Animal Farm

Like many, I read a lot of classic literature in school.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby, and many, many others.  I've found there are also several great works that I missed reading in school and though some of them are not the most enjoyable books, they all seem to have some merit and I can see why they remain required reading.  George Orwell was an author that I was never assigned in school but as a science fiction fan, I was persuaded by many that I would enjoy his writing.  I read 1984 several years ago and more recently, I checked out another of his famous works.

On picking up George Orwell's Animal Farm at my local library, I thought I knew what to expect. I had previously sought out 1984, Orwell's later and perhaps better known work, and I was predicting Farm to be a similar novel of a dark dystopia. What I found instead was a thinly veiled allegory depicting the Russian revolution.

The fable is set in the English countryside on "Manor Farm" and the reader is introduced to a host of anthropomorphic residents of the farm who are incited to rebel after the prophetic dream of an old hog. The animals, under the devious leadership of a pig named Napoleon, overthrow Farmer Jones and set up their own communist society known as "Animal Farm". This point in the narrative is where Orwell's darker writing takes over, and the reader follows the journey of the farm residents from thriving in an animal-run utopia to miserable conditions under a totalitarian dictatorship.

Orwell's satire is biting, and as in 1984, his views on the ills of an overbearing government are anything but subtle. The story reads quite quickly and the ending, though easy to predict from the downward spiral of life on the farm, still packed a powerful punch. The book is not one to read just for fun, but rather as a thought provoking work of fiction. For that reason, it earns its place as a classic.
I'm still working at adding "classics" to my repertoire of reading.  I've been told by many that I NEED to read The Odyssey but for now that's a bit too daunting.  Any classics or books you read in school that you frequently recommend to others?

10 Response to "Animal Farm"

  1. what...more books says:
    May 17, 2010 at 8:16 PM

    Hi Lisa, since you became a follower of my blog, here I am folowing you.
    I also love to read classics, especially Russian authors, but I have to be in certain mood to read them. ok, i'll stop babling on and on. thnaks for joining

  2. Just Another Pre-Med says:
    May 17, 2010 at 8:41 PM

    You've probably read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre already, correct? Because I would consider those classics!

    What about Don Quixote, Sherlock Holmes, or Hamlet (which you've probably read, but if you haven't you should!!!)

    I tried reading Anna Karenina. I got to page 60 out of innumerable pages and stopped. Everyone was sad and angry, which made me sad and angry. If you feel like you'd be okay with feeling sad and angry, then read that book! Maybe it gets better after page 60.

    OOOoooooooh, side note! If youare al all into chick lit/romance, start reading this new series, The Bride Quartet, by Nora Roberts. It's, of course, predictable, but that's not what we read it for, is it? It's both hilarious and otherwise awesome! I have the first two (three when I finish this one) if you wish to borrow them!

  3. lisa :) says:
    May 17, 2010 at 8:52 PM

    So the only Russian lit I've read was The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I liked that the edition I read was well annotated so there were a lot of notes about the original language and the word-play that Bulgakov used.

    I *ADORE* Pride and Prejudice and I was actually quite entertained by Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as well. :) And...if you can keep a secret... (looking around suspiciously and lowering voice to a whisper) ...I've never read Jane Eyre. Hopefully that didn't send anyone into cardiac arrest. It's weird because I know the story and I've seen it as a play, but I've never read the actual text. It's on my TBR - I promise! But if you're a fan of it, check out a series by Jasper Fforde that starts with a book called The Eyre Affair. Super fun stuff! And I did read Hamlet (loved it!) and I read portions of Don Quixote in Spanish class and should probably read some more Sherlock Holmes!

    The Bride Quartet sounds like something I'd like so if you feel like lending them, I'd love to check them out!

  4. Jenny says:
    May 17, 2010 at 9:06 PM

    Lisa!! I have a problem set and midterm tomorrow... so of course I'm here reading your blog. :)

    But one book I ADORED in high school was The God of Small Things. Terribly depressing, but such a good story. (I have it with me here, let me know if you want to borrow it.) Another one that I ended up liking because my English teacher was CRAZY about it is Beloved, by Toni Morrison. Aside from those, (most of) anything by Gabriel Garcia-Marquez was great.

    Psst, I've never read Jane Eyre either.

  5. Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) says:
    May 18, 2010 at 6:25 AM

    You know I'm trying The Hobbit, but I have decided to wait for summer.

    To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favorite. My girlfriend and I were just talking about it yesterday!

  6. biblioholic29 says:
    May 18, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    I read Animal Farm in 9th grade (required of course) and I large part of what I remember from that was my teacher droning on and on about "double talk"!

    As to books read in high school I recommend to people, my favorite was definitely The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I saw Big River around the same time we were reading it, which I think really helped me get into the story.

  7. lisa :) says:
    May 18, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    I should have known this was going to do awful things to my TBR pile... Did y'all miss the fact that I asked what "you frequently recommend to others"? As in not to *me* because I already have waaaaaay too many books to read. Ugh. Oh well, I asked for it. ;)

    Jenny, I don't mind sad books as long as it's a cathartic cry and not a hide in the closet for a week type of sad. I haven't read any Garcia-Marquez and I'm glad to know I'm not the only non-Eyre reader, too.

    Ellen, I'm curious to hear what you think of The Hobbit. I think I like Lord of the Rings better but it's not a series I recommend to anyone who's not big into fantasy. But I do really like The Hobbit too and I'd say if you get stuck or bored with it, try reading aloud. It's been years since I read it, but it has an almost bedtime story quality, and I think it lends itself well to audio.

    Bib, Mark Twain is a long time fave. :) Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and lots of his short stories are among the stuff that I'm really glad I read in school. And of course, I love Big River too. I wish it was on stage more but now that you've mentioned it, I'm sure I'll dig out my dusty cassette tape of the soundtrack as I already have "Look out for me, ol' muddy waters..." running through my head! (And now you do too, right??)

  8. Anonymous Says:
    May 20, 2010 at 9:40 AM

    Tad, via Facebook:
    i just re-read animal farm. just didn't have the same meaning in 6th grade. and i read 1984 last year since i chose brave new world instead. should read that again now... and to kill a mockingbird, too. too bad we hate those books when we have to read them in school.

  9. Melissa says:
    June 28, 2010 at 3:06 PM

    I read this and loved it! I was thinking of re-reading it but there's so many good books and so little time! It's hard to justify a second read, but for a classic like this I may just have to do it.

  10. lisa :) says:
    June 28, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    Melissa - I have the same thoughts about re-reads! There's so many books I love that I want to revisit but at the same time there are so many new ones calling to me. So many books, so little time!

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