Free E-Book: Animal Farm, by George Orwell

Posted on July 17, 2011


Title:  Animal Farm

Author:  George Orwell
Date:  1945


“Animal Farm” Audio Book:


“Animal Farm” cartoon (full length):  See below

(Note:  The cartoon doesn’t convey the exact same message as the book.)

BOOK REVIEW of Animal Farm, by Richard J. Needham — The Calgary Herald, September 4, 1946

The great struggle in Europe is not between capitalism and Communism.  Rather, it is between Socialism and Communism.  The worst enemies of Communism are the liberal Socialists of Western Europe:  in particular, the liberal Socialists of Great Britain.

Hence, it is not surprising that the well-known English critic, George Orwell — who is both a liberal and a Socialist, and perhaps somewhat more of the former than of the latter — should have written the most devastating attack on Communism we have ever read.

Devastating, because it never mentions Communism.  Devastating, because it never mentions Russia.  Devastating, because it is written in the form of a quiet (but nevertheless deadly) satire.  Devastating, because it shows up, in the clearest possible light, the utter hypocrisy of the Soviet regime.

Mr. Orwell’s book, which has already caused a great stir in England, is now being distributed by the Book of the Month Club as one of its two September selections.  Entitled “Animal Farm,” it is published in Canada by George J. McLeod at $2.25.  We would like to recommend it most strongly.

It’s a very simple story.  As we say, Communism is never mentioned: neither is Russia.  The names of Lenin and Trotsky do not appear.  All the action takes place on a farm somewhere in England, and nearly all the characters are animals.  But the parallels are beautifully drawn: anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with Soviet history since 1917 will have no difficulty in catching the author’s meaning.

The story starts when the animals who work for Mr. Jones rise up in revolt.  Weary of exploitation by their drunken master, tired of seeing him take all the profits while they do all the work, they decide to run the farm by themselves.  Jones is driven away, and the horses, sheep, poultry and cows take over on a collective basis.  From now on, they decide, the farm will be run for use, and not for profit.  From now on, the doctrine of Animalism will prevail.

The revolution is led by the pigs: particularly by two rather talkative boars named Napoleon and Snowball.  They draw up a list of seven commandments–the tenets of Animalism–by which the farm is to be run.  But since this list of commandments is a little hard for some of the animals to understand, it is reduced to one simple slogan:  “Four legs good, two legs bad.”  The sheep catch on to this slogan immediately, and bleat it wherever they go.

For a while, everything goes smoothly.  But it isn’t long before the pigs seem to be gaining more and more power, while the other animals [seem] to be doing more and more work.  Pretty soon, the pigs have set up private quarters for themselves in the harness room, and are taking all the milk from the cows and all the apples from the orchard.

The pig spokesman, Squealer, explains this to the other animals:  “It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.  Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty?  Jones would come back!”

This threat–that Jones will return–is sufficient to keep the pigs in power.  And it is sufficient to keep the other animals working harder all the time, on steadily decreasing rations.  When doubts arise, Squealer makes a little speech, telling them how fortunate they are.  The sheep bleat out their slogan: “Four legs good, two legs bad.”  And the work of building up Animal Farm continues.

There are two great crises.  One day, Jones comes back, accompanied by several other humans.  But the animals, by a mighty effort, drive the men away.  Then a great conspiracy is revealed: Snowball, it appears, has been plotting against Napoleon.  Nine huge dogs–which Napoleon has been training in secret–drive Snowball away from the farm, and conduct a purge of other treacherous animals.

Time goes on.  The pigs have moved into the farmhouse: they are drinking whisky and sleeping in beds.  The original list of commandments by which Animal Farm was to be run has undergone remarkable modifications–in favor of the pigs.

Some of the animals are beginning–very secretly, of course–to wonder when the long-promised era of comfort and leisure will arrive.  Meanwhile, Napoleon has made friends with the once-hated humans of the district, and is openly boasting to them that the denizens of Animal Farm do more work, on less food, than any other animals in the county.

The book comes to a smashing end whtn the pigs suddenly appear wearing clothes walking on two legs, and carrying whips, while the sheep (previously instructed) bleat in chorus: “Four legs good, two legs better.”  The great Animalist revolution has reached its triumphant climax.

One eveing, not long after, the other animals hear a great commotion in the farmhouse.  They look fearfully through the windows, and see the pigs drinking and gambling with neighboring farmers.  “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again: but already it was impossible to say which was which.”