Animal Farm
George Orwell

George Orwell

This page:
Preface by Russell Baker
Introduction by C. M. Woodhouse
Animal Farm




index pages:

Preface to Animal Farm

by Russell Baker

Copyright © 1996 Russell Baker

He was that political figure all politicians fear: the moralist who cannot bear to let any wrong deed go undenounced. As a politician he had the fatal defect of the totally honest man: He insisted on the truth even when the truth was most inconvenient.

There is an aloneness about Orwell, an insistence on being his own man, on not playing along with the team as the loyal politician is so often expected to do, or else.




text checked (see note) Mar 2009

top of page
Introduction to Animal Farm

C. M. Woodhouse
The Times Literary Supplement
London, August 6, 1954

The fairy-story that succeeds is in fact not a work of fiction at all; or at least no more so than, say, the opening chapters of Genesis. It is a transcription of a view of life into terms of highly simplified symbols, and when it succeeds in its literary purpose, it leaves us with a deep indefinable feeling of truth; and if succeeds also, as Orwell set out to do, in a political as well as an artistic purpose, it leaves us also with a feeling of rebelliousness against the truth revealed. It does so not by adjuring us to rebel, but by the barest economy of plain description that language can achieve; and lest it should be thought guilty of a deliberate appeal to the emotions, it uses for characters not rounded, three-dimensional human beings that develop psychologically though time, but fixed stereotypes, puppets, silhouettes—or animals. [...] In these respects Animal Farm is after all correctly labelled a fairy-story. Its message (which is by no means a moral) is that of all the great fairy-stories: “Life is like that—take it or leave it.”



text checked (see note) Mar 2009

top of page
Animal Farm
A Fairy Story

Copyright © 1946 by Harcourt Brace & Company

III “Our sole object in taking these things is to preserve our health. Milk and apples (this has been proved by Science, comrades) contain substances absolutely necessary to the well-being of a pig. We pigs are brainworkers. The whole management and organisation of this farm depend on us. Day and night we are watching over your welfare. It is for your sake that we drink that milk and eat those apples.”



V “Comrades,” he said, “I trust that every animal here appreciates the sacrifice that Comrade Napoleon has made in taking this extra labour upon himself. Do not imagine, comrades, that leadership is a pleasure! On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?”



VII If she could have spoken her thoughts, it would have been to say that this was not what they had aimed at when they had set themselves years ago to work for the overthrow of the human race. These scenes of terror and slaughter were not what they had looked forward to on that night when old Major first stirred them to rebellion. If she herself had had any picture of the future, it had been of a society of animals set free from hunger and the whip, all equal, each working according to his capacity, the strong protecting the weak [...] Whatever happened she would remain faithful, work hard, carry out the orders that were given to her, and accept the leadership of Napoleon. But still, it was not for this that she and all the other animals had hoped and toiled.
VIII The animals now also learned that Snowball had never—as many of them had believed hitherto—received the order of “Animal Hero, First Class.” This was merely a legend which had been spread some time after the Battle of the Cowshed by Snowball himself. So far from being decorated, he had been censured for showing cowardice in the battle. Once again some of the animals heard this with a certain bewilderment, but Squealer was soon able to convince them that their memories had been at fault.



IX Once again all rations were reduced, except those of the pigs and dogs. A too rigid equality in rations, Squealer explained, would have been contrary to the principles of Animalism. In any case he had no difficulty in proving to the other animals that they were not in reality short of food, whatever the appearances might be.



X There was, as Squealer was never tired of explaining, endless work in the supervision and organisation of the farm. Much of this work was of a kind that the other animals were too ignorant to understand. For example, 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. This was of highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said. But still, neither pigs nor dogs produced any food by their own labour; and there were very many of them, and their appetites were always good.



Only old Benjamin professed to remember every detail of his long life and to know that things never had been, nor ever could be much better or much worse—hunger, hardship, and disappointment being, so he said, the unalterable law of life.

And yet the animals never gave up hope.



There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:


text checked (see note) Mar 2009

top of page