Animal Farm

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Animal Farm  

US first edition cover
Author George Orwell
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Satire
Publisher Secker and Warburg (London)
Publication date 17 August 1945
Media type print (hardcover & paperback)
Pages 112 pp (UK paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-452-28424-4 (present) ISBN 13 978-0-452-28424-1
Preceded by The Lion And The Unicorn
Followed by Nineteen Eighty-Four

Animal Farm is a dystopian novel by George Orwell. Published in England on 17 August 1945, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before World War II. Orwell, a democratic socialist[1] and a member of the Independent Labour Party for many years, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and was suspicious of Moscow-directed Stalinism after his experiences with the NKVD during the Spanish Civil War. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as his novel "contre Stalin".[2]

The original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but A Fairy Story was dropped by the US publishers for its 1946 publication. Of all the translations during Orwell's lifetime, only Telugu kept the original title. Other variations in the title include: A Satire and A Contemporary Satire.[2] Orwell suggested for the French translation the title Union des républiques socialistes animales or URSA, which means "bear" in Latin.[2]

Time Magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005),[3] at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996 and is also included in the Great Books of the Western World.


[edit] Overview

The short novel is dystopian allegory in which animals play the roles of the Bolshevik revolutionaries[4] and overthrow and oust the human owner of a farm (Manor Farm), renaming it Animal Farm and setting it up as a commune in which, at first, all animals are equal; however, class and status disparities soon emerge between the different animal species (the pigs being the "greater species"). The novel describes how a society's ideologies can be manipulated and twisted by those in positions of social and political power, including how Utopian society is made impossible by the corrupting nature of the very power necessary to create it.

The novel addresses not only the corruption of revolution by its leaders but also highlights how wickedness in human nature (indifference, ignorance, greed and myopia) destroys any possibility of Utopia. While this novel deigns poor leadership as the flaw in revolution (and not the revolution of itself), it also shows how ignorance and indifference to problems within a revolution let the horrors happen.

[edit] Characters and their possible real-life counterparts

The events and characters in Animal Farm satirise Stalinism ("Animalism"), authoritarian government and human stupidity generally; Snowball is seen as Leon Trotsky and the head pig, Napoleon, is Stalin.

[edit] Pigs

Old Major, a prize Middle White boar,[5] is the inspiration that fuels the Rebellion in the book. According to one interpretation, he could be based upon both Karl Marx (in that he describes the ideal society the animals could create if the humans are overthrown) and Vladimir Lenin (in that his skull is put on revered public display, as was Lenin's embalmed corpse). However, according to Christopher Hitchens: "the Leon Trotsky elements are combined into one [i.e., Snowball], or, it might even be [...] to say, there is no Lenin at all."[6]

He introduces the animals to the song "Beasts of England", which becomes their anthem, and puts the idea of rebellion in the animals' heads.

Napoleon, a Berkshire boar ("a large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar, the only Berkshire on the farm, not much of a talker, but with a reputation for getting his own way."),[5] is the main tyrant and villain of Animal Farm and is based upon Joseph Stalin. He begins to gradually build up his power, using puppies he took from mother dogs Jessie and Bluebell, which he raises to be vicious dogs as his secret police. After driving Snowball off the farm, Napoleon usurps full power, using false propaganda from Squealer and threats and intimidation from the dogs to keep the other animals in line. Among other things, he gradually changes the Commandments to allow himself privileges such as sleeping in a bed and to justify his dictatorial rule. By the end of the book, Napoleon and his fellow pigs have learned to walk upright and started to behave similarly to the humans against whom they originally revolted. Napoleon's name adds to the novella's themes of totalitarian dictators rising from vacuum of power and absolute power corrupting absolutely. The character's namesake, Napoleon Bonaparte, forcibly took control from a weak government in 1799, installed himself as First Consul and eventually crowned himself Emperor.

