on August 1, 2004
"Animal Farm" by George Orwell was never required reading for me when I was in school, so it took me some time to finally get around to reading it. I found it to be a complete and enjoyable read that had me hooked from the very first sentence. It is an excellent exercise in symbolism and creative imagination. While the book may be a very short read, it brings a whole lot to the table by giving you an interesting take on how history can be reenacted in the most imaginative ways.
The animals on Mr. Jones' farm have had enough of what they deem to be slavery. They're tired of being ordered around by humans while they see no benefits in their daily work. This is all sparked by a dream that the boar, Major, had about a unique place where animals called the shots and never had to be ordered around by humans ever again. He tells them a revolution is very much needed. When Major dies, the animals act quickly and are able to overthrow the alcoholic farmer and his thugs from his very own farm. The pigs are in charge now, as they claim that they are much smarter than the others and know how to lead. What seems to be paradise quickly transforms into another form of slavery altogether enforced by propaganda and threats from the pigs. And yet, the animals do not know any better, as they are deceived by the new system that gives them the illusion that they are better off than they were with Mr. Jones calling the shots.
The book is greatly inspired by real events that went down during the era of communism in Russia, using animals as the actual people. While it helps to know about that time period, the book is written so well that it is easily understood even if you only know a little about what happened during that time. The use of animals was a very creative way to tell this story, as it gives you a big incentive to actually care for these characters. Had this just been about real people, then it would've just sounded like anything you could find in your history books. Orwell finds a much more interesting way of tackling the topic. He gives life to every one of his characters and they all elicit some kind of a feeling from you. There are times when the book is funny, and then there are times when it is just downright chilling (the last chapter will stay in your head for more than a few hours).
George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is a genuine masterpiece that quickly hooks the reader from the very beginning. It's an extremely easy read as well as an enjoyable one--not enjoyable in the sense that this is a "happy tale," but enjoyable in the sense that you really feel like you're reading something great. If you haven't had the chance to check it out, make sure you add this to your reading list. It is something that should be read by everyone at least once in their life, even if they don't end up enjoying it as much as others. I loved every single word that was written in the extremely creative read. This is an important classic in literature that shouldn't be missed for any reason. -Michael Crane
on September 15, 2004
"Animal farm" is to this day one of the best attempts to criticize a totalitarian regime through the means that literature provides: the power of words. George Orwell (1903- 1950) wanted to help others to realize things that for him were evident, and attempted to do so by writing a fable that can easily be read as a satire of the Russian Revolution. Orwell said in an article that "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows".
Orwell also pointed out that "Animal Farm was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole". He succeded beyond his wildest expectations, even though at first nobody wanted to publish this work because it was too controversial.
The plot of this book is relatively easy to grasp, and I think that is probably one of the reasons why it is so popular. Some animals decide to take over the conduction of a farm, because they believe there is too much injustice, and that they would improve the situation if they had the power to do so. They make a revolution, and end up evicting Mr. Jones, the owner of the farm. From that moment onwards, the farm is called "Animal farm"...
The animals establish seven "commandments", that they are supposed to obey at all moments in the new "Animal farm": 1- Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy, 2 - Whatever goes upon 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 another animal , 7- All animals are created equal. At the same time, all commandments can be comprised in a maxim: "Four legs good, two legs bad".
Everything seems all right for sometime, and all the animals work together for the success of the revolution, obeying the commandments and striving for a new order of things. However, after a while the pigs begin to think that being part of the animal revolution is not enough: they want to dominate it. After that first realization things take a quick turn for the worse, and we cease to be in the presence of a "wannabe utopical society", having instead to be unwilling witnesses to the birth of a new totalitarian society.
At that moment, the pigs even change some of the commandments. For example, the fourth commandment turns into "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets", and the sixth commandment says "No animal shall kill another animal without cause". Now, the commandments can be reduced to "Four legs good, two legs better". Finally, all the commandments will be replaced with one: "All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others".
All in all, I consider "Animal farm" extremely interesting, even though it is somewhat sad and pessimistic. The language is clear, and you won't find yourself wondering what the author meant by a phrase, or needing to read a paragraph again. From my point of view, that makes the reading process even more enjoyable.
