I finally got around to reading Animal Farm and my primary feeling is “why did it take me so long?”. Animal Farm is actually my sisters favourite book, she read it during her GCSEs. She told me, at the age of 14, that I had to read this book. She’s 20 in a couple of months and I have only just got around to this!
This book is so simple but it conveys such an important message, it’s brilliant. It is presented as a fairy story, though it is more of an elongated fable, it has the simple language of a children’s book but depth of meaning that I’ve not experienced before. Exploring communist Russia through the eyes of animals, well, it was genius. But the moral of this book still exists today, it’s just as relevant to read now as it was when it was first published in 1945.
All of the animals on this farm had human counterparts. The pigs were the government (in the metaphor of Russia they were Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky etc.), the horses were the hard-working members of society who believed in the government, the dogs were (essentially) the KGB. The revolution becomes much less idyllic with the pigs ruling the roost; changing laws put out at the start to suit their pleasure, by the end of the book “All animals are equal” becomes “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
I think it is fair to say that this is the best novella I have ever read. At just 120 pages I was blown away. This covered so much ground and really made such a big societal event manageable. I can see why this book is on reading lists for pre-16 education. What Orwell achieved in this book is mindblowing. It wasn’t perfect, but it’s a book I would definitely love to reread, so I gave it 4* but I’m still teetering on whether or not to bump it to 5*. I wish I had read this before I read 1984!