The French Revolution served as inspiration for many of Karl Marx's ideas. In the first French version of Animal Farm, Napoleon is called César, the French spelling of Caesar.[2], although another translation has him as Napoléon.[7]

Snowball is Napoleon's rival. He is an allusion to Leon Trotsky. He wins over most animals, but is driven out of the farm by Napoleon. Snowball genuinely works for the good of the farm and devises plans to help the animals achieve their vision of an egalitarian Utopia, but Napoleon and his dogs chase him from the farm, and Napoleon spreads rumours to make him seem evil and corrupt and that he had secretly sabotaged the animals' efforts to improve the farm. In his biography of Orwell, Bernard Crick suggests that Snowball was as much inspired by the Workers' Party of Marxist Unification (POUM) leader Andrés Nin as by Trotsky. Nin was a similarly adept orator and also fell victim to the Communist purges of the Left during the Spanish Civil War.[citation needed]

Squealer, a small fat porker, serves as Napoleon's right hand pig and minister of propaganda. Inspired by Vyacheslav Molotov and the Soviet paper Pravda, Squealer manipulates the language to excuse, justify, and extol all of Napoleon's actions. He represents all the propaganda Stalin used to justify his own terrible acts. In all of his work, George Orwell made it a point to show how politicians used language. Squealer limits debate by complicating it and he confuses and disorients, making claims that the pigs need the extra luxury they are taking in order to function properly, for example. However, when questions persist, he usually uses the threat of the return of Mr Jones, the former owner of the farm, to justify the pigs' privileges. Squealer uses statistics to convince the animals that life is getting better and better. Most of the animals have only dim memories of life before the revolution; therefore, they are convinced.

Minimus is a poetic pig who writes the second and third national anthems of Animal Farm after the singing of "Beasts of England" is banned. He represents admirers of Stalin both inside and outside the USSR such as Maxim Gorky. As Minimus composed the replacement of "Beasts of England", he may equate to the three main composers of the National Anthem of the Soviet Union which replaced The InternationaleGabriel El-Registan, Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov and Sergey Mikhalkov.[citation needed]

The Piglets are hinted to be the children of Napoleon (albeit not truly noted in the novel) and are the first generation of animals actually subjugated to his idea of animal inequality.

The Rebel Pigs are four pigs who complain about Napoleon's takeover of the farm but are quickly silenced and later executed. This is based on the Great Purge during Stalin's regime. The closest parallels to the Rebel Pigs may be Nikolai Bukharin, Alexei Rykov, Grigory Zinoviev and Lev Kamenev.[citation needed]

Pinkeye is a minor pig who is mentioned only once; he is the pig that tastes Napoleon's food to make sure it's not poisoned, in response to rumours about an assassination attempt on Napoleon.

[edit] Humans

Mr. Jones represents Nicholas II of Russia, the deposed Czar, who had been facing severe financial difficulties in the days leading up to the 1917 Revolution. The character is also a nod towards Louis XVI. There are several implications that he represents an autocratic but ineffective capitalist, incapable of running the farm and looking after the animals properly. Jones is a very heavy drinker and the animals revolt against him after he drinks so much that he does not feed or take care of them, and his attempt to recapture the farm is foiled in the Battle of the Cowshed (the Russian Civil War).

Mr. Frederick is the tough owner of Pinchfield, a well-kept neighbouring farm. He represents Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in general.[8] He buys wood from the animals for forged money and later attacks them, destroying the windmill but being finally beaten in the resulting Battle of the Windmill (World War II), which could be interpreted as either the battle of Moscow or Stalingrad. There are also stories of him mistreating his own animals, such as throwing dogs into a furnace, which may also represent the Nazi Party's treatment of political dissidents.

Mr. Pilkington is the easy-going but crafty owner of Foxwood, a neighbouring farm overgrown with weeds, as described in the book. He represents the western powers, such as the United Kingdom and the United States. The card game at the very end of the novel is a metaphor for the Tehran Conference, where the parties flatter each other, all the while cheating at the game. This last scene is ironic because all the Pigs are civil and kind to the humans, defying all for which they had fought. This happened at the Tehran Conference: the Soviet Union formed an alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom, capitalist countries that the Soviet Union had fought in the early years of the revolution.[8] At the end of the game, both Napoleon and Pilkington draw the Ace of Spades and then begin fighting loudly, symbolising the beginning of tension between the U.S. and Soviet superpowers.

Mr. Whymper is a man hired by Napoleon for public relations of Animal Farm to human society. He is loosely based on Western intellectuals such as George Bernard Shaw and, especially, Lincoln Steffens, who visited the USSR in 1919.

