Title: Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Originally published: 1945
This is a top shelf book.
A parable, a fable, an allegory – whatever you want to call it, Animal Farm has a strong message. I believe that most schools force students to read this one too early, failing to give them the basis of knowledge to grasp what is truly being said and understanding the real-life players in communism the animals are mirroring, and if you once hated it I suggest coming back to it. It is worth looking at with fresh eyes.
George Orwell excels at showing his reader what is wrong with the world they are living in with simple, strong language. He is not verbose or condescending, he does not go on at length when the point can be given quickly, and this makes for a simple read through otherwise complicated territory. Many authors would fail at creating a short fictional account of communism, from its optimistic creation to its terrible reality, but Orwell does it masterfully, spinning a tale that is so entertaining and well-written you hardly realize you’re reading about history.
Orwell weaves small moments of foreshadowing into the larger message of a paragraph, sometimes a simple five words that you would miss the ominous nature of if you were simply skimming through. These tiny snapshots of the future are enough to get your guard up from the first three pages and it stays up as he carries you through the rest of the tale. You are taken on a ride that is maddening – especially when reading it almost seventy years after being written and understanding how strongly he was warning society while simply saying, “This is how it is” – but it is wonderfully written and does not leave you feeling abandoned with your emotions.
An interest in history and politics would cause the reading of Animal Farm to be more pleasurable than it would be otherwise. This being one of the reasons I believe this book should wait until later on in school years than it currently does (at least in Ontario school systems), I do suggest, as I said earlier, to read it again if you read it once and hated it. Perhaps you will feel that Orwell is simplifying the growth of communism and the harm it created, but that is not so: he has taken the notable moments in its history and created a powerful fable around them. There was no need to complicate it, it was right in front of our faces.