Animal Farm is the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama. Orwell is one of the very few modern satirists comparable to Jonathan Swift in power, artistry, and moral authority; in Animal Farm his spare prose and the logic of his dark comedy brilliantly highlight his stark message.
Taking as his starting point the betrayed promise of the Russian Revolution, Orwell lays out a vision that, in its bitter wisdom, gives us the clearest understanding we possess of the possible consequences of our social and political acts.
George Orwell (1903–1950) served with the Imperial Police in Burma, fought with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War, and was a member of the Home Guard and a writer for the BBC during World War II. He is the… More about George Orwell
“Animal Farm remains our great satire on the darker face of modern history.” –Malcolm Bradbury
“As lucid as glass and quite as sharp…[Animal Farm] has the double meaning, the sharp edge, and the lucidity of Swift.” –Atlantic Monthly
“A wise, compassionate, and illuminating fable for our times.” –New York Times
“Orwell has worked out his theme with a simplicity, a wit, and a dryness that are close to La Fontaine and Gay, and has written in a prose so plain and spare, so admirably proportioned to his purpose, that Animal Farm even seems very creditable if we compare it with Voltaire and Swift.” –Edmund Wilson, The New Yorker
“Orwell’s satire here is amply broad, cleverly conceived, and delightfully written.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“The book for everyone and Everyman, its brightness undimmed after fifty years.” –Ruth Rendell
With an Introduction by Julian Symons
George Orwell called Animal Farm a fairy story, and it can be enjoyed simply as a tale about how animals try to take over a farm from men, and find they can’t manage it. Many children read it in this way, siding with the animals against the farmer, saddened that things go wrong because of the nasty pigs, and weeping at the fate of Boxer. Perhaps in another hundred years it will be read only in such a light, as the satirical, political and social intentions behinds Gulliver’s Travels are now forgotten. But the tale Orwell called his little squib was devised as a satire eon the Soviet Union, and although that country no longer exists the influence it exerted on our ways of living and thinking will be with us certainly into the twenty-first century, so that it is still important to understand the time and circumstances in which this fairy-story satire was written.