October 04, 2012

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I have a mixed relationship with Orwell.  At times I greatly enjoy his works, and at other times (1984 I'm talking about you) I just can't bring myself to appreciate what are well known as classics.   Luckily, Animal Farm is one of the ones I can appreciate.

Ready for a Revolution, the animals at Manor Farm have had it with the way they have been treated by their human owners.  A rebellion breaks out and drives the humans away from the farm and the animals take it over for themselves.  They all chip in to do the hard work, but as time passes, certain animals raise themselves as leaders and begin delegating, promising great hopes of tomorrow for the other animals.  More and more the perfect society morphs into what they used ot know, with many of them being unaware of it.

These are animals, of course we're going to like them better than a story about people.  Who can't be charmed by a horse who wants to work hard or a donkey that just seems a bit gloomy.  And I think it's a brilliant way of putting the authors outlook on certain societies and government out there.  And the subtle way that it's done is most impressive too.  The pigs have brains, there's no denying that and it was interesting to see how Orwell used them to present the change in power amongst the animals.  I do think Orwell was a bit unfair to some of the animals though; there should have been a few outstanding cases amongst some creature other than the pigs, just like there are a few outstanding people amongst an unfair government as well.

Obviously this is based on the authors interpretation of communism.  But I think the bigger lesson, rather than focusing on any particular government, is that when you have a group of sentient beings, there are going to be some that want more power than others, and no equality can exist in such a dynamic.  No utopia will ever be reached because of this trait of humankind either.  It just so happens it's represented by animals in this book.  And this book isn't very long.  It doesn't even reach a hundred pages in my version which is astounding when you think about how much detail and how many ideas are packed into it.  And it's presented well without feeling rushed.  Although I do have to say, I would have appreciated it being even longer and more ideas being thrown out there.  As good as it is, I definitely can see it being even better.

A four and a half star book for me.  It's definitely a classic and presents a unique outlook on the power struggles that exist in life.

Animal Farm
Copyright 1945
85 pages

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