[edit] Equines

There are four main equine (horse and donkey) characters: Clover, Boxer, Benjamin, and Mollie.

Boxer is one of the main characters. He is the pathetic symbol of the working class, or proletariat: loyal, kind, dedicated, respectful and physically the strongest animal on the farm, but naïve and slow. His ignorance and blind trust towards his leaders leads to his death and their profit. In particular, his heroic physical work represents the Stakhanovite movement. His maxim of "I will work harder" is reminiscent of Jurgis Rudkus from the Upton Sinclair novel The Jungle. His second maxim, "Napoleon is always right" is an example of the propaganda used by Squealer to control the animals. It was not adopted until later in the book. Boxer's work ethic is often praised by the pigs, and he is set as a prime example to the other animals. When Boxer is injured, and can no longer work, Napoleon sends him off to the knacker's yard and deceives the other animals, saying that Boxer died peacefully in the hospital and that the ambulance was an old knacker's van that hadn't been repainted. When the animals cannot work, Napoleon tosses them aside, for they mean nothing to him and Napoleon was not just done with Boxer because he could not work. He was also afraid of Boxer. Boxer had the strength and leadership to overthrow Napoleon. Napoleon saw that Boxer would never do this because he was too loyal.

Clover, Boxer's companion, is also a draft horse. She helps and cares for Boxer when he splits his hoof. She blames herself for forgetting the original Seven Commandments when Squealer had actually revised them. Clover is compassionate, as is shown when she protects the baby ducklings during Major's speech. She is also upset when animals are executed by the dogs, and is held in great respect by the three younger horses who ultimately replace Boxer. Beyond being the matriarch it is hard to find a political role for her in the novel.

Mollie is a self-centred and vain white mare who likes wearing ribbons in her mane, eating sugar cubes (which represent luxury) and being pampered and groomed by humans. She represents upper-class people, the bourgeoisie and nobility who fled to the West after the Russian Revolution and effectively dominated the Russian diaspora. Accordingly, she quickly leaves for another farm and is only once mentioned again.

Benjamin is a wise old donkey who shows little emotion and is one of the longest-lived animals; he is still alive at the end of the book and probably lives even longer than Napoleon. The animals often ask him about his lack of expression but he always answers with: 'Donkeys live a long time. None of you have ever seen a dead donkey.' Benjamin can also read as well as any pig, but rarely displays his ability. He is a dedicated friend to Boxer and is very upset when Boxer is taken away. Benjamin has known about the pigs' wrongdoing the entire time, but he says nothing to the other animals. He represents the cynics in society. Another possibility is that Benjamin is an allegory for intellectuals who have the wisdom to stay clear of the purges, but take no action themselves, such as pacifists, whose 'line' Orwell firmly disliked. Yet another possibility is that Benjamin is Orwell himself.

[edit] Other animals

Muriel is a wise old goat who is friends with all of the animals on the farm. She, like Benjamin and Snowball, is one of the few animals on the farm who can read (with some difficulty, she has to spell the words out first) and helps Clover discover that the Seven Commandments have been continually changed. She possibly represents the same category as Benjamin, though she dies near the end of the book from old age.

The Puppies, were raised by Napoleon to be his security force, and may be reference to the fact that Stalin's rise to power was helped by his appointment as General Secretary of the Communist Party by Lenin in 1922, in which role he used his powers of appointment, promotion and demotion to quietly pack the party with his own supporters. The puppies represent Stalin's secret police.

Moses the Raven is an old bird that occasionally visits the farm with tales of a place in the sky called Sugarcandy Mountain, where he says animals go when they die, but only if they work hard. He spends time turning the animals' minds to Sugarcandy Mountain and he does no work. He represents religious leaders, specifically the Russian Orthodox Church, and Sugarcandy Mountain is Heaven. Religion is banned in the new régime, and his religious persona is exacerbated by the fact that he is named after a biblical character. He feels unequal in comparison to the other animals, so he leaves after the rebellion, for all animals were supposed to be equal. However, much later in the book he returns to the farm and continues to proclaim the existence of Sugarcandy Mountain. The other animals are confused by the pigs' attitude towards Moses; they denounce his claims as nonsense, but allow him to remain on the farm. The pigs do this to offer the hope of a happy afterlife to the other animals, probably to keep their minds on Sugarcandy Mountain and not on possible uprisings. This is an allegory to Stalin's pact with the Russian Orthodox Church. In the end, Moses is one of few animals to remember the rebellion, along with Clover, Benjamin, and the pigs.

