***Animal Farm by George Orwell (1946)

When I read Animal Farm a hundred years ago or so–I don’t remember what grade–I think I got the overall premise of revolution and dictatorship communism, but I’m sure I didn’t fully appreciate Orwell’s message, and I certainly didn’t appreciate his writing.  I was so focused on understanding the book that I had neither the time nor the brainpower to digest his sentence style and imagery.  This time through, I tried to concentrate on how he brings the animals to life and how he creates their personalities.  The first paragraph in which he describes Mr. Jones locking the hen-houses and then lurching across the yard and kicking off his boots before drawing himself a beer is a model of descriptive writing–concise and powerful images that immediately characterize Mr. Jones as an irresponsible drunk who cares little for the well-being of his subjects.  That, in a nutshell, is what rebellions are made of.  Bottom line: if you haven’t read Animal Farm since junior high or high school, I urge you to pick it up and read it again.  You’ll find it a much more fascinating piece of literature, fable, and political commentary than you ever remembered.  (fiction)

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