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You can read this novel as an introduction to the Elite Theory ;-). Here is a pretty interesting discussion (crookedtimber.org ):
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Animal Farm is an allegorical and dystopian novel by George Orwell, published in England on 17 August 1945. According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917 and then on into the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, especially after his experiences with the NKVD and the Spanish Civil War. The Soviet Union, he believed, had become a brutal dictatorship, built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a reign of terror. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as a satirical tale against Stalin "une conte satirique contre Stalin", and in his essay "Why I Write" (1946), he wrote that Animal Farm was the first book in which he had tried, with full consciousness of what he was doing, "to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole".
The original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, though 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 it. Other variations in the title include: A Satire and A Contemporary Satire. 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.
Orwell wrote the book from November 1943–February 1944, when the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union was at its height and Stalin was held in high esteem in Britain among the people and intelligentsia, a fact that Orwell hated. It was initially rejected by a number of British and American publishers, including one of Orwell's own, Victor Gollancz. Its publication was thus delayed, though it became a great commercial success when it did finally appear partly because the Cold War so quickly followed World War II.
Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005); it also featured 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 selection.
The novel addresses not only the corruption of the revolution by its leaders, but also the ways 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.
Old Major, the old boar on the Manor Farm, calls the animals on the farm together for a meeting, during which he compares the humans to parasites and teaches the animals a revolutionary song, 'Beasts of England'. When Major dies, two young pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, assume command and consider it a duty to prepare for the Rebellion. The animals revolt and drive the drunken and irresponsible Mr Jones from the farm, renaming it "Animal Farm". They adopt Seven Commandments of Animalism, the most important of which is, "All animals are equal".
Snowball attempts to teach the animals reading and writing; food is plentiful, and the farm runs smoothly. The pigs elevate themselves to positions of leadership and set aside special food items, ostensibly for their personal health. Napoleon takes the pups from the farm dogs and trains them privately. Napoleon and Snowball struggle for leadership. When Snowball announces his plans to build a windmill, Napoleon has his dogs chase Snowball away and declares himself leader.
Napoleon enacts changes to the governance structure of the farm, replacing meetings with a committee of pigs, who will run the farm. Through a young pig named Squealer, Napoleon claims credit for the windmill idea. The animals work harder with the promise of easier lives with the windmill. When the animals find the windmill collapsed after a violent storm, Napoleon and Squealer convince the animals that Snowball destroyed it. Once Snowball becomes a scapegoat, Napoleon begins purging the farm with his dogs, killing animals he accuses of consorting with his old rival. 'Beasts of England' is replaced by an anthem glorifying Napoleon, who appears to be adopting the lifestyle of a man. The animals remain convinced that they are better off than they were when under Mr Jones.
Mr Frederick, one of the neighbouring farmers, attacks the farm, using blasting powder to blow up the restored windmill. Though the animals win the battle, they do so at great cost, as many, including Boxer the workhorse, are wounded. Despite his injuries, Boxer continues working harder and harder, until he collapses while working on the windmill. Napoleon sends for a van to take Boxer to the veterinary surgeon, explaining that better care can be given there. Benjamin, the cynical donkey who "could read as well as any pig", notices that the van belongs to a knacker, and attempts a futile rescue. Squealer reports that the van was purchased by the hospital and the writing from the previous owner had not been repainted. He recounts a tale of Boxer's death in the hands of the best medical care.
Years pass, and the pigs learn to walk upright, carry whips, and wear clothes. The Seven Commandments are reduced to a single phrase: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others". Napoleon holds a dinner party for the pigs and local farmers, with whom he celebrates a new alliance. He abolishes practice of the revolutionary traditions and renames the farm "The Manor Farm". The animals, overhearing the conversation, notice that the faces of the pigs have begun changing. During a poker match, an argument breaks out between Napoleon and Mr Pilkington, and the animals realise that the faces of the pigs look like the faces of humans, and no one can tell the difference between them.
