After taking a month to finish number forty-six, I finished number forty-seven in just under twenty-four hours, having wrapped up Animal Farm by George Orwell on Friday while in Hawai'i. But it wasn't the quickest book I've read so far, as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe only took four hours to read, but it was the shortest book so far, by quite a bit too, at only 92 pages.
What can I say about Animal Farm that hasn't already been said? Simply put, it's brilliant. Brilliant writing, brilliant satire. Taking its cues from the Russian Revolution, Animal Farm is the story of a revolution at a farm, where animals take over from humans. With humans gone, they figure there will no longer be any tyranny or exploitation of the animals for profit. Animals will only work for other animals. There will be less work, but more production, as everybody will now be equal and everybody will be working toward a goal for the common good. Of course it never works out as planned, and before too long the all too human trait of greed sets in.
Every metaphor works so well in this book, and the satire is so accurate to reality. Even almost 70 years after it was written, we know exactly who every character represents and are familiar with most of the parallels to the Soviet Union. There's Napoleon's Stalin, Snowbell's Trotsky, the NKVD in the form of vicious guard dogs, the re-writing of history, and the population that lacks everything, despite continual stories of increased production.
Every scene mirrors the growth of the Soviet Union's totalitarian regime, and it's impossible not to laugh out loud at the absurdity of it all; especially since we know this really did happen. The thirst for power that engulfs the animals at the farm is all too human, and eventually one cannot distinguish between the two. Much like the former Soviet Union, 'all animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.'
While reading the book, I kept having feelings of regret, for not having previously read it. I've read Nineteen Eighty-Four more times than any other book, and for the life of me, cannot figure out why I never read this classic. It's a perfect novel for me, combining satire and politics, with Orwell's brilliant writing. While I have yet to rank the books I've read so far, if I did, this would be at or near the top.
My next read, a book I've twice borrowed from the library and returned without reading, will be The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski.