What do Russians think of Animal Farm

Summary of Animal farm


Animal Farm is a parodic exaggeration, but the animal life on the farm follows the historical events in the early Soviet Union in an astonishing number of details. The rivalry between the two leading pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, is nothing more than a satirical retelling of the argument between Leon Trotsky and Stalin. Trotsky, Lenin's minister of war, was first isolated by his successor Joseph Stalin and his followers in the party, then expelled, banned and finally murdered in exile in 1940. Like the pig Napoleon, Stalin advocated "the development of socialism in one country" and used the intensification of the class struggle as a legitimation for repression. Certain forms of personality cult, such as the preference for gigantic monuments, are also typically Stalinist. There were also show trials in Russia like those on the animal farm, and the sheep instructed to bleat are reminiscent of Stalin's organized hurricane shouts. The Soviet Union took the form of a totalitarian regime even before World War II. The people suffered numerous famine in the years following the 1917 revolution. From 1936 to 1938 Stalin systematically killed the opponents of his regime in the so-called purges. Historians assume a total of 20-40 million victims who were exiled to the Soviet forced labor camps or murdered.


Orwell wrote Animal Farm from November 1943 to February 1944, in the middle of World War II, when the Soviet Union was one of the allies of Great Britain and the USA against Hitler's Germany. As the author writes in his epilogue, he had the basic idea for the book as early as 1937. Orwell, like many socialists, was concerned with the question of why the revolution in Russia had obviously failed. Orwell worked for the BBC during the war and began writing the fable. The satirical attack against Stalin could not initially be published for a long time: The criticism of the ally Stalin was improper, so that the book only found a publisher after the war. Orwell wanted Animal Farm to be understood as a manifesto for freedom of expression, which in times of war is endangered by censorship and self-censorship. In his afterword on freedom of the press, he writes: "If freedom means anything, it means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear." For Orwell, intellectual independence was an essential part of defending democracy. As the epilogue goes on to say, his militant fairy tale was also directed against the prevailing public opinion, the so-called "orthodoxy", which forbade any criticism of the ally Soviet Russia. At that time, it was not only the political left who tended to suppress the negative developments in the Soviet Union or to relativize them in view of the simultaneous horrors of fascism. Reverence for the military prowess of the Soviet Union was also widespread in Britain during the war.

Impact history

What the thinker Orwell, always striving for independence, had foreseen happened: shortly after the end of the Second World War, criticism of Stalin became opportune and anti-communism itself became the "ruling orthodoxy". The wind had turned, and Orwell's fable, which was still banned from publication during wartime, became a popular teaching text in the West. Even today, Animal Farm is widely read in school, as the book conveys political understanding in simple language. The story is one of the most famous works of the 20th century. In the communist states, the book was banned until the fall of the Iron Curtain around 1990.

1954 was filmed in an animated version of Animal Farm in Great Britain by John Halas and Joy Batcheler. The authors freely recounted Orwell's story, but they continued the tightrope walk between children's fairy tales and political horror. The lack of a happy ending did not fail to shock many children, and the film is still shown today to illustrate reading in schools.

In England, Animal Farm was also staged in a dramatization by Peter Hall in 1984. After the fall of the Soviet Union, director John Stephenson dared to make another film adaptation for American television in 1999. In the animated film, the farm residents are realistic, three-dimensional animal figures that Hollywood actors like Peter Ustinov lend their voices. The film has been criticized because, contrary to the literary model, it adds a happy ending: the reign of terror of the pigs is overthrown and the animal farm is taken over by a new, ideal super family.