The animals win the battle, but at a great cost. Boxer a work horse who is much admired among the animals is injured. Napoleon sends for a van to take Boxer to the vet, however upon it's arrival donkey Benjamin reads that the van is actually from a knacker. Rescue attempts are futile. Napoleon covers up the incident.

Eventually years pass and the pigs have learnt to walk on their hind legs, carry whips and wear clothes. All things orginally condemned in the seven Commandments of Animalism, which has been reduced to the single phrase "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". 

Did I enjoy the book? Yes and I can appreciate why it consistently appears in top 100 book list. It is both a bold comment on the events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and an entertain tale of farm animals taking over their farm and the trials that ensue. Animal Farm is not the kind of book I would normally pick to read, generally I lean towards the fantasy genre, but I am glad that I have now read it. Overall it was entertaining and intriguing, I know want to know more about the Russian Revolution and how the book interprets these events.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Animal Farm, I highly recommend this copy from The Folio Society. It is hardcover edition with beautiful illustrations that would make a beautiful edition to any library. 

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