Review: Animal Farm

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is a classic fairy tale, and benefits from all the timelessness and iconography of the genre.  Writing about pigs and horses means he can be pretty direct about the failings of men and women without blaming particular men and women.  His story about animals that overthrow their farmer and adopt socialist dogma is a classic.

Reading Animal Farm again, I was struck by how general his writing and themes were.  In addition to using animals to stand for people, he gives each iconic rather than individualistic personalities.  Rather than a group of memorable characters, I was left with the memory of a set of archetypes, which reinforces the universality of his ideas.  Similarly, though the chronology and ideology are based on communist history and dogma, the animals’ revolution seems less about a specific doctrine than a universal story arc.  As with all fables, this gives it a moral rather than an outcome.

While this generally works in favor of the piece, there are some moments when I felt a little distant from the proceedings.  There is not really anyone to identify with or root for in the story.  It is easy to follow the plot, but hard to be drawn in.

That is a fairly minor nit to pick.  Animal Farm is an excellent fable about the failings of men in pursuit of their ideals and the attraction of power.

Strongly recommended.

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