How did George Orwell come to TB
George Orwell's "Animal Farm": Who Are the Pigs?
The novel is set on a farm: "Mr. Jones from the gentlemen's farm locked the chicken coops at night, but was too drunk to think about closing the loopholes."
Orwell (1903-1950), whose real name was Eric Arthur Blair, begins his story about the farm's animals planning a revolution against their exploitative owner with simple words.
The master of social criticism could not have suspected that "Animal Farm" would become a classic in political literature. Orwell wrote the book in late 1943 and early 1944.
The pigs take over the farmer's farm: Book cover of the German version "Farm der Tiere"
At first he couldn't find a publisher in his native Great Britain: What at first seems like a harmless children's story is in truth a grim satire and a tough accusation against Stalin's dictatorship in the Soviet Union.
And because the Soviet Union was Great Britain's ally against Nazi Germany in the then ongoing Second World War, the publication of such a story did not seem politically opportune. In 1945 "Animal Farm" was finally able to appear after the end of the war.
Some animals are more equal than the others
And what does the fable tell? The old and respected boar Old Major opens the eyes of the animals on the "gentleman's farm" from the incompetent and constantly drunk farmer Mr. Jones with an impressive speech: He brands people as exploiters. The tormentors would have to be driven out by a revolution. But he also warns against becoming human after the revolution: "All animals are the same, regardless of their strength or intelligence."
When Old Major dies shortly afterwards, the animals take the opportunity to drive farmer Jones from the farm - under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball. First of all, all animals take over the farm together and everything gets better: The animals work hard because they work for themselves and show solidarity with one another. The "Herrenfarm" is renamed "Animal Farm".
Orwell's "Animal Farm" (GB / 1955) was released in Germany under the title "Aufstand der Tiere"
But the clever pigs soon seize the command and gradually expand their supremacy to a dictatorship, which overshadows everything that the animals actually wanted to shake off. The pigs justify their power with the slogan: "All animals are the same, but some animals are more equal than the others."
Capitalism versus socialism
The differences between humans and pigs as rulers blur at the end of the novel - also visually. The other animals on the farm can no longer recognize who is a person and who is a pig - who is a capitalist and who is a socialist.
Visionary writer: George Orwell (Photo: 1941)
"Animal Farm", as the book is called in the English original, describes the course of a revolution that has to fail. Orwell believed that revolutions can shift power. The basic social structures, however, remain untouched: the few powerful exploit many without rights.
Literature as a weapon in the Cold War
George Orwell's "Animal Farm" was strictly forbidden in the Soviet Union and its satellite states. Orwell was a staunch leftist: In the Spanish Civil War he fought in the ranks of the "POUM", a communist group that was viewed as competition by Soviet Stalinism.
The first German translation of "Farm der Tiere" appeared in 1946. In the GDR, however, the extremely uncomfortable book, like Orwell's "1984", was banned until the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the German Democratic Republic in 1989.
CIA bought film rights to "Animal Farm"
After Orwell's death in 1950, the US foreign intelligence service, the CIA, bought the film rights to score points in the Cold War against the Soviet Union. The cartoon "Animal Farm" was produced in the UK between 1951 and 1954 by John Halas and Joy Batchelor.
The plot stuck largely to the template. But the story ended in a second revolution against the rule of the pigs. Because in the middle of the Cold War, the CIA could hardly leave George Orwell's equation of capitalists and socialists at the end of the novel.
Big Brother is watching you! Scene John Hurt in a film adaptation of Orwell's "1984"
In the 1999 film adaptation "Animal Farm", John Stephenson changed the plot considerably by incorporating the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 and ending with a happy ending suitable for children: After years of pig rule, new people are taking over the farm again. The animals cheer: "... and finally we were free!"
The British journalist and writer George Orwell wanted to draw attention to political grievances with his books - and often used the form of satire. "Animal Farm" and "Nineteen Eighty-Four" ("1984"), which appeared in 1949, are among his most famous works today. In it he showed what it means to live in an authoritarian state in which there is total surveillance and people are manipulated by propaganda.
"Animal Farm" is a fable that fits into any totalitarian system. Despite the 75 years that history now has under its belt, it has not gotten old. Both of these Orwell classics are still widely read today - especially by young readers.
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