Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Animal Farm

Title: Animal Farm

Author: George Orwell

Number of pages: 95

Started: 1 April 2008

Finished: 2 April 2008

Opening words:

Mr Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes. With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a last glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones was already snoring.

Plot summary:

Having got rid of their human master, the animals of Manor Farm look forward to a life of freedom and plenty. But as a clever, ruthless elite among them takes control, the other animals find themselves hopelessly ensnared in the old ways. Orwell's chilling story of the betrayal of idealism through tyranny and corruption, is as fresh and relevant today as when it was first published in 1945.

Plot summary taken from Amazon.

What I thought:

Animal Farm is one of those books that I should have read as a teenager at school, but as was my nature at the time, if it was compulsory reading I didn’t do it. In some ways, having now read the book, I don’t think that was necessarily a bad thing. That’s not because it was a bad book, but actually because it was a good one – but I think as a teenager I would have failed to see the (not so) hidden message in the book. It would have just been a story, and one that I sped through in order to get it read for school. What I would have missed though was a simple and yet really effective look at communism. At times the way Orwell crafted the story was so simple that it was really impressive that he could have boiled down the essence of communism to a story of some mere 90 pages – and told through animals at that.

My knowledge of communism it has to say is somewhat limited and even now many of the finer points were probably lost on me, but even so I thought that the story was really clever and yet charming in its own way – despite the downward spiral that it took.

A really good book that in less than 100 pages told both a fictional tale and passed scathing judgment on communism.

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