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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four legs good two legs bad
Understated masterpiece from a very English writer, George Orwell's satire on the hypocrisy of communism is truly a timeless classic. This is an overused phrase, but with its allegorical nature and simple style, this is novella that is accessible to readers of any level, not just the GCSE students for whom it has been an exam text for as long as I can remember...
Published on 18 Jun. 2009 by Captain Pugwash

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3.0 out of 5 stars An allegory for socialism
I'm not a great lover of fairy stories, so it didn't surprise me that I wasn't bowled over by this classic. However, I can see how it became such a hit, as it's extremely clever in its subtleties.
I did admire the allegory of the animals who represented various characters from the Russian revolution, the rise of power of the pigs and the unquestioning, tireless...
Published 3 months ago by DubaiReader


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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Four legs good two legs bad, 18 Jun. 2009
Understated masterpiece from a very English writer, George Orwell's satire on the hypocrisy of communism is truly a timeless classic. This is an overused phrase, but with its allegorical nature and simple style, this is novella that is accessible to readers of any level, not just the GCSE students for whom it has been an exam text for as long as I can remember.

Both tragic and at times comic, Animal Farm isn't subtle, but it uses a classic English rural set up, recognizable to any child, to paint a picture of a society that starts out with good intentions but which eventually lapses into degeneracy and inequality. Not quite as topical today as when it was written, the story still resonates and could be applied to societies from West Africa to Central Europe. As a warning against the follies of complacency and the dangers of corruption, it could even be held up to today's British politicians, themselves in danger of drowning in their own excesses and greed.
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98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant piece of bitter political satire., 12 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Since its publication in 1946 Animal Farm has been hailed as one of the most influential pieces of fictional political writing in the twentieth century, an accolade that the novel thoroughly deserves. The first time I read it was as an A Level student studying the Russian Revolution. I was amazed at how simply but effectively Orwell delivered such a powerful message. In a career spanning many brilliant works, including Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Road To Wigan Pier and Coming Up For Air, this is quite simply one of his best. The book centres around the themes of revolution and how communist ideals of justice and equality give way to totalitarianism. Using a farm and its inhabitants to represent the places and main characters of the time, it tells the story of the Russian Bolshevik revolution. Orwell explores the evils of power, money, propaganda and terror to bring us a shocking tale of greed and tyranny.
The story revolves around a group of mistreated farm animals who fight for control of their home. The farm's prize pig, Old Major, insights revolution when he tells all the animals of a dream he had about how "the Earth will be when Man has vanished." The animals confront their exploitative human owners and force them out of Manor Farm. They then set up their own society renaming it "Animal Farm". A new set of laws they are to abide by is then decided on and these are written as seven commandments, the most important being that "all animals are equal." Unfortunately this commandment is the first to go when Old Major dies and the intelligent Pigs take over. The new leaders succumb to the temptations that power provides and become dictators of the farm. What ensues is a vivid description of how power corrupts and leaves the animals in no better a position then when they were under the rule of the humans.
Orwell paints a masterfully bleak picture of Soviet Communism and the fat cats (or pigs in this case) of the twentieth century. One amazing thing about the novel is that we can easily relate things that happen in Animal Farm to events that have occurred since the book was published. The air of prophecy in Orwell's writing is eerily apparent. This however, is by no means the story's only plus. As well as the stark political message we also get a completely engrossing story. The satire is compelling but at the same time it is quite easy to feel compassion for some of the characters in Animal Farm. The vast majority of people who have read the book cannot help but feel sympathy and respect for Boxer the work-hoarse as he strives to do the best he can for his fellow citizens. Boxer is not used in Orwell's novel to represent a single person, but to represent a group of people, in this case the tireless workers caught in a totalitarian regime. The animals in the book and their main characteristics are often used in this way. For example the growling dogs are used to represent some sort of secret police that would terrorise the people. Orwell has said that he often wrote because there was some lie or injustice he wanted to expose. This is the main reason he used the literary technique of allegory in Animal Farm. It works because it allows Orwell to bring our attention to those events during the Russian revolution that concerned him the most. His feelings on Stalin's cruel regime are not hidden, suggested, or argued about, they are there for all to see. Orwell is quoted as saying that he had tried to write "less picturesquely and more exactly" and this is precisely the case. He uses a distinctively straightforward and simple style to create a very linear tale. This makes everything seem almost light, but at the same time it is effective and powerful. The end result of Orwell's prose style is a brilliant piece of bitter political satire, crossed with remarkably accurate historical allegory, that still manages to remain serious and deliver a telling reminder of how revolution went wrong. There is no wonder this novel is considered world wide to be a real classic of the twentieth century. True appreciation of the book does come with an understanding of the Russian revolution but those without can still interpret its message, which continues to be relevant to this day. I cannot recommend this book enough, I thoroughly enjoyed every page.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read and enjoy, 13 Feb. 2000
Since reading 1984, I have come to think of Animal Farm as a more condensed and slightly humourous version of Orwell's other novel. If considered carefully both stories deliver a message of fear of what may be. If people read these books and realised the dangers that could lie ahead in any country, no doubt we would end up in a paranoid society. However, Animal Farm is such a compelling and interesting book it should be read by everyone.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fable/childrens story about betrayal, 21 April 2009
By 
Lark (North Coast of Ireland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Animal Farm (Paperback)
This is a fable or childrens story conceived by George Orwell when he saw a small boy driving a large horse along a road, Orwell felt that if the horse could only comprehend that it was more powerful than the boy it would do its own thing instead of his bidding.

