Hot diggity dog and other socialist animals, it took me a very long time to get around to reading this very short book. And I call myself an Orwell fan!
What more is there to say, other than “This man is a genius.” He really is. He is the master of the extended metaphor, the putting into words of what everyone else is thinking, the clever backhanded insult, the impeccably-timed social commentary. I hope one day to attain his observation skills and his ability to transform them into writing. Baby steps.
I’m not going to say much about this book, (a) because it’s so old and so famous that you probably already know what happens and (b) because if you don’t know what happens, you can read it really quickly and then you’ll know. That’s how reading works. Instead, I just want to share a few of my favorite excerpts, because they deserve to be memorialized as many times as possible.
p. 90 // “It had become usual to give Napoleon the credit for every successful achievement and every stroke of good fortune. You would often hear one hen remark to another, “Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days;” or two cows, enjoying a drink at the pool, would exclaim, “Thanks to the leadership of Comrade Napoleon, how excellent this water tastes!”
p. 105 // For the time being, certainly, it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations (Squealer always spoke of it as a “readjustment,” never as a “reduction”).
p. 119 // Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called “files,” “reports,” “minutes,” and “memoranda.” These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace.”
To say that this man has a grasp on satire would be an understatement. He so wittily describes the double standard between corrupt government and its citizens that he actually makes the experience of reading about a deteriorating society a genuinely enjoyable one. That is a special feat, especially now that we’re all a little bit jaded. But sometimes it’s nice to poke fun at life’s little contradictions and double standards. And George Orwell did it with animals on a farm.