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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Animal Farm by George Orwell

I decided to read another classic while I’m searching for some more audiobook mysteries. I’ve got several suggestions, but it’s a matter of availability between the public library and the college library. And being available as an unabridged selection as well.

I spotted Animal Farm on the shelves and decided it was a good time to read this highly regarded work. No, it was not mandatory reading in any of my high school or college courses. The few literature classes I took in college were…odd…and we didn’t in any way read what I would consider ‘classic literature’.

Premise of the book from Since its publication in 1946, George Orwell's fable of a workers' revolution gone wrong has rivaled Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea as the Shortest Serious Novel It's OK to Write a Book Report About. (The latter is three pages longer and less fun to read.) Fueled by Orwell's intense disillusionment with Soviet Communism, Animal Farm is a nearly perfect piece of writing, both an engaging story and an allegory that actually works. When the downtrodden beasts of Manor Farm oust their drunken human master and take over management of the land, all are awash in collectivist zeal. Everyone willingly works overtime, productivity soars, and for one brief, glorious season, every belly is full. The animals' Seven Commandment credo is painted in big white letters on the barn. All animals are equal. No animal shall drink alcohol, wear clothes, sleep in a bed, or kill a fellow four-footed creature. Those that go upon four legs or wings are friends and the two-legged are, by definition, the enemy. Too soon, however, the pigs, who have styled themselves leaders by virtue of their intelligence, succumb to the temptations of privilege and power. "We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of the farm depend on us. Day and night, we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples." While this swinish brotherhood sells out the revolution, cynically editing the Seven Commandments to excuse their violence and greed, the common animals are once again left hungry and exhausted, no better off than in the days when humans ran the farm. Satire Animal Farm may be, but it's a stony reader who remains unmoved when the stalwart workhorse, Boxer, having given his all to his comrades, is sold to the glue factory to buy booze for the pigs. Orwell's view of Communism is bleak indeed, but given the history of the Russian people since 1917, his pessimism has an air of prophecy. --Joyce Thompson –

I used to love Russian History. It was fascinating. Dark. We had the movies Dr. Zhivago (not very good in my opinion), Rasputin (better). Lenin was taller than life. Stalin was/is everthing that was wrong. The masses yearning to have a better life. And somewhere along the way, I lost interest. Perhaps it was because Russia really never seemed to change.

The opinion expressed in the blurb mentions the reviewer felt Animal Farm was a better book than Old Man and the Sea. In this case, I have to disagree. I felt Old Man and the Sea was a much better book. I say this because I felt Animal Farm was just too heavy handed with the analogys. I found it to be a slow, predictable, read. The animals (peasants) were just too stupid to do anything without the pigs (ruling class) and thus were easily lead down the path to, in essence, slavery. Beat me over the head with it, why don’cha?

I know this is a beloved book to many, but I bounced off of it.

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