On Animal Farm is the story of how different farm yard animals unite following an enlightenment about their fate and oppression. The animals agree to an egalitarian and "share and share alike" constitution by which to govern their new arrangements while defending themselves from the expelled farmer's attempts to re-establish the old ways of doing business.

The constitution is inscribed for all to see with "All Animals Are Equal" leading the list, slowly as the farm yards pigs rise to assume the position of leaders they abandon each of these value statements, radically revising them to justify a return to the old ways of doing business which characterised the original farmer who they threw out.

Like his other books Orwell was disappointed in his own lifetime with how the books where received and interpreted, of Animal Farm which he described as a "simple fable" Orwell stated if its simple message about betrayal where not understood then the book had been a failure.

This is an important point because Orwell had dedicated his energies to making political writing an art form (consider Penguin Great Ideas : Why I Write). In his time, and since, Animal Farm has been seen as a devastating criticism of egalitarianism, flawed values and even of the very hopes and optimism which give rise to change of government, particularly by revolution, like a cynical or conservative text book.

Orwell intended it to be much more straight forward, he supported the values which where at the heart of the Animals constitution, including that core commitment to equality, and considered the crucial moment in the storyline to have been consistently overlooked (that is the moment at which the Pigs decide no longer to share the harvest of apples, which the other animals do not suspect is the beginings of betrayal).

The story is a heart felt tale, populated by all sorts of characters who Orwell uses to characterise a range of human traits from nobility to the down right villainous, with a good pace and easily understood style of writing, it should appeal to adults or children alike. Likewise it should appeal to either the political/literary reader and general reader alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a small boy on a cart-horse, 16 Dec. 2005
By 
RG "Robsguzzis" (North West England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Animal Farm (play) (Paperback)
George Orwell states in the afterword that he was inspired to write the novel (fairytale or whatever. . ) when he saw a small boy navigating a large cart horse through an old English village. And that's a very good analagy.
I read Animal Farm for O level many years ago, but more recently whilst on Holiday in Kenya and witnessing proper inequalities in wealth - maybe not dissimilar to early twentieth century Russia? - I thought I could imagine it well.
Animal Farm is superbly written. You could read it cover to cover in a single sitting, but that would be a shame. The characters fit superbly, and are very funny. Especially Benjamin the donkey who keeps saying "donkeys live a long time", superbly cynical - and so right.
Superb
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read!, 15 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I wanted to read this book because when I was at school I'm pretty sure my English class was the only group that didn't study it, and I always felt a little left out! I felt I was missing out on something not only great, but also something that everyone would understand references to.. but me!

Going into this story, I knew the gist of it, and after reading the first chapter, I know it was going to be a quick read. I know why they read it in year 8 - it is such a simple political allegory to follow! However, the simplicity of the text is not to be criticized, because it actually highlights Orwell's genius! To be able to so concisely write about revolution (with particular reference to the Soviet revolution) and yet make it comprehensible to people of varying reading age/ability, backgrounds, and education is remarkable. This is a story with a point - a warning - about particular aspects of revolution, totalitarianism and fascism, and yet both a 10 year old and a 60 year old can get message through the same enjoyment. Like the book or not, it should be recognized for that great feat at least.

I did enjoy it, a lot. The accompanying appendixes were also interesting - an insight into what Orwell thought about the censorship of his novella at the early stages of publication, and about literary censorship in general - as well as an interesting personal foreword that Orwell wrote for editions for displaced Ukrainians living in camps in Germany.

The introduction by Malcolm Bradbury and the Notes on a Text by Peter Davison were both interesting insights to the reception of the novel, as well as some of the author's thoughts and commentary about the text. Well worth a read, though I chose to read it afterwards because there were a couple of spoilers.

