When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality.
But gradually a cunning, ruthless élite, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another.
Most of us have read Animal Farm. We all know pretty well what it is: a satirical allegory in the form of a fable, and a parable on the history of Communist Russia from the 1917 Revolution to the end of 1943. That would be my literary definition, to which I would add that the book also has a wider symbolic purpose. In other words it’s about the Revolution but that’s not all it’s about. And while we know what the book’s about, what should be better known is how difficult it was for Orwell to get it published. One American publisher rejected it because he said there was no real market for animal stories. And even after it was published some bookshops placed it in the children’s section . . .
Extract from Slightly Foxed Issue 65, Spring 2020
I have a Russian wife. We work together – articles, talks, translations, books, to keep the wolf from the door. Sometimes, when a bigger than usual energy bill slides through the letterbox, or the...Read more