Lies About Books: Animal Farm

Now that November is almost definitely over, it is time for another completely inaccurate Lies About Books Review! In the month of November, I re-read parts of George Orwell’s novel Animal Farm.

Animal Farm is a curious postmodernist work. Unsatisfied with typical agricultural practices, the farmer Mr. Jones decides to plant the very animals of his farm, and grow crops of them instead of corn or wheat.

Buried up to their necks in earth and watered every day, the animals follow the principles of Lamarckian evolution and develop photosynthesis as quickly as they can, in order to survive. Soon Jones’ farm – dubbed “Animal Farm” for the unconventional fruit it bears – becomes renowned world over, and biologists, botanists, and evolutionary theorists alike all come to view his success and learn how to replicate it.

This is quite enough complexity already for an interesting novel, but Orwell adds that the book was intended as an allegory for constitutional monarchy: after all, is the true feat with Jones, who only leads and waters, or with the animals who serve him, who did all the evolutionary work of spontaneously generating chloroplasts?

Animal Farm is notable for originating the now-popular phrases “Mitochondria good, chloroplasts better!” and “All animals are plantlike, but some animals are more plantlike than others.”

Although odd in parts, Animal Farm is, overall, an enjoyable and informative work. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Lamarck, talking animals, or powerful political allegories.


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