Why you read Animal Farm in high school

Orwell agreed to grant publication rights for free (he did this for subsequent editions in several other eastern European languages). It is affecting to imagine battle-hardened ex-soldiers and prisoners of war, having survived all the privations of the eastern front, becoming stirred by the image of British farm animals singing their own version of the discarded “Internationale”, but this was an early instance of the hold the book was to take on its readership. The emotions of the American military authorities in Europe were not so easily touched: they rounded up all the copies of Animal Farm that they could find and turned them over to the Red Army to be burnt. The alliance between the farmers and the pigs, so hauntingly described in the final pages of the novel, was still in force.

Probably the best-known sentence from the novel is the negation by the pigs of the original slogan that “All Animals Are Equal” by the addition of the afterthought that “Some Animals Are More Equal than Others”. As communism in Russia and eastern Europe took on more and more of the appearance of a “new class” system, with grotesque privileges for the ruling elite and a grinding mediocrity of existence for the majority, the moral effect of Orwell’s work – so simple to understand and to translate, precisely as he had hoped – became one of the many unquantifiable forces that eroded communism both as a system and as an ideology.

Christopher Hitchens re-reads Animal Farm

I never knew the book had a great deal of trouble being published.

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