This review is written with the intention of keeping it absolutely spoiler-free and hence, I have avoided names, characters and absolutely anything at all about what is part of the story. I believe, it’s best if you start the book knowing nothing about the plot or the basis of the story – at least, that’s how I like to read books. This is because I feel the best introduction of the story and the characters for any book is when the author himself brings them to life.
Coming to the matter at hand, Animal Farm turns out to be the best satire I have ever read, and I include newspaper articles which are known for their metaphorical wit. The greatness of the book, I believe, is in the depth of the story, the true-to-meaning symbolism and the effort of the author (George Orwell) to create the characters that fit so beautifully into the stereotypical pawns, citizens and rulers in a political system. The story does a great (this adjective is an understatement) job of mimicking the Russian Revolution, not only in following the basic plot, but also marking its important events as well as bringing out the characters who were responsible for and active in the revolution – Marx, Stalin, Trotsky to name a few.
The simplicity of the plot and the language, however in no way reflects that the writer had an easy job completing this marvellous piece of literature. The whole book is a metaphor on a revolution and the subsequent political scenario – a perfect political allegory. However, the whole book is built up of innumerable (not literally of course) sub-metaphors that stand clearly for symbols of the political system, mocking them so subtly, not in words, but the way they creep into your thoughts. The number of times I could relate the happenings in the book to political happenings I have heard about in newspapers was so great, that the relevance of the book is undoubtedly apt even for today, and I’m sure it’d stay for centuries to come. The human mind is after all a slave when it comes to power.
The entire story is written in such lucid language, that at times, I felt the book was purposefully made simple, to ensure that the complexity of language or the literature does not act as an obstacle to the intention of the writer – that is, to let his message seep right into the minds of the readers.
Frankly, I like to rate the books I read in terms of how many times I have uttered the f-word per page, and let me assure you, this book stands high on that scale. I have no doubt that the thoughts this book bore in my mind will keep pulsing for a very long time. I’ll keep coming back to the book as a recourse to whenever I fall into the trap of believing in the absolute power of ideologies and lose the sense of reality.
Thank you very much, Eric Arthur Blair, or as you liked to be called, George Orwell.