Saturday, November 24, 2007

Book Review: Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm is the allegorical tale of how a group of mistreated animals successfully revolt against the human occupants of a farm and set up their own state where "all animals are equal". However, it does not take long before a new hierachy is established and the pigs take over the daily running of the farm, quickly becoming corrupted by luxuries such as television, beds and alcohol.

This is a wonderful satire of communist Russia and all the better for its prophetic plot; a plot which is engrossing but surprisingly simply told even though it deals with fairly complex political issues. The characters are equally as memorable as the plot, with only the hardest reader failing to be moved by the demise of Boxer, the hard working horse who tries his hardest to increase productivity. Similarly, the dictatorial Napoleon becomes a loathsome character backed by his secret police of the guard dogs and his "minister" of propoganda.

Unhappily, the point that this novel makes is all too relevant today as it was on publication and the inequality that results and the arrogance of the pigs is not limited to communist states. For me, the best scene is when the working animals stage a protest over who gets the milk and apples which is quelled when the pigs order the guard dogs to drag the television into the barn. This symbolism is reflected across most of the world where mobile phones and other gadgets keep people from thinking about the things that really matter.

This is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read and surprisingly easy to read - simple enough for it to be a bedtime story for children aged as young as 7 or 8. Brilliant.

I would recommend this to all readers and with a book of this quality and accessibility it should be far more widely studied in schools. If you have not yet read this book do so; if have read it before, read it again - one read good, two reads better!

Score: 10/10

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