Despite that, I believe that this book will be considerably more appreciated by those with some basic knowledge regarding the Russian Revolution. Only then will the reader be able to take full advantage of what this short fable can offer him, due to the fact that he will realize without too much effort that some of the fictional characters in "Animal Farm" were inspired by historical characters. For example, Napoleon (one of the pigs) was quite possibly inspired by Stalin, and Snowball (another pig) by Trosky. When you read this book, try to find the characters that represent the proletariat, the Communist Party, the intellectuals, etc... :)
On the whole, I regard this book as one of those you just need to read, but that fortunately you can also enjoy. The messages implicit in "Animal farm" are many, and the questions it makes you pose yourself are even more. But then, what better than a book that makes you THINK ?.
on December 1, 1999
A quite excellent book and the best political satire I have ever read. Can only be fully appreciated if the reader is familliar with the history of the Russian Revolution. For those who aren't, here is a list of who, or what, I thought the various animals and events represented.
Jones:= The Aristocracy. The Old Major:= Lenin. Napoleon:= Stalin. Snowball:= Trotsky. Squealer:= Beria?. Boxer:= The male Peasants. Dolly:= The female Peasants. The Pigs:= The Communist Party. The Dogs:= The NKVD. The Sheep:= The Army. The Raven:= The Clergy. The Donkey:= The Intellectuals, maybe the Jews. The Windmill:= Stalin's 5 year plans. Frederick`s Farm:= Germany. Pilkington Farm:= The West. The Counterfeit Money:= The Molotov-Rippentrop Pact.
Hope this is useful.
on March 23, 2003
Animal Farm is, quite simply, one of the best and most powerful books ever written. I first read it at 12 years of age but couldn't appreciate the author's entire message, not having the requisite knowledge of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath. Reading it again, however, I came to understand and fully appreciate the genius of George Orwell.
Animal Farm is a scathing criticism of Communism, or more specifically, the Communist system of the former USSR. Himself a Socialist, Orwell detested the way in which its ideals were twisted and manipulated by those in power in the USSR, resulting in a terrible fate for the common people.
The story pulls no punches; although Orwell uses the fictional setting of a farm with talking animals, his aim is to expose the reader to the hypocrisy of the Soviet regime. The figure of Josef Stalin is easily identified in the character Napoleon, one of the leaders of the animal rebellion. The leaders were first inspired by Major, an aging boar on the farm who clearly represents Karl Marx. Major had given the farm animals the idea that they should strive for a better life than their current plight . After his death, Napoleon and Snowball, another character representing Vladimir Lenin, lead the overthrow of the human-run farm and establish "Animal Farm." But Napoleon later assumes complete control over the Rebellion, and, as Stalin did, betrays virtually all aims and maxims originally put forth by the rebellion founders. The story ends with the common farm animals in a far worse state of affairs than when the story began.
Orwell used his "fairy story," published in 1945, to remind people of the dangers of Soviet Russia, and to differentiate it from the idea of Socialism. It is also a condemnation of totalitarianism in general (one can clearly see Joseph Goebbels in the character of Squealer, the mouthpiece of the rebellion).
These messages are just as powerful today as they were when Orwell first wrote them over half a century ago.
To paraphrase the chilling Commandment from the last chapter: "All authors are equal, but some authors are more equal than others."
Read, and understand. Orwell achieved a perfection rarely matched in literature.
on October 27, 2014
This is a terrible edition created of the classic whose copyright has expired.
It has been poorly formatted (font is too small and ugly) and badly printed.
it is not worth it, even at the low price .
It is also worrisome that the publisher is listed on the products page on Amazon
but this is not mentioned anywhere in the book itself. why not?
on May 21, 2013
ABRIDGED!!!!!! And therefore rotten.
