George orwell Paper

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george orwell



Animal Farm was written between November 1943 and February 1944, but was not published
until August 1945, principally as a result of political objections that arose over the
book's attack on Stalin and the Soviet Union. It was turned down by a number of publishers
in England (including T.S. Eliot at Faber and Faber) and America. One American publisher
rejected it because, he said, Americans were not in the mood for animal stories. Orwell,
fearing implicit censorship and convinced of the urgency of his message, considered
publishing it himself as a two-shilling pamphlet. Finally, Secker and Warburg agreed to
publish it, but it was still held for publication until the end of the war, ostensibly
because of lack of paper, but more likely because it was still deemed imprudent to publish
something attacking the Soviet Union when it was a valuable ally of the West. When the
novel was finally published the magnitude of its success surprised Orwell as much as
anyone. The first edition sold out the first month, and by the spring of 1946 it was being
translated into nine languages. After the Book-of-the-Month Club in America chose it as a
selection, it sold more than a half-million copies, relieving him from financial worries
for the first time in his life.


The specific political purpose that had aroused Orwell's sense of urgency was his desire
to explode the myth of the Soviet Union as the paradigm of the socialist state. He also
wanted to expose the dangers of totalitarianism, which he saw reflected in the politics of
expedience, the devaluation of objective truth, and the systematic manipulation of the
common people through propaganda. This fable about the animals who overthrow their human
oppressors only to be oppressed once again by those animals who were once their comrades
has been used to support various ideological points of view. However, while Orwell clearly
indicts the betrayal of the revolution that occurs on Marsh Farm, there is no indication
that the revolution itself is being satirized. When Old Major, the political visionary who
represents Marx, describes the plight of the animals—their lack of freedom, their misery,
their powerlessness—in his declaration of the principles of Animalism, it is clear that he
is describing allegorically the relationship between the working class and the rich,
landowning upper class of any society. The revolution that occurs spontaneously (it is
significant that it is not activated by the conspiracy of a privileged few) establishes an
idyllic, primitive community that is reminiscent of Orwell's depiction of Barcelona in
December 1936. While the revolution itself is entirely affirmed, the major question is why
it fails, why it proves to be only temporary.


Orwell's identification of what exactly goes wrong on the Animal Farm is more complex than
many readers give him credit for; he suggests several causes: the perverse drive for power
among those who already posses it, the lack of intelligence and memory among the lower
animals (which makes them powerless against the autocracy of the pigs), and, perhaps most
important, the idea that to alter merely the shape of a society is insufficient as a
revolutionary goal. The pigs clearly represent a savage critique of an intellectual, elite
class. Because they organize and supervise the operations of the farm, they establish
themselves as an isolated, privileged class; as a result, Orwell suggests, they are
displaced from the renewing work of the farm, from the communal life of the other animals,
and from the tempering moral sources of their origin. Thus isolated from the sources of
their cultural and moral strength, they become as deracinated and self-serving as Orwell
believed many British left-wing intellectuals had become.


But Orwell also dramatically emphasizes that the animals' lack of a cultural heritage
(seen in their lack of memory and in their illiteracy, which deprives them of a conscious
past) renders them powerless against the totalitarian oppression of the pigs. Their lack
of a verifiable history and of a historical consciousness (what Orwell was trying to
awaken in common-culture Englishmen in Coming Up for Air and in The Lion and the Unicorn)
makes them easily subject to the manipulative uses of language and power. As they
repeatedly witness the falsification of history and the rewriting of the seven
commandments of Animalism, their disquiet is appeased only when they are convinced that
"their memories had been at fault." Thus, the decay of the revolution stems not simply
from the consolidation of power by the pigs but also from the animals' lack of a conscious
moral-cultural tradition, for they have no heritage of justice and equality to fall back
on. Without the agency of memory, which could preserve the ideals of the revolution and
enable them to shape the future of their own society, the prerevolutionary shape of the
farm is gradually restored, although under a different leadership.


In 1947 Orwell said that Animal Farm was "the first book in which I tried, with full
consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one
whole." His fable is a remarkably effective integration of a political message within a
unified fictional narrative, and it is significantly a radical departure in form from his
documentaries and fiction of the 1930s. The use of the fable, the simplicity of style, and
the notable absence of a narrative or authorial voice provide Animal Farm with the
potential for a mythic quality that engages a deeper level of consciousness than either
realistic fiction or the essay. While this is very likely Orwell's most perfect literary
production, the form of the fable does limit the emotional and psychological complexity of
the story, which is the limitation that Orwell sought to transcend in the more complex
Nineteen Eighty-Four....


In Nineteen-Eighty-Four Orwell envisions a time in the near future—when the world has been
divided into three super states, each of which is ruled by a system of oligarchical
collectivism that has brutally eliminated privacy, intellectual freedom, friendship, and
the autonomy of the individual, and each of which has systematically deprived its
inhabitants of a verifiable history and of the resources of a cultural consciousness. It
is a mistake to read this work as a fatalistic prophecy of the death of civilization, for
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