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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Animal Farm: Selected full-text books and articles

George Orwell's Animal Farm By Harold Bloom Chelsea House, 1999
Librarian’s tip: This is a book of literary criticism
CliffsNotes, Animal Farm By Daniel Moran Wiley, 2001
Librarian’s tip: This is the CliffsNotes on Animal Farm
Student Companion to George Orwell By 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 By Thomas Reed Whissen Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Animal Farm begins on p. 10
Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide By M. Keith Booker Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "George Orwell: Animal Farm (1946)" begins on p. 206
George Orwell: The Critical Heritage By Jeffrey Meyers Routledge, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of Animal Farm in multiple chapters
The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology By Daphne Patai University of Massachusetts Press, 1984
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Seven "Political Fiction and Patriarchal Fantasy"
Essays on Politics and Literature By 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 By Byrne, Katharine Commonweal, Vol. 123, No. 10, May 17, 1996
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