Dont waste your money on this version. The actual book is great. Get one that is unabridged.
on October 20, 2015
I read this as a teen and read it again recently with my teen daughter. It was excellent both times. This is the story of a bunch of animals who take over a farm (kick out the human farmer) and run things their own way. Over time the pigs take over the farm - especially one authoritarian type by the name of Napoleon. The rules change as the pigs (who think of themselves as elite) centralize more and more control. The rest of the animals end up working harder and longer days and get less food rations that the pigs. Eventually the pigs morph into pig-like humans. This book is really about how far left government systems would play out in real life if they were allowed to run their course. The government that the animals and pigs set up has elements of communism, fascism, and socialism, depending on which angle you focus your attention. By the way, contrary to what some believe, Fascism is not a far right style of government it is decidedly far left.
on April 28, 2000
I have read and re-read Animal Farm since studying ithighschool, and yes it is a heart breaking allegory about the failureof organised idealogy, its also a gripping simply and sharply written story that can engage people on every level of the intellectual food chain.
Many readers will start off by pinning the signs on the donkey's backside so to speak i.e. Moses the crow who tells the overworked animals that their afterlives will be bliss represents the church. Benjamin the wise, but silent donkey is the silent intellectuals who could see what was going, but did nothing to save their own skin and so on. It still shocks me how accurate Orwell is, I can recognise a Squealer (the government publiscist talking in fanciful meaningless figures), a Napeloen and sadly too many Boxers in my own country. Strange that what Orwell wrote about the Russian revolution applies to almost any third world country today.
The simplicity of the prose of Animal farm is by design, he wanted his book to be accessable to the masses, afterall this is the man who changed his name from Eric Blair to Goerge Orwell just to appeal to the "average Joe". I don't think he would have wanted this book to be discussed by intellectuals, he wanted it to reach you and me.
Humanity has learned (in some parts of the world at least) that the only organised idealogy that works is the abscence of an organised idealogy. Utopia can never exist because 1- It can never be defined 2- It is against human nature not to strive to be better, superior, more powerful and richer then others. Unfortunate but true.
The character of Snowball is in my opinion the most important of the book. He is full of good intent, he wants to start classes for the other animals to elevate their understanding of the world. He is also a careless and unrealistic character. What Orwell is saying here is that intent without action is useless. A person who cares about injustice and can't do anything about it is no better than a person who doesn't give it a moment's thought.
Animal Farm is Orwell's masterwork, it is clairovoyant, the Soviet Union has indeed fallen. I believe the events of 1984 are only a few you years away, the government can already take pictures of your roof top. If you for some odd reason are among the few who haven't read Animal Farm, you must rectify that situation. It will make the inexplicable around you crystal clear.
on April 8, 2003
In 1946 when Animal Farm was first published it was obvious to is readers that former Eton boy Eric Blair, or George Orwell had written a pretty savage critique of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. But more than a decade after the final collapse of the Soviet Union, is this story still relevant? Well if it was just confined to the events of the Russian revolution, then perhaps this work could fade in to the fog of obscurity with it's purpose completed, but "Animal Farm" is about so much more, that as long as people walk on their hind legs and live together in any type of society, it's content will be of the gravest importance.
Beginning with the dream of Old Major that there will come a day when animals will throw off the yoke of their oppressors and share the fruits of their labours fairly among themselves, Animal Farm follows that dream to its eventual reality, it's betrayal and it's ultimate corruption in to something darker, more cynical and even farther from Old Major's noble dream than what had been before.
Although Animal Farm has implications for all past and future revolutions its meaning goes much deeper than just a blue print for what can go wrong. This novel challenges us to look around us and to see the ongoing exploitation of our neighbours, our brother man and perhaps even ourselves, to recognise the truly bewildering amount spin and slant presented to us as pure facts for what it is and to "cast a cold eye" on the society we live in and the way it treats its citizens.
In his excellent teachers notes on the novel Jerome Burg stated, "The essential question raised by Animal Farm is NOT "Could it happen again?" The essential question is "Do I realize that it IS happening everyday all around me?" and "What are MY responsibilities to do something about it?" I couldn't have put it any better myself.
on February 28, 2016
Since we find ourselves again in he maras of Presidential politics, a book written 3/4 century ago will open your eyes in a way you simply cannot imagine. I would encourage reading Orwell's "1984" as well. History has a funny way of repeating itself and while the powers that held control tried virtually everything to suppress this book, eventually it came to the light of day.