Boxer symbolises the proletariat, is not paralleled by any incident in Stalin’s career—unless the Scorched Earth policy is indicated). But it is unfair to harp on these considerations. Animal Farm is one of the most enjoyable books since the war, it is deliciously written, with something of the feeling, the penetration and the verbal economy of Orwell’s master, Swift. It deserves a wide sale and a lengthy discussion. Apart from the pleasure it has given me to read, I welcome it for three reasons, because it breaks down some of the artificial reserve with which Russia is written about, or not written about (a reserve which we do not extend to America—nor they to us), because it restores the allegorical pamphlet to its rightful place as a literary force, and lastly because it proves that Mr Orwell has not been entirely seduced away by the opinion-airing attractions of weekly journalism from his true vocation, which is to write books.
Isaac Rosenfeld, Nation
7 September 1946, pp. 273-4
George Orwell, to judge by his writing, is a man, not without imagination, who is never swept away by his imagination. His work as a literary critic and analyst of politics and popular culture runs along a well laid out middle course, kept true to it by an even keel; it is always very satisfying, except when he ventures out into certain waters, as in his reflections on art and poetry in his ‘Dickens, Dali, and Others, ’ where a deep keel has the advantage over an even one. Even when he is wrong, as he was many times during the war in his political comments and predictions, he is wrong in a sensible way. He stands for a common sense and a reasonableness which are rare today, especially when these virtues are removed from the commonplace, as they are in Orwell’s case, though not absolutely.
Animal Farm, a brief barnyard history of the Russian Revolution from October to just beyond the Stalin-Hitler pact, is the characteristic