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Victoria Reads Books

Global citizen, adventurer, ponderer. Lover of coffee, books, and the Oxford comma. Infected by wanderlust, enchanted by stories. Might occasionally be a photo blog.

Currently reading

Jane Austen
Progress: 230/412 pages
Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Eight Great Comedies
Sylvan Barnet, Morton Berman, William Burton
The Longman Anthology of Short Fiction, Compact Edition: Stories and Authors in Context
Dana Gioia, R.S. Gwynn
Anna Karenina
Leo Tolstoy, Louise Maude, Aylmer Maude, E.B. Greenswood
Animal Farm - George Orwell "When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself: 'I am going to produce a work of art.' I write it because there is some lie I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing." - Orwell

Being the budding humanities student that I am, Animal Farm was one of the top books on my "Why Haven't I Read This Yet?" list. I am still reading [b:Infinite Jest|75786|Infinite Jest|David Foster Wallace|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1331321282s/75786.jpg|3271542] (as I have been for a very, very long time...). Yesterday, I knew that I would be stuck in Union Station in Toronto for several hours, so decided to get some reading done there. Not wanting to be weighed down by the brick that IJ is, I decided to grab another book off of my shelf, one that is first and foremost, light. Hence, Animal Farm. Finally.

I have been blessed with this incredibly sexy second-hand edition of Animal Farm:


In my formative years, before Goodreads, and before I knew of Orwell and the fact that this book is actually rather well known, this book was in my basement. Its cover and back cover blurb were never enough to entice me to read it, so I never had the experience of taking this story at face-value as an animal story. Its previous owner had been a student who did not speak English as her first language; hence, this book contains a rather large number of annotations which also prevented me from reading it from a pure story-standpoint. Nevertheless, the political allegory is quite blatant, and for anyone who knows anything about history or various political systems, the political allegory is very difficult to ignore- which, from the quotation that I started this review with, was Orwell's intent. Good job, Orwell.

One thing, amongst many, that I found very interesting about Animal Farm was the progress of hope throughout the novel. At the beginning, with the singing of 'Beasts of England' and with the stirrings of revolution, the animals cling onto a dream of a better future, which motivates their actions. However, as the book progresses, and the animals begin to forget and exchange what they had hoped for with the blind belief that they are better off than they were before, their hope for more dwindles into a suppressed acceptance.

The strength of this book is in its simplicity (a nice break from the whirlwind that IJ is). Using clear, well-written prose, Orwell is utterly convincing in his delivery. The book is very successfully structured and well-paced, never losing focus. Its conclusion is a punch in the gut (and is also very depressing. Thanks, Orwell). This combination of depressing, well-paced simplicity and clarity results in a powerful read that will be difficult to forget.