Overall, really good, and I will certainly read more Orwell in the future. It turns out I really did miss out all those years ago!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full Circle at Manor Farm..., 15 Jun. 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I first read "Animal Farm" over 45 years ago. My "Signet Classic" copy has an introduction by C.M. Woodhouse, which was published in the "The Times Literary Supplement." One of his points was that two events occurred in August, 1945, and the target of both was the Soviet Union. One was the dropping of the A-bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which effectively ended the Second World War, but also, as Woodhouse implies, was a warning from the United States to its ally in that war. The other event was the publication of this book, which was a scathing, thinly veiled denunciation of the betrayal of the original principals of the Russian revolution by its leaders. George Orwell had experienced other betrayals as well, having fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, and bore witness to the failure of the Western democracies to support that side. His account, Homage to Catalonia (Penguin Modern Classics) is highly recommended.

Having just re-read the book, I've concluded that it has definitely withstood the "test of time," and remains as relevant today, even though the Soviet Union no longer exists. Orwell's tale is an allegorical one; his prose is lean and to the point. In the best spirit of the "inmates taking over the asylum," Orwell has the animals on "Manor Farm" seizing power, and driving off its human owner, a Mr. Jones. The one animal that was most directly allied with Mr. Jones is a black raven, a clever talker, who would convey tales of "Sugarcandy Mountain," way up there is the sky, where all the animal's dreams would come true. Priests anyone? In the immediate aftermath of the "revolution," new principles are proclaimed. The most important one is that "All animals are equal." Not having to support parasitic humans, the animals will now be free to enjoy the fruits of their own labor. The work days will be shortened; retirement benefits proclaimed. Hum! And yes, within a few pages, the initial problems commence. What happened to the extra milk?

Orwell unfolds his tale brilliantly. Step by step, a new hierarchy emerges, with the cleverest of animals, the pigs, in charge. There is a conflict between the two cleverest pigs, once closely allied, Snowball and Napoleon. Snowball loses, and step by step, becomes the personification of all evil. Themes that Orwell developed in 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics) are present. He that controls the past controls the future, so it is no surprise to see the past constantly rewritten in order to justify current actions. Orwell depicts many an administration "spokesperson" in slimy "Squealer," a cheerleader, rationalizer and literally re-writer, adding key qualifying phrases to the original Seven commandments. Napoleon transforms into the indispensible, aloof leader, who needs much praise, and, of course, lots of "perks" as compensation for his heavy duties.

The narrow reading of this allegory is that it is solely about totalitarianism. The broader reading concerns the power relationships which evolve when any three humans gather together. In particular, I have to think about how the "power elites" almost lost it in the 2008 financial meltdown, but with only a stumble or two, have re-establish the need for their "perks," and, in the main, most people still go along with it. As in Animal Farm, Napoleon, (i.e., the power elites) constantly uses external "threats," in particular, from the evil Snowball to maintain control. Alliances of convenience have to be made with former enemies. The focus remains on self-aggrandizement; the hedge fund managers need their incentives in order to work hard; the rest, like the ever faithful horse, Boxer, need only exhortations.

At the beginning, it was called "Manor Farm"; after the "revolution" it became "Animal Farm"; and sure `nuf, at the end, it reverts to its original name. It remains an astonishingly true tale for our times, and should be read in all our schools. Of course, nothing might actually change, but it is a telling and sardonic portrait of the human condition. 5-stars plus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some books are more equal than others, 16 April 2012
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Animal Farm (Paperback)
Animal Farm was written by George Orwell over the winter of 1943-44. It is a satirical fable that uses the story of animals rebelling on a farm to tell a version of the Russian Revolution and the rise of Joseph Stalin. Most of the major characters are loosely based on real life people. Major, the boar who dreams of a farm run by animals, is inspired by Lenin. After his death, Snowball (based on Trotsky) and Napoleon (based on Stalin) take over command of the animals and lead a rebellion against the farmer. The animals are collectively in charge of the farm in a form of communism (referred to as "Animalism"). Eventually Napoleon plots to oust Snowball, and then gradually erodes the rights of the animals to assume a position of dictatorship, paying only the merest of lip service to the origin tenets of the rebellion.