George Orwell wrote the manuscript in 1943 and 1944 subsequent to his experiences during the Spanish Civil War, which he described in Homage to Catalonia (1938). 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.
Immediately prior to his writing, Orwell had quit the BBC. He was also upset about a booklet for propagandists the Ministry of Information had put out. The booklet included instructions on how to quell ideological fears of the Soviet Union, such as directions to claim that the Red Terror was a figment of Nazi imagination.
In the preface, Orwell also described the source of the idea of setting the book on a farm:
...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, as it was feared that the book might upset the alliance between the US, UK and the Soviet Union. Four publishers refused; one had initially accepted the work but declined after consulting the Ministry of Information. Eventually, Secker and Warburg published the first edition in 1945.
During World War II, it became apparent to Orwell that anti-Soviet 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) rejected it; Eliot wrote back to Orwell praising its "good writing" and "fundamental integrity", but declared 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". Orwell let André Deutsch, who was working for Nicholson & Watson in 1944, read the typescript, and Deutsch was convinced that Nicholson & Watson would want to publish it; however, they did not, and "lectured Orwell on what they perceived to be errors in Animal Farm." In his London Letter on 17 April 1944 for Partisan Review, Orwell wrote that it was "now next door to impossible to get anything overtly anti-Russian printed. Anti-Russian books do appear, but mostly from Catholic publishing firms and always from a religious or frankly reactionary angle."
The publisher Jonathan Cape, who had initially accepted Animal Farm, subsequently rejected the book after an official at the British Ministry of Information warned him off — although the civil servant who it is assumed gave the order was later found to be a Soviet spy. 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. It may reasonably be assumed that the 'important official' was a man named Peter Smollett, who was later unmasked as a Soviet agent. Orwell was suspicious of Smollett/Smolka, and he would be one of the names Orwell included in his list of Crypto-Communists and Fellow-Travellers sent to the Information Research Department in 1949. Born Hans Peter Smolka in Vienna in 1912, he came to Britain in 1933 as an NKVD agent with the codename 'Abo', became a naturalized British subject in 1938, changed his name, and after the outbreak of World War II joined the Ministry of Information where he organised pro-Soviet propaganda, working with Kim Philby in 1943-45. Smollett's family have rejected the accusation that he was a spy. The publisher wrote to Orwell, saying:
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.
Frederic Warburg also faced pressures against publication, even from people in his own office and from his wife Pamela, who felt that it was not the moment for ingratitude towards Stalin and the heroic Red Army, which had played a major part in defeating Hitler. A Russian translation was printed in the paper Posev, and in giving permission for a Russian translation of Animal Farm, Orwell refused in advance all royalties. A translation in Ukrainian, which was produced in Germany, was confiscated in large part by the American wartime authorities and handed over to the Soviet repatriation commission.
In October 1945, Orwell wrote to Fredric Warburg expressing interest in pursuing the possibility that the political cartoonist David Low might illustrate Animal Farm. Low had written a letter saying that he had had "a good time with ANIMAL FARM - an excellent bit of satire - it would illustrate perfectly." Nothing came of this, and a trial issue produced by Secker & Warburg in 1956 illustrated by John Driver was abandoned, but the Folio Society published an edition in 1984 illustrated by Quentin Blake and an edition illustrated by the cartoonist Ralph Steadman was published by Secker & Warburg in 1995 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first edition of Animal Farm.
Orwell originally wrote a preface complaining about 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." Although the first edition allowed space for the preface, it was not included, and as of June 2009 it has not been published with most editions of the book.
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.
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 as "How the essay came to be written". Orwell's essay criticised British self-censorship by the press, specifically the suppression of unflattering descriptions of Stalin and the Soviet government. 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. Other publishers were still declining to publish it.[clarification needed]
Contemporary reviews of the work were not universally positive. Writing in the American New Republic magazine, George Soule expressed his disappointment in the book, writing that it "puzzled and saddened me. It seemed on the whole dull. The allegory turned out to be a creaking machine for saying in a clumsy way things that have been said better directly." Soule argued that the animals were not consistent enough with their real world inspirations, and said, "It seems to me that the failure of this book (commercially it is already assured of tremendous success) arises from the fact that the satire deals not with something the author has experienced, but rather with stereotyped ideas about a country which he probably does not know very well".
