Format: Audio (via BorrowBox)
Read: October 2023
I never read Animal Farm at school, or even at University, and I actually feel glad to have left it until I was older and have a bit more experience of The Real World, and knowledge of history. In truth, the only reason I have read it now is because I found an audiobook read by Stephen Fry through my library! After Troy, I’ve learned that Stephen can make what might be otherwise rather dry material be much more entertaining.
Animal Farm is such a classic that I suspect everyone knows that it is an allegorical political satire set on a farm of anthropomorphic animals. It was actually much ore simply, and accessible told than I was expecting it to be – and of course Stephen injects a lot of life and character.
I don’t think you need to know too much about the Soviet Union to be able to spot the very thinly veiled parallels in the plot and characters, as the animals go from revolution winning the farm, and freedom, from the human Mr Jones, to ending up no better off (arguably worse off) under the rule of Napoleon and his pigs, who become indistinguishable from humans by the end.
It is very effective as an allegory, and I certainly can see how its stood the test of time. It’s a novella so fairly short and the story does move quickly. I think it was worth finally reading, but my lord it was depressing! I just felt so horrible for the animals – especially Boxer – and things get worse to better. Knowing that the tactics and events have happened throughout human history (and versions of continue to) its very disheartening.
The second half of this audiobook collection is 1984, which really an expansion on the same themes… I just hope Stephen Fry can liven it up a bit for me!