Literally, this classic is a simple tale of a dying pig who inspires his fellow oppressed animals to stage a rebellion against their cruel human owner.
9 things you didn't know about the George Orwell classic
To mark its 70th anniversary (it was first published on August 17, 1945), here’s a look at 9 Animal Farm facts you probably weren’t taught in your English class.
But for any student who read this in school, the book was actually intended as a thinly-veiled attack against the evils of Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship.
To mark its 70th anniversary (it was first published on August 17, 1945), Metro compiled a list of 9 Animal Farm facts you probably weren’t taught in your English class.
1. The book was shaped by Orwell’s experience in the Spanish Civil War
Orwell first wrote about his experiences during the Spanish Civil War for his 1938 non-fiction classic, Homage to Catalonia.
His time escaping the communist purges in Spain also inspired him to expose ‘how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries’. Animal Farm was the result.
2. The farm setting was inspired by a 10-year-old boy
Orwell also became inspired to set the satirical tale on a farm after watching a young boy whipping a carthorse whenever it tried to turn:
‘It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.
3. A Russian spy thwarted its publication
Orwell initially had great difficulty in getting the manuscript for Animal Farm published, largely due to fears over its anti-Russian sentiment.
The book finally looked set to see the light of day when it was accepted by British publisher Jonathan Cape.
However, the company swiftly changed their minds after being warned off by Peter Smollett, a government official who was later revealed to be a Soviet spy.
4. Early reviews weren’t always kind
Since its publication, Animal Farm has been named one of the 100 best English-language novels by Time magazine, won a Hugo Award and been included in the prestigious Great Books of the Western World selection.
However, some of its early reviews weren’t as glowing, with the New Republic in particular describing it as ‘dull, inconsistent and full of stereotypes’.
5. The book made Orwell a household name
Although several of Orwell’s previous non-fiction efforts (The Road To Wigan Pier, Homage To Catalonia) have since become just as celebrated, Animal Farm was his first commercial success and ultimately paved the way for his even more acclaimed follow-up, 1984.
6. Orwell’s wife died shortly before its publication
Sadly, Orwell’s wife Eileen – his biggest champion – wasn’t able to witness his new-found popularity.
His spouse of nine years died of cardiac failure while under anaesthetic for a hysterectomy on March 29, 1945, less than six months before Animal Farm first hit the shelves.
7. It’s been adapted twice for the big screen
Animal Farm was first given the big-screen treatment in 1954 with the first ever British animated feature to get a theatrical release.
A live-action remake featuring the voices of Patrick Stewart, Kelsey Grammar and Pete Postlethwaite was released to mixed reviews in 1999.
8. Animal Farm isn’t its full title
Orwell originally called his book Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but the subtitle was dropped by American publishers in 1946 and omitted by all but one of the translations during Orwell’s lifetime.
9. It was banned in the Eastern Bloc
Unsurprisingly, due to its themes, Animal Farm was banned by the Eastern Bloc countries until the collapse of communism in 1989.
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