Thursday, October 24, 2013

Animal Farm - George Orwell

Animal Farm: A Fairy Story
I cannot believe it took me 26 years to read this book.

Didn't ever other person read this in high school?  How did it slip by in my educational process?

Thanks to Modern Library, I have finally read the Orwellian classic.  Had I known it was this short, I would have picked it up on a slow weekend in college.

Reaching only just over 100 pages, the little book is a satirical take on the Russian Revolution and the spread of communism in general.  Considering that most of you have probably read it, I am not going to bother with much of a plot summary.  This is all you are going to get: Animals take over a farm from the humans and attempt to run it on their own. Eventually, the pigs take the place of the humans and become indistinguishable from them.

Orwell obviously was not a proponent for the spread of communism.  Animal Farm exemplifies the satirical genre perfectly. Through the actions of the animals, he shows the progression of communism into socialism and how power corrupts.

I enjoyed this book far more than I expected. As soon as I learned that Orwell's original subtitle for the book was "A Fairy Story" I raised my expectations. The book ended up being, in spite of its heavy content, almost light and playful. There is something about an animal story that has an undeniable elementary element. Probably because that is what we were all read as children. I have no doubt that Orwell chose his cast of characters specifically so they would be relatable to not only all ages, but also particularly to the lower classes, those to whom communism seems so appealing at the outset.

I actually did learn from the book as well. I have never really understood how communism turns to socialism post revolution. I mean, I know that people in power become just as bad and controlling as their predecessors - often worse. But certainly most revolutions do not start with that intent. Orwell's story captured perfectly the transition from good intent to a corrupt leadership. Each step along the way is such a small one. A few words added to each original rule change everything until the revolutionary government is unrecognizable.

If you have not read this book, I highly recommend it. It is educational and an enjoyable read. It gave me a better understanding of early twentieth century history. At the bottom line, Animal Farm is a classic. It's on the list for a reason.

Pages: 112
Date Completed: October 13, 2013

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