This is a very short novel (the version I read had fewer than 100 pages although this varies in different editions depending on the typeface), which takes only a couple of hours to read. It skips along in a highly readable fashion and is amusing in parts, but at the same time it's also moving and thought provoking. If you are familiar with the basics of Russian history you will probably enjoy it more, but this is by no means mandatory. It's well worthwhile taking the time to read this deserved classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Animal Farm: George Orwell - Donkeys live a long time..., 12 April 2013
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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As most people will know (it was drilled into me as a schoolchild by a very pompous English teacher who seemed very full of his own cleverness and put me off reading the book again for nearly 20 years) Animal Farm is George Orwell's classic satire of the communist system in Russia, reimagining the October revolution, the overthrow of the Tsarist regime and the rise of the despotic and tyrannical Stalinist regime as the struggle of farm animals for independence from their human masters. He shows how, by subtle and plausible steps, the revolution becomes corrupt as the leaders forget about the common good and concentrate more upon their own need for luxury and power. And how this leads to more work and less pay for the masses, followed by purges of dissenters, a feeling of paranoia, and finally the ultimate betrayal of the people whom the revolution was designed to help. Setting it in a farmyard and with animals manages to add more power to the story, the thought of animals being betrayed and slaughtered somehow more abhorrent to the sensibilities than the real stories of humans suffering the same fate in Russia. It's a bitter and biting satire, and one that has real power right up to the final pages where the story comes full circle. 5 stars.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Animal Farm - George Orwell, 11 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
The first of Orwell's great cries of despair was Animal farm, often heralded as his lightest, gayest work. Though it resembles the Russian revolution and the rise of Stalin, it is more meaningfully an anatomy of all political revolutions, where the revolutionary ideals of justice, equality, and fraternity shatter in the event. Animal farm is basically is a science fiction story based on the Russian Revolution, put neatly into a book, where instead of humans, the animals are the main characters. Animal Farm is also a story about how power can overcome people who do not know how to use it correctly and from that consequently comes a revolution.
One night when Farmer Jones has gone to bed drunk, all the animals of Manor Farm assemble in the barn for a meeting. Old Major, the prize pig, tells them in clear, colourful language "the nature of life" as he has come to understand it. Animals toil, suffer, get barely enough to eat and when they are no longer useful, they are slaughtered. Animals are enslaved by man. There is only one solution; man must be removed and animals must be perfectly united for their common goal. Old Major sums up "All animals are friends, Man is the enemy." Animals must avoid man's habits. "Above all, we are brothers. No animals must ever kill any other animal. All animals are equal." The work of teaching and organizing the animals for the Rebellion falls on the pigs, thought to be the cleverest animals. One evening, when Farmer Jones has forgotten to feed them for over a day, the animals break into the store-shed and begin helping themselves. Jones and his men charge in, but the animals fling themselves on their tormentors. The surprised and frightened men are driven from the farm. Unexpectedly the Rebellion has been accomplished, Jones has been expelled and what was once Manor Farm is now Animal Farm, and belongs to the animals.
Yet with the revolution secured, there are graver dangers than the threat of invasion and counter-revolution. The ultimate corruption of the revolution is immediately imminent. The mistreated animals that end up overthrowing their human master and driving him out, consequently see the pigs take over rule, becoming greedy and cruel, mistreating their fellow animals. The description of the inevitable and immediate violence foreshadows the fate of the rebellion; reactionary cruelty, the search for the scapegoat, and the perversion of the ideals of the revolution. Orwell concerns himself with the misrepresentation, the falsification, and the distortion of fact that leads unfortunately to disaster and misery. It's the story of a revolution gone sour. Animalism, Communism and Fascism are all illusions that are used by the pigs as a means of satisfying their greed and lust for power.
It is not merely that revolutions are self-destructive. Orwell also paints a grim picture of the human condition in the political twentieth century, what he sees as an end to the very concept of human freedom. All the representatives of the various ideologies are indistinguishable. Communism is no better or worse than Capitalism or Fascism; the ideals of socialism were long ago lost. Everyone, the good and the bad, the deserving and the wicked, are not only contributors to the tyranny, are not only powerless before it, but are unable to understand it. The inhabitants of this world seem to deserve their fate. Animal Farm is a story about rulers and the ruled, oppressors and the oppressed, and an ideal betrayed. The particular meaning you give it will depend partly on your own political beliefs. The book is there to be enjoyed, to enrich, and perhaps change our thinking and feeling about how human beings can best live together in this world.
Animal Farm is easily one of the best pieces of political allegory ever written. The animals take over the running of the farm, and everything is wonderful for a while, until the pigs get out of hand. It is a brilliant description of what happens when revolution goes astray. Allegory is hard to do gracefully, but Orwell manages it superbly. While true appreciation of Animal farm requires an understanding of the history of the Russian Revolution, those without it will still get the point. Animal Farm also, owed largely to its relentless simplicity, can even be appreciated as a story by children, with no understanding of the political message at all.
Buy it, read it, enjoy it!
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Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (Penguin Modern Classics)
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (Penguin Modern Classics) by George Orwell (Paperback - 24 Feb. 2000)
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