When Mr. Jones, a farming man, falls asleep after dipping into a drunken state, all of the farmyard animals congregate in a barn at the behest of Old Major, an elderly pig. He performs a rather invigorating display, making a speech about how they are mistreated as animals and need to rise up and revolt against their human overlords. He then mentions a dream he had wherein the world was turned around and humans did not exist.
He then decides to teach the other animals a song, ‘Beasts of England’, and they all join in on the song until their loud volumes awaken Mr. Jones and he grabs his firearm, firing it off in order to scare what he assumes to be a fox away. The animals are scared by the noise and they panic before falling asleep.
George Orwell’s chilling fable of Soviet Russia’s brutal dictatorship, Animal Farm brings to life in lucid, uncomplicated language the disastrous project of Russian Communism. This Penguin Modern classics edition includes an introduction by Malcolm Bradbury. ‘All animals are equal – but some are more equal than others’ When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality.
But gradually a cunning, ruthless élite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another. ‘It is the history of a revolution that went wrong – and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine,’ wrote Orwell for the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945.
Orwell wrote the novel at the end of 1943, but it almost remained unpublished; its savage attack on Stalin, at that time Britain’s ally, led to the book being refused by publisher after publisher. Orwell’s simple, tragic fable has since become a world-famous classic. If you enjoyed Animal Farm, you might like Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. ‘It is the book for everyone and Everyman, its brightness undimmed after fifty years’ Ruth Rendell, Daily Telegraph Books of the Century