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The second paragraph from Chapter 3:
Sometimes the work was hard; the implements had been designed for human beings and not for animals, and it was a great drawback that no animal was able to use any tool that involved standing on his hind legs. But the pigs were so clever that they could think of a way round every difficulty. As for the horses, they knew every inch of the field, and in fact understood the business of mowing and raking far better than Jones and his men had ever done. The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should assume the leadership. Boxer and Clover would harness themselves to the cutter or the horse-rake (no bits or reins were needed in these days, of course) and tramp steadily round and round the field with a pig walking behind and calling out "Gee up, comrade!" or "Whoa back, comrade!" as the case might be. And every animal down to the humblest worked at turning the hay and gathering it. Even the ducks and hens toiled to and fro all day in the sun, carrying tiny wisps of hay in their beaks. In the end they finished the harvest in two days' less time than it had usually taken Jones and his men. Moreover, it was the biggest harvest that the farm had ever seen. There was no wastage whatever; the hens and ducks with their sharp eyes had gathered up the very last stalk. And not an animal on the farm had stolen so much as a mouthful.
What is there to say about Animal Farm that hasn't already been said? I read it first as a teenager, back when the Soviet Union still existed; it still packs just as powerful an impact now, with the awful fate of Boxer the horse a superb emotional climax of betrayal. As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the most shocking passages are the perversion of truth and history by Squealer (we've all met people like him), where the writer's ability to convey to the reader precisely the opposite of what the words on paper ostensibly mean is on top form.

What struck me most on this reading is Orwell's deep sympathy for the ideals of equality and community. His scorn is not directed at socialism as such, but at the Soviet leaders for perverting it to their own profit, to the point where in the final confrontation between pig and man, "it was impossible to say which was which". The awful thing is that he offers no solution; the animals have been duped and betrayed, and are now worse off than they were. (Did he write any books with happy endings?)

And I wonder what happened to the cat?


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 15th, 2014 08:52 pm (UTC)
Homage To Catolonia can hardly have a happy ending, being about the Spanish Civil War and a nasty bit of internecine warfare within it, but it does have this passage in the last chapter:

"This war, in which I played so ineffectual a part, has left me with memories
that are mostly evil, and yet I do not wish that I had missed it. When you have
had a glimpse of such a disaster as this--and however it ends the Spanish war
will turn out to have been an appalling disaster, quite apart from the slaughter
and physical suffering--the result is not necessarily disillusionment and
cynicism. Curiously enough the whole experience has left me with not less but
more belief in the decency of human beings. "

It's definitely, despite the subject matter, a much more uplifting book that Animal Farm or 1984.
Mar. 15th, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC)
And the equality and community thing comes through in his descriptions of Anarchist-controlled Barcelona.
Mar. 16th, 2014 02:44 pm (UTC)
Thanks - it's actually quite high on my to-read list, and I should get to it some time in the next few weeks.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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