George Orwell’s absolutely one of my favourite authors and his magnum opus is arguably ‘Animal Farm’, a short yet poignant allegory which can be enjoyed either superficially or taken apart piece by piece – Animal Farm truly is a book for everybody.
Animal Farm clocks in at only one-hundred and twelve pages but every single page is made to count. Orwell writes about a group of farm animals who rebel against their owner and reclaim the farm as ‘Animal Farm’, in the hopes of erecting a better farm for the animals that eventually spirals out of control.
On a superficial level this is simply a wonderful short story which is almost a spin on children’s literature. Orwell in a way writes a dark and twisted version of the nursery rhyme, ‘Old MacDonald Had A Farm’, only this time instead of idli making noises the animals read Marx & Engels’ ‘The Communist Manifesto’.
Animal Farm’s beauty however is that it’s an allegory about so much more than the plight of the animals. To appreciate this it’s useful to introduce some context around which the book was written by Orwell. Animal Farm had been published around the same time as the end of the second world war, in 1945. Yet, it is a reflection of events which transpired several years earlier during the Russian Revolution in 1917. Orwell was socialist but was not necessarily enamoured with the way it was represented by the USSR, in fact he actively opposed its totalitarian nature and expressed these frustrations through Animal Farm.
Orwell against this background then pens the book as an allegory and politically satirical piece about class, equality and inequality, power, control and corruption and then of course, the Soviet Union. That said, it can be extrapolated to any society whether that be capitalist, socialist, fascist or communist – Animal Farm represents the perennial issues which plague human societies regardless of their label(s). The UK government even has been grappling with the charges of corruption following fines issued to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, for attending the prime minister’s birthday party as death tolls rose for Covid-19.
I hesitate to use the label ‘classic’ but in its timelessness there is no doubt that it is what Animal Farm is. In 2022, Orwell’s book is just as relevant (although perhaps less obviously so) than it was back in 1945 – if you haven’t yet then you should absolutely add this title to your reading list.