The animals of Manor Farm are tired of living under the tyranny of the farm’s owner, Mr. Jones. One evening, the boar Old Major summons the animals of the farm to a meeting. He tells them the story of a wonderful world where farms are run by the animals themselves. Old Major also teaches them a revolutionary song called “Beasts of England". With hope for a better life for all the animals, they revolt, and drive Mr. Jones away from the farm. From that day onward, the farm is known as “Animal Farm”. It will be run by the animals, which will all be considered equal.
George Orwell wrote Animal Farm during World War II. Being a not-so-subtle satire about the Russian revolution, the Soviet Union, and Stalin’s expulsion of Trotsky, Orwell had a hard time getting it published. Since the Soviet Union sided with the Allied powers during the war, the manuscript was initially rejected by a number of British and American publishers. It was not until 1945, only weeks before the war was officially over, that the book was published. It then became a commercial success, partly to changing international relations, and the Cold War.
George “The Genius” Orwell
Animal Farm is simply a work of genius. The novel takes on communism, and explains how it might be a good idea in theory, but why it fails in practice. Orwell explains everything in very simple terms, something that most likely contributed to Animal Farm’s success. He refrains from using a lot of the pompous language many other authors use, thus avoiding alienating a lot of people. Average Joe suddenly understand politics in broad terms.
The book is also very short. The UK paperback edition of Animal Farm is only 112 pages, which most reader will manage to plow through in an evening or two. Even better for Average Jane. More authors should take note, to be honest. It’s not necessary to write thousands of pages to be able to tell a good story.
5 years after Animal Farm was published, Orwell passed away from tuberculosis, at the age of 46. Before his death, he also managed to finish his dystopian masterpiece “Nineteen Eighty-Four”, a book that crawled its way to the best sellers lists1 again earlier this year.
I can’t help but think that George Orwell’s untimely death was a great loss for literature and critical thinking. His two most popular books are perhaps even more relevant today than when they were originally published. With a few more good years above ground, we can only imagine what other great works of fiction he might have produced.
Amazon saw a massive surge in sales. Ironically, they also sell devices that could have been pulled straight out of Orwell’s novel. ↩︎