The Sheep represent the mass proletariat, manipulated to support Napoleon in spite of his treachery. They show limited understanding of the situations but support him anyway, and regularly chant "Four legs good, Two legs bad". At the end of the novel, one of the Seven Commandments is changed after the pigs learn to walk on two legs, so they shout "Four legs good, two legs better". They can be relied on by the pigs to shout down any dissent from others.

The Rats may represent some of the nomadic people in the far north of the USSR.

The Hens may represent the Kulaks as they destroy their eggs rather than hand them over to Napoleon, just as during collectivisation some Kulaks destroyed machinery or killed their livestock.

[edit] Alcohol

One of the Seven Commandments is that no animal should drink alcohol. The pigs, the rulers, not only disobeyed this rule but struck it out and then started buying and brewing alcohol for themselves. Alcohol perhaps is a metaphor for money, or rather the love of it.

[edit] Origin

George Orwell wrote the manuscript in 1943 and 1944 following his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, which he described in his 1938 Homage to Catalonia.

In the preface of a 1947 Ukrainian edition of Animal Farm he explained how escaping the communist purges in Spain taught him

how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.

This motivated Orwell to expose and strongly condemn what he saw as the Stalinist corruption of the original socialist ideals.[9]

In that preface Orwell also described what gave him the idea of setting the book on a farm:[9]

...I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge carthorse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.

Orwell encountered great difficulty getting the manuscript published. Four publishers refused; one had initially accepted the work but declined after consulting with the Ministry of Information.[10][11] Eventually Martin Secker and Warburg published the first edition in 1945.

[edit] Significance

The Horn and Hoof Flag (interpretation above) described in the book appears to be based on the hammer and sickle.

In the Eastern Bloc both Animal Farm and later, also Nineteen Eighty-Four were on the list of forbidden books up until die Wende in 1989, and were only available via clandestine Samizdat networks.[12]

The 1947 Ukrainian edition was an early propaganda use of the book.[clarification needed] It was printed to be distributed among the Soviet citizens of Ukraine who were some of the many millions of displaced persons throughout Europe at the end of the Second World War. The American occupation forces considered the edition to be propaganda printed on illegal presses, and handed 1,500 confiscated copies of Animal Farm over to the Soviet authorities.[clarification needed] The politics in the book also affected the UK, with Orwell reporting that Ernest Bevin was "terrified"[13] that it may cause embarrassment if published before the 1945 general election.

In recent years,[when?] the book has been used to compare new movements that overthrow heads of a corrupt and undemocratic government or organisation, only eventually to become corrupt and oppressive themselves as they succumb to the trappings of power and begin using violent and dictatorial methods to keep it. Such analogies have been used for many former African colonies such as Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose succeeding African-born rulers were accused of being as corrupt as, or worse than, the European colonists they supplanted.

The book also clearly ponders whether a focus of power in one person is healthy for a society. The book leaves the ending slightly ambiguous in this regard.[clarification needed]

[edit] Efforts to find a publisher

During World War II it became apparent to Orwell that anti-Russian literature was not something which most major publishing houses would touch — including his regular publisher Gollancz. He also submitted the manuscript to Faber and Faber, where the poet T. S. Eliot (who was a director of the firm) also rejected it; Eliot wrote back to Orwell praising its "good writing" and "fundamental integrity" but declaring that they would only accept it for publication if they had some sympathy for the viewpoint "which I take to be generally Trotskyite". Eliot said he found the view "not convincing", and contended that the pigs were made out to be the best to run the farm; he posited that someone might argue "what was needed .. was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs".[14]

One publisher he sought during the war, who had initially accepted Animal Farm, subsequently rejected his book after an official at the British Ministry of Information warned him off[15] — although the civil servant who it is assumed gave the order was later found to be a Soviet spy.[16] The publisher then wrote to Orwell, saying:[15] "If the fable were addressed generally to dictators and dictatorships at large then publication would be all right, but the fable does follow, as I see now, so completely the progress of the Russian Soviets and their two dictators [Lenin and Stalin], that it can apply only to Russia, to the exclusion of the other dictatorships.

