Tuesday, December 31, 2013

[Reading the Classics] Animal Farm by George Orwell

[Rearranged from cover © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2003]
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Author: George Orwell
Publication Year: 1945
Pages: 84 (my edition)

Violence | Sexual ContentProfanity
My thoughts

"Four legs good, two legs bad"

I have decided that I love stories that utilise anthropomorphism to convey its ideas and themes. George Orwell builds an allegorical story based on the Russian Revolution: The Farm's ownership is overrun by its livestock (Battle of the Cowshed), and the pigs are the thinkers, the leaders, while all other animals do the labour and are quite content to do so under the new ruling.
"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."
This paves the way for corruption. At first the seven commandments are full of promise, much like the promises that certain politicians will provide to the public in order to win their trust--just long enough to twist every promise around in a way that will benefit only the politician & co. him/herself. I don't know nearly enough about the Russian Revolution so I'm just going to say how I found it as a literary work and unfortunately not from a historical viewpoint.

The seven commandments:
1. Whatever goes on two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes on four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal. 

This story is so incredibly bleak and hopeless. Everybody (who is not a pig or a dog) loses and nothing changes in the end; the conditions are as bad, and arguably even worse, as they were before the Revolution. Animal Farm is not a "fun" read, but it was easy to power through and it is very short and effective for its purpose. Orwell's point is easily translatable to contemporary events; its worth as a "classic" is well-earned. I would love to reread this in the future when I know more about this part of history to try to better contextualise this work of Orwell's. I plan to read 1984 later this year which I have been promised is also bleak, also hopeless, and also incredible.

Note: sorry for the really shallow thoughts. I really don't have that many regarding this book. I liked it, I found it was an intelligent and quick read. That is really all I have to say. :/

About the author

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 - 21 January 1950), who wrote under the pen-name "George Orwell", grew up in a "lower-upper-middle class" family.

Major Works by George Orwell
(in order of publication)
  • Down and Out in Paris and London (1933)
  • Burmese Days (1934)
  • A Clergyman's Daughter (1935) 
  • Animal Farm (1945)
  • Ninteen Eighty-four (1949)

About reading the classics

I have been reading more classics lately, and rather than just reading them, I've decided to share some of my thoughts with you. Reading the classics also motivates me to research a little bit into each of these famous authors, motivates me to understand the context and think my thoughts more complexly.

I will never write an essay--that's not the point of this, but if it gets even one person even thinking about reading this book then I'll be happy. Discussion is encouraged. If you have read this book or anything by this author, please leave a comment. =)

#1: Of Mice and Men // John Steinbeck
#2: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn // Betty Smith
#3: Mrs Dalloway // Virginia Woolf
#4: Animal Farm // George Orwell
#5: The Great Gatsby // F. Scott Fitzgerald
#6: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz // L. Frank Baum
#7: Breakfast at Tiffany's // Truman Capote

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