Tosco Fyvel, writing in Tribune, 24 August 1945, called the book " a gentle satire on a certain State and on the illusions of an age which may already be behind us." Julian Symons responded, on 7 September, "Should we not expect, in Tribune at least, acknowledgement of the fact that it is a satire not at all gentle upon a particular State - Soviet Russia? It seems to me that a reviewer should have the courage to identify Napoleon with Stalin, and Snowball with Trotsky, and express an opinion favourable or unfavourable to the author, upon a political ground. In a hundred years time perhaps, Animal Farm may be simply a fairy story, today it is a political satire with a good deal of point." Animal Farm has been subject to much comment in the decades since these early remarks.
The pigs Snowball, Napoleon, and Squealer adapt Old Major's ideas into 'a complete system of thought', which they formally name Animalism. Soon after, Napoleon and Squealer indulge in the vices of humans (drinking alcohol, sleeping in beds, trading). Squealer is employed to alter the Seven Commandments to account for this humanisation, an allusion to the Soviet government's revising of history in order to exercise control of the people's beliefs about themselves and their society.
Squealer sprawls at the foot of the end wall of the big barn where the Seven Commandments were written (ch. viii)—preliminary artwork for a 1950 strip cartoon by Norman Pett and Donald Freeman
The original commandments are:
Later, Napoleon and his pigs secretly revise some commandments to clear themselves of accusations of law-breaking. The changed commandments are as follows, with the changes bolded:
Eventually, these are replaced with the maxims, "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others", and "Four legs good, two legs better!" as the pigs become more human. This is an ironic twist to the original purpose of the Seven Commandments, which were supposed to keep order within Animal Farm by uniting the animals together against the humans and preventing animals from following the humans' evil habits. Through the revision of the commandments, Orwell demonstrates how simply political dogma can be turned into malleable propaganda.
The Horn and Hoof Flag described in the book appears to be based on the hammer and sickle.
In the Eastern Bloc, both Animal Farm and later Nineteen Eighty-Four were on the list of forbidden books until the end of communism in 1989, and were only available via clandestine Samizdat networks.
Orwell biographer Jeffrey Meyers has written, "virtually every detail has political significance in this allegory." Orwell himself wrote in 1946, "Of course I intended it primarily as a satire on the Russian revolution..[and] that kind of revolution (violent conspiratorial revolution, led by unconsciously power hungry people) can only lead to a change of masters [-] revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert." In a preface for a 1947 Ukrainian edition, he stated, "... for the past ten years I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the socialist movement. On my return from Spain [in 1937] I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages."
The revolt of the animals against Farmer Jones is Orwell's analogy with the October 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, and Jones's attempt to regain control, with the aid of neighbouring farmers, parallels the Western powers' efforts 1918-21 to crush the Bolsheviks. The pigs' rise to pre-eminence mirrors the rise of a Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR, just as Napoleon's emergence as the farm's sole leader reflects Stalin's emergence. The pigs' appropriation of milk and apples for their own use, "the turning point of the story" as Orwell termed it in a letter to Dwight Macdonald, stands as an analogy for the crushing of the left-wing 1921 Kronstadt revolt against the Bolsheviks, and the difficult efforts of the animals to build the windmill suggest the various Five Year Plans. The puppies controlled by Napoleon parallel the nurture of the secret police in the Stalinist structure, and the pigs' treatment of the other animals on the farm recalls the internal terror faced by the populace in the 1930s. In chapter seven, when the animals confess their nonexistent crimes and are killed, Orwell directly alludes to the purges, confessions and show trials of the late 1930s. These contributed to Orwell's conviction that the Bolshevik revolution had been corrupted and the Soviet system become rotten.
