Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Animal Farm: George Orwell, February 21-24, 2017
My rating: ♦♦♦◊◊
Orwell’s classic attack on Stalin, Animal Farm, tells of a farm which revolts, ousts the oppressive farmer and is run by the animals themselves. The pigs take on the leadership mantle and from there, things go downhill.
As an allegory, it’s faultless. The deterioration of Animal Farm under Napoleon is textbook and its message is stark. We like to complicate things in politics, but Orwell’s message is that it’s not very complicated at all. Strip away all your caveats and nuances and what happened in that barnyard is extremely straightforward.
As a story, though, it’s a mixed bag. It’s classic “tell, don’t show”, directly out of the top ten things never to do. We’re always caught up and placed in the scene after a significant development, rather than seeing the results. As a commentary, it’s effective and keeps up the pace, but as a novel it falls short. The reader is at arm’s length.
Having said that, a number of characters are given enough of a storyline that by the time their respective fates become apparent, there’s a reaction. Not as strong, perhaps, as it could have been, but definitely there.
A seminal classic, Animal Farm does the job Orwell wants it to. It’s a gift for a commentator, but run of the mill for a reader of literature.