This short, powerful work is everything a political satire should be. Orwell’s prose is elegant, his wit is incisive and his message is abundantly clear. A working knowledge of the Russian Revolution and its aftermath adds an extra dimension to the work, but it’s quite comprehensible without that knowledge. The depressing reality is that the pattern Orwell describes has been repeated throughout the 20th century: an oppressed population overthrows a despotic ruler only to find itself oppressed all over again within a relatively short period of time.
In 1887 Lord Acton wrote to Bishop Mandell Creighton:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."It’s hard to imagine a better literary illustration of this maxim than Orwell’s classic tale of what happens when the animals take over the farm.
I listened to the wonderfully talented Simon Callow narrating an audiobook edition and he was, as I expected, superb. I’m very glad that I finally got around to this book, but I’m not sorry I didn’t read it as a teenager. This is very much a fairy tale for adults. Thank you to Jemidar for reading along with me.