Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges…
This was a reread for me but it had been so long since I last read it that I only remembered the general story. I was happy to find that this little book managed to surprise me all over again.
In case you didn’t know, this book borrows a lot from the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era. Once you know the most important historical players, it’s easy to recognise them in this story.
But even if you don’t want to look into the history, you can still enjoy the story in itself.
The basic idea is that the animals at Animal Farm want to escape the brutal Mr. Jones, so they take the farm for themselves and kick the farmer out. All the other farms around them are convinced that the animals will starve in no time but they manage to pull through and make it work. However, it’s not as great as it may seem.
The pigs have taken control over the farm because they can read and make plans, while the other animals can’t manage the alphabet so they decide to make things as simple as possible. For example: “Four legs good, two legs bad.” and “All animals are equal.”
But after a while, the pigs start changing the rules to benefit them and the other animals have no choice but to accept these changes because of course “they don’t want Jones back, do they?”
So does it surprise anyone when things get worse and worse until you can’t be sure if they are actually better off than they were before. In the end it always comes down to the same thing: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Orwell is a master in writing stories that draw you in and once you start reading, you can’t stop.
I really enjoy this kind of story. I felt the same way when reading High-Rise by JG Ballard, Lord of the Flies by William Golding and of course 1984 by George Orwell. It’s that kind of story that starts slow and before you know it, everthing is going wrong.
The many layers in this book, make it a great read for a wide range of people. I’m pretty sure that everyone can get something out of it. Whether you read it as a fairytale or with a historical eye, the story remains great no matter what. Plus, it’s a great one to reread and discover little details you missed last time.