I re-read Animal Farm this week. Trent (takingbackrufio), I know you have to have read this one. For those who haven't read or heard of it, pick it up on the double. It's a very short read, easy to follow, and can be quite shocking. The animals of Manor Farm dislike being the slaves of man, so they overthrow their owner Mr. Jones, and begin to govern themselves. They base themselves on the grounds of equality for all, but as it's soon revealed, equality is a sliding slope. George Orwell was strictly against Soviet totalitarianism, and the animals' system of government clearly reflects this. Like Orwell's other work 1984, this tale of fantasy bears too much resemblance to contemporary society for comfort. After all, how many times in recent memory have politicians been heard squealing the importance of a more powerful government due to the "constant threat" of terrorism?
"'Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink the milk and eat those apples. Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Sure, comrades,' cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, 'surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back?'"
"[Animal Farm] probably has a good chance as any contemporary work of winning its author a place--unacknowledged of course--among Shelley's [poetic] legislators or the world. And even if the chance does not come off, Orwell has, anyway, two strings in his bow: he is the author of 1984 as well as Animal Farm. If the worst comes to worst and he fails as a legislator he is then virtually certain of immortality as a prophet."
-C. M. Woodhouse The Times Literary Supplement,
London, August 6, 1954