Peter Edgerly Firchow and Peter Davison consider that in real life, with events in Animal Farm mirroring those in the Soviet Union, the Battle of the Windmill represents the Great Patriotic War (World War II), especially the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Moscow. During the battle, Fredrick drills a hole and places explosives inside, and then "All the animals, including Napoleon" took cover; Orwell had the publisher alter this to "All the animals except Napoleon" in recognition of Joseph Stalin's decision to remain in Moscow during the German advance. This very particular alteration had been occasioned by Orwell having been in Paris in March 1945, working as a war correspondent for the Observer and the Manchester Evening News. In Paris he met Joseph Czapski, a survivor of the Katyn Massacre. In spite of Czapski's opposition to the Soviet regime, he told Orwell, as Orwell wrote to Arthur Koestler, that it had been 'the character [and] greatness of Stalin' that saved Russia from the German invasion.
The Battle of the Cowshed represents the allied invasion of the Soviet Russia in 1918, and the defeat of the White Russians in the Russian Civil War.
Front row (left to right): Rykov, Skrypnyk and Stalin—'When Snowball comes to the crucial points in his speeches he is drowned out by the sheep (Ch. V), just as in the party Congress in 1927 [above], at Stalin's instigation 'pleas for the opposition were drowned in the continual, hysterically intolerant uproar from the floor'.
Other connections that writers have suggested illustrate Orwell's telescoping of Russian history from 1917 to 1943 include the wave of rebelliousness that ran through the countryside after the Rebellion, which stands for the abortive revolutions in Hungary and in Germany (Ch IV); the conflict between Napoleon and Snowball (Ch V), paralleling "the two rival and quasi-Messianic beliefs that seemed pitted against one another: Trotskyism, with its faith in the revolutionary vocation of the proletariat of the West; and Stalinism with its glorification of Russia's socialist destiny"; Napoleon's dealings with Whymper and the Willingdon markets (Ch VI), paralleling the Treaty of Rapallo; and Frederick's bank notes, paralleling the Hitler-Stalin non-aggression pact of August 1939, which are forgeries. Frederick attacks Animal Farm without warning and destroys the windmill.
The book's close, with the pigs and men in a kind of rapprochement, reflected Orwell's view of the 1943 Teheran Conference that seemed to display the establishment of "the best possible relations between the USSR and the West"—but in reality were destined, as Orwell presciently predicted, to continue to unravel. The disagreement between the allies and the start of the Cold War is suggested when Napoleon and Pilkington, both suspicious, "played an ace of spades simultaneously".
References to the novella are frequent in other works of popular culture, particularly in popular music and television series.
A BBC radio version, produced by Rayner Heppenstall, was broadcast in January 1947. Orwell listened to the production at his home in Canonbury Square in London, with Hugh Gordon Porteous, amongst others. Orwell later wrote to Heppenstall that Porteous, 'who had not read the book, grasped what was happening after a few minutes.' A further radio production, again using Orwell's own dramatisation of the book, was broadcast in January 2013 on BBC Radio Four. Tamsin Greig narrated and the cast included Nicky Henson as Napoleon, Toby Jones as the propagandist Squealer, and Ralph Ineson as Boxer.
Animal Farm has been adapted to film twice, with a third version to potentially follow in 2012. The 1954 Animal Farm film was an animated feature and the 1999 Animal Farm film was a TV live action version. Both differ from the novel, and have been accused of taking significant liberties, including sanitising some aspects. In the 1954 version, Napoleon is apparently overthrown in a second revolution. The 1999 film shows Napoleon's regime collapsing in on itself, with the farm having new human owners, as happened in the Soviet Union, appropriating the new political reality to the story. In 2012, a HFR-3D version of Animal Farm potentially directed by Andy Serkis was announced.
A theatrical version, with music by Richard Peaslee and lyrics by Adrian Mitchell, was staged at the National Theatre London on 25 April 1984, directed by Peter Hall. It toured nine cities in 1985. A solo version, adapted and performed by Guy Masterson, premièred at the Traverse Theatre Edinburgh in January 1995 and has toured worldwide since.
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