George Orwell: Animal Farm

 

Animal Farm is an allegorical novella by George Orwell published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to and during the Stalin era before the Second World War. Orwell, a democratic socialist,[1] was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, especially after his experiences with the NKVD and the Spanish Civil War.[2] In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as his novel “contre Stalin“.[3]
The original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but the subtitle was dropped by U.S. publishers for its 1946 publication and subsequently all but one of the translations during Orwell’s lifetime omitted the addition. Other variations in the title include: A Satire and A Contemporary Satire.[3] Orwell suggested the title Union des républiques socialistes animales for the French translation, which recalled the French name of the Soviet Union, Union des républiques socialistes soviétiques, and which abbreviates to URSA, the Latin for “bear”, a symbol of Russia.[3]
Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005);[4] it also places 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.
The novel addresses not only the corruption of the revolution by its leaders but also how wickedness, indifference, ignorance, greed and myopia corrupt the revolution. It portrays corrupt leadership as the flaw in revolution, rather than the act of revolution itself. It also shows how potential ignorance and indifference to problems within a revolution could allow horrors to happen if a smooth transition to a people’s government is not achieved.

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8 responses

  1. George Orwell

    Hi there,
    how is the reading going?
    First of all, I wanted to tell you I really enjoyed our first session in the club. Thanks, Andrea and Helena, for this great initiative.
    Well, I must confess I have this habit of putting faces on works, so here I share the author’s photograph with all of you.
    By the way, interesting the easiness by which the pigs convince the other animals about their privilege on the apples right at the beginning of their Republic… ignorance, acceptance of the leaders’ superiority, non-questioning, lack of initiative, of criticism and self-assertment, and finally fear that comes by threatening…..all that results in a passiveness that leaves the animals on the farm defenseless… the whole question makes me think about our political present times…….I think this book was a good choice right now…

    Hope you are enjoying the reading as much as I am, and will be in touch!

    Roser

  2. Hello Roser and others,

    I’m nearly finishing the book and ejoying it very much. As I told you, they made me read this book at school when I was… maybe 13. At that time I thought the novel was about an animal rebelion in a farm… now I see much more than that. I also remember it was published many years ago in comic in the “Cavall Fort” magazine, so I remember some pictures of a pig in a ladder 🙂

    On the first pages I tried to look every word I didn’t know on the dictionary (Google translate helps a lot) but, after realising that most words were farm-related and I even didn’t know the meaning in catalan, I decided to go straight and just look for the words or sentences I didn’t understand by the context.

    At least I have learned and expression I had no idea: “to learn something by heart”, in catalan or spanish we say “to learn something by memory”. Curious difference.

    I’m looking forward to meet you all in our next meeting and to discuss about the political background of the book and to think if the message is still valid today.

    Best.

    Ramon

  3. Hi !

    At first, I was a bit surprised about a person who wants to change his name and his reasons for doing it.

    Britannica says :

    >>> http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/433643/George-Orwell

    “The change in name corresponded to a profound shift in Orwell’s life-style, in which he changed from a pillar of the British imperial establishment into a literary and political rebel.”

    Well, here there were people who did change their names, by political reasons, jejeje
    And there are rebel people hera also, keeping their names … for the rest of their lifes !

    And then, a second question came on its own : why did he choose “Orwell”, where does it come from ?
    Google provides some light on it :

    “derived from the beautiful River Orwell in East Anglia”

    Only the reason to choose “George” is missing, jejeje

    Keep well !

    Sebastian.

  4. May be it sound fine??

    Carles

  5. Hi, Carles – I agree it is possible to chose a new name for yourself only by its “sound”, but such an important act usualy is based on more solid criteria.
    As Lenin – he choose his name after the river where his brother was killed,
    or Stalin (from “steel”), who needed a nickname to confuse the police.

    Do you know other people who changed their names and their reasons for doing it ?

    Cheers. Sebastian.

  6. Dear friends

    Your e-mails are interesting and entertaining. It’s funny to know that George Orwell wasn’t the author’s real name.
    I read the book in Spanish fifteen years ago, when my sons went to school and this book was in their homework . But now, as I told you, it’s my first original English reading. I found it quite easy. A lot of times by the context I understood the meaning of the phrases. For me this book it’s the best choice

    I think the book is not only a critique of communism, I think you can move seamlessly to many current political systems. For example in the farm when things went wrong, always it’s Snowall’s fault. Or the changes in “The seven commandments”. Or the speeches of Napoleon about Boxer’s phrases. Or……
    What do you think?
    See you on November

    Asumpcio

  7. Hi!

    How is your reading going? I am near to finish the book, but I haven’t finished it yet 😦

    If you have time, maybe you’ll be interested in listening the audiobook. Although it’s not the full version of the book, it’s very similar and you’ll only miss a few paragraphs if you read the book at the same time you’re listening to the audiobook.

    Listen it on line or download MP3:

    http://archive.org/details/GeorgeOrwellsanimalFarmRadioAudio

    Even I didn’t find Animal Farm at http://librivox.org, it is also a good place to browse audiobooks, but don’t expect to find new releases 🙂

    Finally, I’m including 3 documents with on line resources to learn English which may be of your interest. I participated in a 3 days course in July, so these documents should be quite up-to-date.

    See you on Friday!

    Teresa

  8. Hi Teresa,

    Thank You. It’s a great idea.

    Fina

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