Animal farm book review essay
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Animal Farm ( 1945 )
Amazon. com Top 100 Books of the Millenium
You could make a pretty good case that this short masterpiece should be #1. Orwell deals with the Russian Revolution via a barnyard allegory. The wise pig Major has come to the end of his days on Manor Farm. Before departing, however, he shares his dream of a world without Man.
The animals of Manor Farm soon revolt and establish Animal Farm, where «All Animals are Equal». This utopian ideal proves to be short lived as the pigs begin to take power and soon there are denunciations, show trials, rationing, special privileges for pigs and finally we find that while all animals are equal, «but some animals are more equal than others».
It’s a simple, but brilliant, satire that pretty much devastates Marxism.
Grade: ( A+ )
-FILMOGRAPHY : «george orwell» (Internet Movie Database)
-ESSAY : DID THE HEART OF ORWELL’S ‘1984’ GET LOST IN THE MOVIE? (Richard Grenier, NY Times)
-FILM REVIEW: Animal Farm a TV movie review (Rick Norwood, SF Site)
-ESSAY : The left’s ace of clubs : It sold books, held dances, supported causes and promoted socialism. Paul Laity on the radical venture that engaged the political passions of the British middle classes in the 1930s (The Guardian, July 7, 2001)
-REVIEW : of THE BLOODY CROSSROADS Where Literature and Politics Meet. By Norman Podhoretz (Cynthia Ozick, NY Times Book Review)
-REVIEW : of England, Their England Commentaries on English Language and Literature By Denis Donoghue (John Gross, NY Times)
-REVIEW ESSAY: Such, Such Was Eric Blair: a review of Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays by George Orwell, compiled and with an introduction by George Packer; All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays by George Orwell, compiled by George Packer, with an introduction by Keith Gessen; and Why I Write by George Orwell (Julian Barnes, 3/12/09, NY Review of Books)
Book-related and General Links:
Although the book leads to the demise of the equal soiciety, the animals were wrong in the beginning to create a leader. It’s not really equal at all if someone is controlling everything. Why didn’t the animals notice that at the start? If Benjamin was less of a stubborn ass he could have prevented this with Boxer’s strenght before Napoleon had the dogs to create the faslified dictatorship/communist society.
What does this have to do with the review?
What’s wrong with writing gay anyway?
I’ve had my fill (no pun intended) of redundant heterosexual narratives anyway. Hemmingway wrote well, Tchaikovsky wrote good music.
— Camilo Diaz Pino
He was a socialist who hated other socialists, which makes it difficult for most lefties to claim him. But he always absolutely loathed material inequality so the ‘right’ can’t claim him either.
He doesn’t fit neatly into any category — and actually anyone who really thinks intelligently about something for long enough will realise that nobody has all the answers, and so will ultimately defy categorisation.
And well done for making me laugh out loud.
Orrin’s thesis on Wittgenstein’s ‘Tractatus Logicus’. «he wrote gay».
A priceless gem to add to the great tradition of Wittgenstinian analysis.
Ever read Homage to Catalonia? The Orwell who returned was no longer a man of the Left.
By the way, might I just politely point out that your statement that «What he felt matters not at all compared to what he wrote» doesn’t sit at all well with your theories elsewhere on the site that the private lives of Hemingway and Wittegenstein make their prose worthless.
I guess there are (at least) 2 ways of reading ‘Animal Farm’:
1) as a critique of the Marxist utopian ideal itself for being impracticable (because people are too self-interested etc)
2) specifically as a damning indictment on those who distorted marxism in the pursuit of power after the revolution (Stalin = Napoleoon, obviously).
You’ve chosen to read it the first way. Maybe you’re right.
As to Orwell’s intentions. that’s a whole new debate.
On the one hand, you’ve got ‘1984’. On the other, you’ve got ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’, plus of course, the fact that he actually went to Spain to fight on the side of socialism.
What he felt matters not all compared to what he wrote, which was uniformly conservative.
I have no doubts that it wouldn’t work. Marxism is deeply flawed.
