terça-feira, 28 de abril de 2009

ANIMAL FARM, by George Orwell

Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell (1946)

No writer has ever been more naked in his contempt for power, or more ruthless in his critique of those who abuse it, than the Englishman born Eric Blair, better known to the world as George Orwell. In Animal Farm he restages the hypocrisies of the Russian Revolution with the principal figures played by, of all things, farm animals. By presenting atrocities in the terms of a fairy tale, he makes them fresh, restoring to readers numbed by the 20th century's parade of disasters a sense of shock and outrage. Paradoxically, by turning Trotsky and Lenin and their followers into pigs and horses and chickens, he reveals them as all too human.—L.G.

From the TIME Archive:
Britons chuckling at Animal Farm are calling its author the most brilliant political satirist since Swift

The Dictatorship of the Animals
Monday, Feb. 04, 1946
George Orwell, a talented leftist writer, has emerged as one of Britain's best satirists. Britons, chuckling at his new book, Animal Farm,† a 92-page laugh-and thought-provoking satire on Communism and the Soviet Union, are calling its author the most brilliant political satirist since Swift.
Beasts of the World, Unite! Farmer Jones had a good farm, but he drank too much. One night, by the mystic operations of the historical dialectic, a leftist political theoretician appeared among his farm animals. He was old Major, a prize Middle White hog. Major addressed the other creatures:
"Comrades, what is the nature of this life of ours? Let us face it: our lives are miserable, laborious, and short. No animal in England knows the meaning of happiness or leisure after he is a year old. No animal in England is free. . . .
"But is this simply part of the order of nature? . . . No, comrades, a thousand times no! ... Why then do we continue in this miserable condition? Because nearly the whole of the produce of our labour is stolen from us by human beings. There, comrades, is the answer to all our problems. . . . Only get rid of Man, and the produce of our labour would be our own. Almost overnight we could become rich and free. What then must we do? Why, work night and day, body and soul, for the overthrow of the human race! That is my message to you, comrades: Rebellion!"
Then old Major cleared his throat and taught his followers a song, "a stirring tune, something between Clementine and La Cucuracha," which the animals found as moving as some people find Arise, Ye Prisoners of Starvation!:
Beasts of England, beasts of Ireland, Beasts of every land and clime, Hearken to my joyful tidings Of the golden future time. . . .
Riches more than mind can picture, Wheat and barley, oats and hay, Clover, beans and mangel-wurzels Shall be ours upon that day. . . .
The Animalist Manifesto. The next three months were feverish with secret political activity. The work of indoctrination and organizing fell to the pigs, who were the cleverest of the farm animals. Two pigs were outstanding: Napoleon, a big, rather fierce-looking boar of a Stalinesque taciturnity and resoluteness, and Snowball, an ingenious pig of Trotsky-esque vivacity and eloquence. There was also a somewhat Molotovish barrow named Squealer, "with very round cheeks, twinkling eyes, nimble movements, and a shrill voice. He was a brilliant talker, and when he was arguing some difficult point he had a way of skipping from side to side and whisking his tail which was somehow very persuasive."
These three turned the ideas of old Major (he had died) into a complete system of thought called Animalism. Their most faithful converts were two cart horses, Boxer and Clover. These two had a hard time thinking anything out for themselves. But they absorbed everything the pigs taught them and passed it on to the other animals in simple form.
The Revolution came sooner and was won more easily than anybody expected. Before hay harvest, Farmer Jones got drunk for two days. Nobody milked the cows or fed the animals. At last the frenzied creatures broke into the feed room. When Jones and his men arrived with whips, the animals turned on them and chased them off the farm.
The victorious animals tossed all bits, nose rings, dog chains and castrating knives down the well. Then they tiptoed into the farmhouse, gazed with awe at the luxury of feather mattresses, the Brussels carpet and a lithograph of Queen Victoria. The animals voted unanimously that the farmhouse should be preserved as a museum. Some hams, found hanging in the kitchen, were reverently buried.
Comrades Napoleon and Snowball announced that Animalism had been reduced to Seven Commandments, which would henceforth be the unalterable law of Animal Farm. These were painted on the side of the barn. At 30 yards, any animal that could read (chiefly the pigs) could read that "All animals are equal." Later Comrade Snowball reduced the principles of Animalism to one line: "Four legs good, two legs bad."
Gee Up, Comrade! "The pigs did not actually work, but directed and supervised the others. With their superior knowledge it was natural that they should assume the leadership. Boxer and Clover would harness themselves to the cutter or the horserake ... and tramp steadily round and round the field with a pig walking behind and calling out 'Gee up, comrade!' or 'Whoa back, comrade!' . . ."
Every animal seemed satisfied except a cynical old jackass named Benjamin, the only animal who could read as well as the pigs. When asked how he liked the dictatorship of the animals, he merely observed: "Donkeys live a long time."
The bulk of Animal Farm describes the slow rise to absolute power of Comrade Napoleon and the gradual transmogrification of the pigs. Comrade Snowball proposed to industrialize Animal Farm by building a stone mill. Comrade Napoleon declared the plan nonsense. He drove
Comrade Snowball off the farm. Then Napoleon took over the plan to build the mill. While the animals starved and slaved under the slogan, "I will work harder," the pigs moved into Jones's farmhouse, and the glorification of the Leader (as Comrade Napoleon was now called) became systematic. Hens were sometimes heard to say: "Under the guidance of our Leader, Comrade Napoleon, I have laid five eggs in six days." The Beasts of England song was no longer sung; the rage now was a rhyme called Comrade Napoleon:

Friend of the fatherless!
Fountain of happiness!
Lord of the swill-bucket! Oh, how my soul is on
Fire when I gaze at thy
Calm and commanding eye,
Like the sun in the sky,
Comrade Napoleon!
The Seven Commandments on the barn wall had been reduced to one. To the slow-witted work animals Benjamin, the donkey, read the new Commandment:

The Author. Tall, pale, chronically ailing George Orwell, 42, leads an unspectacular domestic life in the suburbs of London. A critic, essayist and novelist (A Clergyman's Daughter), Orwell contributes (in Britain) to his schoolmate Critic Cyril Connolly's highbrow monthly Horizon and to the leftist Tribune. In the U.S. his London Letter to Manhattan's Trot-skyoid quarterly Partisan RevIew has contained some of the war's most trenchant reporting on British politics, the Home Guard (Orwell was a member), black-market shenanigans, etc.
Born in Bengal of an Anglo-Indian family, Orwell was a scholarship student at Eton (where he "learned as nearly as possible nothing"), served for five years in Burma as a member of the Indian Imperial Police, fought and was severely wounded in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the P.O.U.M. militia (the loose organization of anti-Stalinist leftists which was fiercely attacked by the Communists).
Says Orwell: "What I saw in Spain and what I have seen since of the inner workings of left-wing political parties has given me a horror of politics. ... In sentiment I am definitely 'left,' but I believe that a writer can remain honest only if he keeps free of party labels."

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