Who wrote this book and when?
George Orwell published this in 1945.

Has there been a film version?
I know there’s at least been a made-for-tv movie, my mom recorded it in hopes of showing it to her AP English and Freshman English classes. I don’t think it turned out to be good enough to warrant keeping the VHS…

Who are the important characters?
Napolean – the lead pig of Animal Farm, originally lead with Snowball as well
Snowball – one of the creative porcine leaders of Animal Farm
Boxer – the giant workhorse, his personal motto is “I will work harder,” he takes personal reponsibility for getting much of the physical labor done
Clover – another draft horse, she is one of Boxer’s best friends
Old Major – the oldest and most respected of the pigs on Animal Farm, it is his dream which sets of the first animal rebellion after his death
Benjamin – a goat who is cynical about everything, the new farm, the old farm, the future, the past…everything. He’s also one of Boxer’s best friends.
Muriel – a goat who can read
Mr. Jones – the original owner of Animal Farm
Mr. Whymper – the liason between Animal Farm’s porcine leaders and the human world

What’s it about?
The animals of Manor Farm are tired of being mistreated. But until the fateful night the stately pig, Old Major, dreams a dream of animal utopia – nobody knew how to solve the problem. Old Major gathers all the animals together and tells them of his dream of no more humans, only animals running the farms of England. Then he teaches them a song from his childhood called ‘The Beasts of England” which they adopt as their anthem. Three days later, he dies.

The animals take their chance at freedom one day when the farmer, Mr. Jones, forgets to feed them. They run him and his wife off of Manor Farm and rename it Animal Farm. Two of the pigs, Snowball and Napolean, assume leadership and lay out seven commandments of Animal Farm. They hoist a flag and begin working on their utopia. But despite the animals’ best efforts, after a while, things begin to go horribly wrong…

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
Because it’s such a stunning essay on the condition of Stalinism and Communism – it’s written in such a way that it is easy to understand.

Do you recommend I read this book?
I guess so. It IS a classic. But it’s pretty depressing too.

How did this book make your list?
I had to read it in high school.

Has it won any awards?
I don’t believe so.

Favorite quotes:
“For example, Squealer told them that the pigs had to expend enormous labours every day upon mysterious things called ‘files,’ ‘reports,’ ‘minutes,’ and ‘memoranda.’ These were large sheets of paper which had to be closely covered with writing, and as soon as they were so covered, they were burnt in the furnace. This was of the highest importance for the welfare of the farm, Squealer said.” – p 129

Anything else?
This is not my favorite of George Orwell’s works, but it sure is pretty entertaining.

Personal thoughts:
I like this book and I don’t like this book. It’s very depressing – yet oddly humorous because it involves mainly animals. If this book were entire populated with people, it would be a political treatise, but it doesn’t so it isn’t. Instead, it seems to be some twisted sort of awkward fairy tale (which is how Orwell himself categorized it…). It’s depressing to me to see the consistent decline of the animal society just because of the pigs’ selfishness. However, I do understand Orwell’s point – even chasing a dream of utopia can lead to a much worse standard of living if you let the wrong sort of people get into power.

I also think it’s ironic that the copy of “Animal Farm” I checked out from the library was very dog-eared…mostly because some sort of smallish animal, such as a cat or small dog, had chewed all along the front and back covers and much of the pages’ corners.