Friday, 17 August 2018

four legs good, two legs bad

After considerable difficulty in finding a publisher for his manuscript—out of fears that criticism, however veiled, might distress the alliance with the Soviets under advisement of the Ministry of Information, George Orwell’s allegory Animal Farm was first released on this date in 1945.
The work, which is a retelling of the dismantling of the Czarist Russia and the violent Stalinist origins of the Soviet Union, informed by the author’s experiences of escaping Communist purges during the Spanish Civil War and realising how easily “enlightened people in democratic countries” can become gripped by propagandists and whipped into a furore. Originally bearing the subtitle “a fairy story,” the satire—removed from contemporary events and figures—does seem to become a clumsier way of getting one’s point across and might limit the novella’s scope away from dictatorships in general, but I think that such criticism—and we should have the wherewithal to question political relevance—re-enforces the need to study our history in order to avoid repeating it.