On 21st January 1950, George Orwell died in London. To commemorate the life and works of one of our greatest authors, today has been dubbed the inaugural ‘Orwell Day‘. Though I don’t normally care much for this trend we seem to have adopted to label ‘days’, this does give me a good opportunity to say a few words on one of my favourite books, Animal Farm.
Strangely enough, I’ve just finished re-reading Animal Farm. I don’t tend to re-read books too often as I prefer to spend my time reading new books, but my course demands I re-read 1984, so I thought why not re-read Animal Farm as well! I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. The writing still feels as fresh today as it did the first time I read it, and though the book was published in 1945, some of the issues it raises are still just as relevant today. Ok, so Stalin is dead, the Cold War has come and gone, and (supposedly) Soviet Russia is no more. Though it’s quite clear to the astute reader that much of Animal Farm is designed to poor scorn on Stalin and his totalitarian regime, the wider points the book makes about power and human nature still strike a chord.
At only around 100 pages, in my view, Animal Farm should be made compulsory reading for everyone. Even if the only thing you take away from the book is a sense of sadness at poor Boxer’s demise, and horror at how the revolution falls apart, that in my mind is enough. Animal Farm isn’t a book about animals. It’s not even a book about revolution – not really. At its heart its about the corruption of power, and the inherent selfishness of ‘pig’ (read: human) nature. Indeed, the last chapter is particularly striking, and though I don’t want to give it away, the last line is one of the best I’ve read.
I really can’t emphasis enough just how important this book is. If there’s one thing you do this year, read Animal Farm. It’s a book that will stay with you for the rest of your life.