George Orwell wrote Animal Farm from late 1943–early 1944. It was published 78 years ago, on August 17, 1945. It is one of Orwell’s most famous works and also one of his most controversial. It’s still a common book that high school students read today, and it’s full of important imagery and themes.
Orwell wrote this satirical book during WWII, basing it on the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Russian Empire was oppressive, and the people rebelled and revolted for freedom. (For more on the revolution, click here.) However, the new system they established also became oppressive, and this is the basis for Animal Farm. It took a while for the book to be published because the UK and the U.S. were allied with the Soviet Union during WWII. Publishers didn’t want to publish anything that might offend the Soviet Union, as the book served as a warning against Stalin and interacting with him. It was a huge success in England and the U.S.
Neglected, overworked animals take over Manor Farm and set out to establish an equal society. This falls apart when the two new leaders, both pigs, disagreed. One is driven away, and the other declares himself the supreme leader. When he suspects other animals sympathizing or even working with the other pig, he has them executed. If any animals complain, he tells them that this is better than when their previous farmer was in charge, and they usually stay in line after that. There are other revolts, but they are beaten each time. By the end of the book, the other animals can’t tell the pigs (all of whom are corrupt leaders) from the humans.
Animal Farm has been banned in several countries. It was banned in Russia from 1946–1991 when the Soviet Union fell. It was banned for criticizing Communist Russia and for being anti-Communist. That is also why it has also been banned in Cuba since 1945 and why the English version has been banned in China since 1945 (though the Chinese translation is censored, so people can still read it). It was censored in some other countries as well.
The book was never banned in the U.S., but some school districts tried to ban it or restrict access to it. The main reasons were political or because it was a “problem book” (showing mass revolts, Communist politics, etc.). During the Cold War, the book was used as capitalist propaganda to make U.S. citizens dislike Russia and Communism. Even now, the book still has mixed reviews in the U.S.
I think this book is still important today, and people should be allowed to choose if they read it or not. Especially with all the book bans going on in the U.S. recently.
For another article about Animal Farm, click here.