Animal Farm Published
Although the term is more connected with George Orwell’s later novel 1984, thus anachronistic if applied to Animal Farm, there is something very Orwellian about the publishing history of that latter novel.
George Orwell , though educated at Wellington and Eton (albeit as a scholarship boy), became a committed democratic socialist. He saw active duty in the Spanish Civil War, where he witnessed the obsession of Stalin’s USSR with destroying alternative socialist organisations even if that succoured fascism.
During WWII Eric Blair – his real name – conceived the idea for a satire about the corrupted reality of Soviet communism, which he wrote in a basement flat in Kilburn while also contributing to the BBC , Tribune, The Observer and other publications, and serving with the Home Guard . The completed Animal Farm was ready by April 1944, but his usual publishers and various others turned the book down for fear of offending Britain’s by then vital ally Stalin. One publisher which had agreed to issue the book was allegedly dissuaded by a civil servant later revealed as a Russian agent. The tale eventually saw the light of day on August 17 1945, published by Secker and Warburg in London.
We laugh at the absurdities of Napoleon and his fellow pigs, and at the blind loyalty of Boxer the horse; but we see through their lives the thinly disguised Russian Revolution and communist regime which descended into terror and moral bankruptcy. It is thought provoking still today as we witness politicians of every party redefine themselves according to circumstance and ambition rather than belief. During the 2008-2009 MPs’ expenses scandal the best-known phrase from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others,” appeared frequently in journalism.
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