Orwell — Animal Farm

Animal Farm.

I recently re-read this. In the course of doing so, I found TS Eliot’s famous rejection when he was a director of the publisher Faber and Faber in 1943.

When Orwell submitted his allegory on Stalin’s dictatorship, Elliot praised its ‘good writing’ and ‘fundamental integrity’ but felt it was not the right time to criticise the political situation. Britain was allied with the Soviet Union against Hitler. He also added that “your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm without them:so that what was needed (some might argue)was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.” The pertinence of this comment is not self-evident.

However, ‘Animal Farm’ was published the following year by Secker & Warburg.Orwell had written a preface which, for some reason, was not included.It was discovered and is now included in the current Penguin edition. In it he refers to one publisher submitting to Animal Farm to the Ministry of Information which, in response, added the comment: “ Another thing: it would be less offensive if the predominant caste in the fable were not pigs. I think the choice of pigs will no doubt give offence to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are.”In the preface Orwell comments, “At this moment what is demanded by prevailing orthodoxy is an uncritical admiration of Soviet Russia. Everyone knows this, nearly everyone acts on it. Any serious criticism of the Soviet regime, any disclosure of facts which the Soviet government would prefer to keep hidden, is next to unprintable. And this nation-wide conspiracy to flatter our ally takes place, curiously enough, against a background of genuine intellectual tolerance. For though you are not allowed to criticise the Soviet Government, at least you are reasonably free to criticise your own. Hardly anyone ill print an attack on Stalin, but it is quite safe to attack Churchill, at any rate in books and periodicals.”

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Published in: Uncategorized on June 25, 2010 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

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