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Animal Farm

Animal Farm is a novel by George Orwell, ostensibly about a group of animals who oust the humans from the farm they live on and endeavour to run it themselves.

Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers!

After the revolution on Manor Farm (duly renamed Animal Farm), the pigs, who have developed the doctrine of Animalism and lead the revolution, gradually take over. The two boars, Napoleon and Snowball, engage in a power struggle culminating in the expulsion of Snowball. Life on the farm becomes harder and harder for the rest of the animals. At the climax of the book they see the pigs and humans talking together, and see no difference between them.

The book was an allegory about the events following the revolution in the Soviet Union, and in particular the rise of Stalinism. Many of the characters in the book are identifiable as historical figures. Napoleon and Snowball are direct representations of Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky respectively. Their disagreement about the direction the farm should take is meant to represent the ideological disagreement between Trotsky (whose theory of 'Permanent Revolution' would have sought to advance the revolution across the world, and Stalin (whose theory was to consolidate the revolution in Russia, commonly referred to as 'Socialism in One Country[?]'). Boxer, the cart horse, portrays Stakhanov[?] after whom the Stakhanovite movement was named.

Orwell wrote the book following his experiences during the Spanish Civil War which are described in another of his books, Homage to Catalonia. He intended it to be a strong condemnation of what he saw as the Stalinist corruption of the original socialist ideals in which he believed and continued to believe after he saw a revolution betrayed, as in Spain.

The book was the basis of an animated feature film in 1955 (Britain's first full-length animated movie), directed by John Halas[?] and Joy Bachelor[?], which softened the theme of the story slightly by adding an epilogue where the other animals successfully revolt against the pigs. There was also a 1999 live action film directed by John Stephenson. In addition, radical socialist rappers Dead Prez released a song called "Animal in Man" off their debut LP, Let's Get Free, re-telling the story.

In 2002, the American author John Reed published Snowball's Chance. This book adopts Orwell's allegory in order to conduct a parallel critique of capitalism. This decision reflects a long standing resentment among socialists at what they see as propagandistic exploitation of Orwell's novel by their political opponents.

Famous quotes:

  • "Four legs good, two legs bad"
  • "All animals are equal - but some animals are more equal than others"

The latter quote is often misinterpreted. It is the rulers of the animals who are less equal than the rest, not more.

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