I’m just pointing out that ‘Animal Farm’ doesn’t go as far as saying that. The revolution itself and the Trotsky character are treated sympathetically.
I don’t think anyone has really fathomed exactly what Orwell’s political views were. They seem to have been inconsistent through his life. Certainly he considered himself some kind of socialist and Lefties normally claim him.
Its interesting that you claim him too.
Right, if ever pure Marxism is given a decent chance it’ll work.
No, it specifically ‘devastates’ Stalinism, not Marxism.
I’ve read Orwell’s Animal Farm three times now: once was in high school when I wasn’t paying attention, another was in my 20s when I felt I owed it a second chance and then again this week as part of an inquiry into what’s happening in the world. While it’s well known that the context Orwell was thinking of for the story was the Russian revolution, many themes resonated with the America and world I find myself in today. I’m also embarrassed to admit that for all this time I never knew that Pink Floyd’s Animals album was largely inspired by Orwell’s Book. Live and learn.
The insight of the book, beyond the allegorical fun of comparing people to animals, is its encapsulation of the nature of power. In this regard the book reminded me of Lord of The Flies, where little by little the assumptions about human nature are stripped away and what is left is surprising, true and terrifying all at once. By using a fairy tale it’s easy to keep some distance from what happens in Animal farm, after all it’s just a bunch of animals, but at the same time any reader understands that this is an allegory, and it’s making commentary about us all along.
The biggest surprise in this reading of the book was the gentle the slope of moral decay. Somehow we imagine that big changes come in waves, as popular history talks of revolutions and wars as sudden, dramatic events. But in Animal Farm as each layer of morality is stripped away it happens so slowly and naturally that it’s comprehendible some wouldn’t notice it at all. Or could easily choose to ignore it out of denial, stupidity, indifference or (increasingly) fear. Unless there are opposing forces successfully working against denial and indifference, what hope could there be?
I found myself asking How can it be so easy to separate the spirit of the law from the letter of the law? But then I think of the history of religion and mass movements, or debates about the 2nd amendment (where smart people on all sides have entirely opposing interpretations of the same handful of words) and know there are all too familiar patterns, dark ones, at work here. Somehow in the world of Animal Farm there are always good reasons for bad things happening, since the only reasons you are allowed to hear are ones that come from those in power, and soon you are compelled to want to believe life isn’t so bad at all, as it’s less scary than the alternative.
Without giving the story away, here are some choice quotes from the book, which I hope you will read:
From the preface / appendix:
“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.”
“If one loves democracy, the argument runs, one must crush its enemies by no matter what means. And who are its enemies? It always appears that they are not only those who attack it openly and consciously, but those who ‘objectively’ endanger it by spreading mistaken doctrines. In other words, defending democracy involves destroying all independence of thought. This argument was used, for instance, to justify the Russian purges. The most ardent Russophile hardly believed that all of the victims were guilty of all the things they were accused of: but by holding heretical opinions they ‘objectively’ harmed the régime, and therefore it was quite right not only to massacre them but to discredit them by false accusations.”
From the text:
“Man is the only creature that consumes without producing. He does not give milk, he does not lay eggs, he is too weak to pull the plough, he cannot run fast enough to catch rabbits. Yet he is lord of all the animals. He sets them to work, he gives back to them the bare minimum that will prevent them from starving, and the rest he keeps for himself.”
“THE SEVEN COMMANDMENTS
- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
- Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
- No animal shall wear clothes.
- No animal shall sleep in a bed.
- No animal shall drink alcohol.
- No animal shall kill any other animal.
- All animals are equal.”
“A bird’s wing, comrades,’ he said, ‘is an organ of propulsion and not of manipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg. The distinguishing mark of Man is the hand, the instrument with which he does all his mischief.”
“The animals formed themselves into two factions under the slogans, ‘Vote for Snowball and the three-day week’ and ‘Vote for Napoleon and the full manger.’ Benjamin was the only animal who did not side with either faction. He refused to believe either that food would become more plentiful or that the windmill would save work. Windmill or no windmill, he said, life would go on as it had always gone on— that is, badly.”
“and it became necessary to elect a President. There was only one candidate.”