Animal Farm

Orwell, George

George Orwell, pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair, 1903–50, British novelist and essayist, b. Bengal, India. He is best remembered for his scathingly satirical and frighteningly political novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. After attending Eton, he served (1922–27) with the Indian imperial police in Burma (now Myanmar). He returned to Europe in 1927, living penuriously in Paris and later in London. In 1936 he fought with the Republicans in the Spanish civil war and was seriously wounded. His writings—particularly such early works as Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), Burmese Days (1934), The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), and Homage to Catalonia (1938)—are highly autobiographical.

Orwell was a keen critic of imperialism, fascism, Stalinism, and capitalism, all of which seemed to him forms of political oppression, and although he espoused a sort of socialism, he refused to be formally associated with any ideology or party label. His works are concerned with the sociopolitical conditions of his time, notably with the problem of human freedom. Animal Farm (1946) is a witty, satirical fable about the failure of Soviet-style Communism, and Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) is a prophetic novel describing the dehumanization of humanity in a mechanistic, totalitarian world. Orwell's other novels include A Clergyman's Daughter (1935), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936), and Coming Up for Air (1940). The master of a superbly lucid prose style, Orwell wrote many literary essays, which some critics find superior to his novels. His volumes of essays include Dickens, Dali and Others (1946), Shooting an Elephant (1950), and the Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (4 vol., 1968, repr. 2000).

See S. Orwell and I. Angus, ed., The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell (4 vol., 1968, repr., 2000); P. Davison, ed., The Complete Works of George Orwell (20 vol., 1998), George Orwell: A Life in Letters (2010), and Diaries (2012); S. Orwell and I. Angus, ed., The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters (4 vol., 1968, repr. 2000); biographies by B. Crick (1980), M. Shelden (1991), J. Meyers (2000), G. Bowker (2003), and D. J. Taylor (2003); A. Coppard and B. Crick, ed., Orwell Remembered (1985); studies by J. Meyers, ed. (1975), R. Williams (1981), L. Hunter (1984), R. Alok (1989), J. Rodden (1989, repr. 2002), and C. Hitchens (2002).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Understanding Animal Farm: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents
John Rodden.
Greenwood Press, 1999
George Orwell's Animal Farm
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1999
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
Animal Farm: Sixty Years On: Robert Pearce Gives a Historian's-Eye View of George Orwell's Classic Novel
Pearce, Robert.
History Today, Vol. 55, No. 8, August 2005
Student Companion to George Orwell
Mitzi M. Brunsdale.
Greenwood Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "All Animals Are Equal, but. . .: Animal Farm"
Classic Cult Fiction: A Companion to Popular Cult Literature
Thomas Reed Whissen.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Animal Farm begins on p. 10
Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide
M. Keith Booker.
Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "George Orwell: Animal Farm (1946)" begins on p. 206
George Orwell: The Critical Heritage
Jeffrey Meyers.
Routledge, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Animal Farm in multiple chapters
The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology
Daphne Patai.
University of Massachusetts Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "Political Fiction and Patriarchal Fantasy"
Essays on Politics and Literature
Bernard Crick.
Edinburgh University Press, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Twelve "Animal Farm for Schools"
Not All Books Are Created Equal: Orwell & His Animals at Fifty
Byrne, Katharine.
Commonweal, Vol. 123, No. 10, May 17, 1996
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