"Another thing: it would be less offensive if the predominant caste in the fable were not pigs. I think the choice of pigs as the ruling caste will no doubt give offence to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are."

[edit] The Freedom of the Press

Orwell originally wrote a preface which complains about self-imposed British self-censorship and how the British people were suppressing criticism of the USSR, their World War II ally. "The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. ... Things are kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervenes but because of a general tacit agreement that 'it wouldn't do' to mention that particular fact." Somewhat ironically, the preface itself was censored and is not published with most editions of the book.[17][18]

Secker and Warburg published the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945 without any introduction. However, the publisher had provided space for a preface in the author's proof composited from the manuscript. For reasons unknown, no preface was supplied and all the page numbers needed to be redone at the last minute.[19][20]

Years later, in 1972, Ian Angus found the original typescript titled "The Freedom of the Press", and Bernard Crick published it, together with his own introduction in The Times Literary Supplement on 15 September 1972[19] as "How the essay came to be written".[20] Orwell's essay criticised British self-censorship by the press, specifically the suppression of unflattering descriptions of Stalin and the Soviet government.[20] The same essay also appeared in the Italian 1976 Animal Farm edition, with another introduction by Crick, claiming to be the first edition with the preface.[19] Other publishers were still declining to publish it.

[edit] Cultural references

References to the novella are frequent in other works of popular culture, particularly in popular music and television series.

[edit] Adaptations

Animal Farm has been adapted to film twice. The 1954 Animal Farm film was an animated feature and the 1999 Animal Farm film was a TV live action version (which differs from the book factually).[clarification needed]

[edit] Editions

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ "Why I Write" (1936) (The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell Volume 1 - An Age Like This 1945-1950 p.23 (Penguin))
  2. ^ a b c d Davison 2000
  3. ^ Grossman 2005
  4. ^ George Orwell (June 1976), La fattoria degli animali, Bruno Tasso (translator) (1 ed.), Italy: Oscar Mondadori, pp. 15,20  (Bernard Crick's preface quotes Orwell writing to T.S.Eliot about Cape's suggestion to find another animal than pigs to represent the Bolsheviks)
  5. ^ a b Google books online Animal Farm: A Fairy Story George Orwell, Signet Classic, 1996 ISBN 0451526341, 9780451526342 p25
  6. ^ Hitchens, Christopher (2002), Why Orwell Matters, Basic Books, pp 18.
  7. ^ Jean Quéval (1981), Edition Gallimard, ISBN-10 2070375161, ISBN 978-2-07-037516-5 
  8. ^ a b Moran page 39
  9. ^ a b Orwell 1947
  10. ^ Dag 2004
  11. ^ Orwell 1976 page 25 La libertà di stampa
  12. ^ Editors of German Wikipedia: [1]
  13. ^ Letter to Herbert Read, 18 August, 1945
  14. ^ Richard Brooks, "TS Eliot’s snort of rejection for Animal Farm", Sunday Times, 29 March 2009.
  15. ^ a b "The whitewashing of Stalin". BBC News. 2008-11-11. 
  16. ^ Taylor page 337 Writing to Leonard Moore, a partner in the literary agency of Christy & Moore, publisher "Jonathan Cape explained that the decision had been taken on the advice of a senior official in the Ministry of Information. Such flagrant anti-Soviet bias was unacceptable: and the choice of pigs as the dominant class was thought to be especially offensive. The 'important official' was, or so it may reasonably be assumed, a man named Peter Smollett, later unmasked as a Soviet agent."
  17. ^ Bailey83221 (Bailey83221 includes a preface and two cites: 1995-08-26 The Guardian page 28; 1995-08-26 New Statesman & Society 8 (366): 11. ISSN: 0954-2361)
  18. ^ Dag 2004
  19. ^ a b c Orwell page 15. introduction by Bernard Crick
  20. ^ a b c George Orwell: The Freedom of the Press - Orwell's Proposed Preface to 'Animal Farm’. 1945

[edit] Citations

[edit] External links

Personal tools