Arriving home late one evening I sat at the kitchen table eating a warmed-up plate of food when I spied a little paperback perched on a pile of papers. I flipped it over to see Animal Farm by George Orwell. It seems my teenage daughter was supposed to have read the classic fairy story and it had now been tossed aside.
Napoleon and Snowball. Indelible marks of division and hypocrisy from my adolescence. It has been 30 years (dear Lord!) since I read this book. I thumbed through the preface one morning and was hooked. I tore through it again enjoying every page. It’s a completely different read at this point in my life. I certainly have nothing to offer or add to the volumes of literary criticism that have piled up over the years but the difference between who I was when I read it the first time and who I now make it a remarkable treat.
Orwell was battling European complacency to the advancing red menace in Russia, and the stinging satire he used has a strange resonance today. As a staunch Democratic Socialist, he may very well have fallen into lockstep with our current administration, but his contempt for the corrupting nature of power would probably have soured him to it quickly. In fact, his themes in Animal Farm are mirrored in society today with:
- Polar division of leadership that rewrites history to fit the current narrative.
- Diminishing freedoms that U.S. citizens have as a direct result of government overreach.
- Laws were passed and edited after the fact without consensus or even public scrutiny.
Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall on, developments like these cast a very eery shadow over the book. In fact my reading this time had a rather chilling effect on me.
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
My daughter hated Animal Farm, hell I hated it when I was her age, but now… now I have one eye on the dogs that Napoleon is using and keep the other eye fixed at the far side of the hedges.