Animal Farm – A Sequel

by Nigel Bryant

Part One

[George Orwell’s Animal Farm was published after much difficulty in August 1945, seventy years ago. In ‘Animal Farm – A Sequel’, a three part study, Orwell Society member Nigel Bryant looks first at books and similar works continuing Animal Farm; then at film and other visual representations; and finally he discusses the treatment of political ideas in popular works and the origins of his own book, Manor Farm]

I live in Bedford and teach in Oxford. Not an ideal arrangement but the journey through the Oxfordshire countryside is pleasant enough. My old but much loved Volvo has two key features. I can put the top down in good weather and I can listen to cassette tapes. I visit the charity shops in Bedford (there are several) and buy talking books on tape. Generally a two-tape book will last one return journey. My taste is eclectic, determined by what is on the shelves rather than literary preferences. Books range from Winnie-the-Pooh to Great Expectations and everything in-between. After I listen to the book, I return the tapes to the charity shops for re-sale.

Two years ago I bought a recording of Animal Farm. An excellent version published by Penguin Audio (1995) and read by Timothy West; well worth the 99p I paid for it. I first read the book in the 1960s when it was de rigeur; along with Nineteen Eighty-Four, On the Road, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and the like. As I listened to the tapes, I could vaguely recall the original book. Two things struck me. Firstly, although I was aware of the outcome, the ending seemed inevitable. I continued to listen with a sense of sadness and impending doom. Secondly, I thought how relevant it was in 2013. Having read the book in the 1960s I thought it was written around that time. When I returned home I checked. Animal Farm was published on the 17th August 1945, seventy years ago as I write now in 2015.

A lot has happened during what is almost my lifetime. I thought about the threats when I was growing up: the atomic bomb, the cold war, the Cuban missile crisis, Czechoslovakia, Korea, Hungary, Vietnam, and the Berlin Wall. So many major issues. I began to wonder if there had been a sequel to Animal Farm. Of course, Nineteen Eighty-Four can be considered a sequel or perhaps the next stage in Orwell’s portrayal of dystopia, yet it could not pick up the events of the second half of the twentieth century. Inevitably, I searched online. I found sequels of different sorts.

  • Immediately I discovered English assignments where students had to write the next chapter of Animal Farm. Those published were usually the winners of a writing competition and were well written and plausible. They were, though, of necessity, brief and focussed on the confusion of the animals rather than moving forward with events.
  • Then I found a reference to a Russian sequel retelling the Khrushchev era onwards, introducing new animal characters who were caricatures of 1960s-1990s politicians. I have not been able to track the original source. Can anyone help me?
  • Next I discovered several rewrites of Animal Farm in different scenarios. The first was Snowball’s Chance by John Reed published in 2002 and written in Lower Manhattan, near Ground Zero, in the three weeks following September 11, 2001. The story begins with the death of Napoleon, the original antagonist of Animal Farm. The animals of the farm, fearing what will become of them, learn that Snowball is alive and well, and Snowball returns to the farm to encourage capitalism. The book describes the impact of capitalism on the animals and the environment. Snowball’s Chance focusses on a few specific events from an American perspective. It was not universally well received when it was published, especially by the Orwell Estate.
  • Another parallel version of Animal Farm is Anarchist Farm written by Jane Doe aka Jan Edwards and published in 1996. Anarchist Farm continues the story of Snowball, Napoleon’s exiled partner, who, under the assumed name of “Pancho” (Trotsky in Mexico?), meets up with different groups of animals who all practice different forms of imaginative, cooperative, non-government. Receiving mixed reviews in terms of literary style and writing, Anarchist Farm does give a reasonable introduction to the concept of anarcho-syndicalism. The book gives an alternative view rather than coverage of the last seventy years.
  • Hungry City by Carolyn Steel published in 2008 is not strictly a sequel to Animal Farm. It focusses on the food industry and its transformation. For the first time in history, supply no longer has any clear relation to demand. Output, and the complex international infrastructure that supports it, is controlled exclusively by profit. Chronic over-consumption with its attendant ills (obesity, diabetes, heart trouble) keeps pace in one part of the world with starvation in others. Steel cites several interesting statistics, for example, ninety per cent of milk in the United States now comes from a single breed of cow. An interesting and scary read.
  • Manor Farm, written by J. A. Jones and published in 2006, follows the progress of the planet Gaia created by Mother Gaia from dinosaurs to Armageddon. Following her creation of the dinosaurs, which she was forced to exterminate as she knew they would eventually destroy the planet, Mother Gaia created many forms of different animals that she hoped would develop and live happily together on the planet: but she was wrong. The animals are beginning to destroy the planet and she had to decide whether to exterminate them as well. Manor Farm refers to a green and pleasant land. The book covers other farms, for example Black Eagle Farm, a totalitarian state with the führer – Ferit Lahdol.
  • Manor Farm, I discovered, is a popular book title, and I found another, written by Boswell Taylor, and published in 1963. It tells of a year on a farm in the West Country. The black and white photographs show an idyllic world. No deep political meaning here but a nostalgic read if you need one.

[Continued in Part Two]

Seventy Years Of Relevance: The Birth of Animal Farm

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is seventy years old in August 2015. If some people had had their way then that would not be true. Peter Davison’s George Orwell: A Literary Life (Macmillan 1996) details the struggles behind the emergence of Animal Farm: A Fairy Story but here is a quick account of its publication.

Animal Farm was published by Martin Secker and Warburg on August 17th 1945 at a price of six shillings (now 30p). It had been delayed and the true first edition (first impression) has a date of May 1945 inside, though no copy actually appeared then.

First Edition cover

After three printings totalling 20,500 copies, in May 1949 the ‘Cheap Edition’ was issued, priced at three shillings and sixpence (17.5p); the dust-jacket kept the green but swapped grey for cream in its colour scheme, exchanged diagonals for rectangles, and dropped the sub-title. 6000 copies were printed thus.

The jacket describes the book in these words: ‘In this good-natured satire upon dictatorship, George Orwell makes use of the technique perfected by Swift in The Tale of a Tub. It is the history of a revolution that went wrong – and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for each perversion of the original doctrine.

‘The animals on the farm drive out their master and take over and administer the farm for themselves., The experiment is entirely successful, except for the unfortunate fact that someone has to take the deposed farmer’s place. Leadership devolves almost automatically upon the pigs, who are on a higher intellectual level than the rest of the animals. Unhappily their character is not equal to their intelligence, and out of this fact springs the main development of the story. The last chapter brings a dramatic change, which, as soon as it has happened, is seen to have been inevitable from the start.’

Animal Farm Cheap Edition

On July 27th 1951 Penguin Books published the first British paperback edition in their traditional orange and white cover in a print-run of 60,000 copies.

In the USA by this time over half a million copies had been printed. It was their sale that gave Orwell financial security for the first time in his life. Quickly translated around the world, Orwell gave up all royalties on copies destined for Ukrainian and Russian refugees.

By LJH

 

 

1984 by George Orwell – Directed by Liz Postlethwaite

1984 flyer updated
Post-graduate students from ALRA North presents Matthew Dunster’s ‘enthralling adaptation’ of a classic novel 1984 By George Orwell, directed by Liz Postlethwaite and  in association with Oldham Coliseum Theatre.

Performances will take place at various venues from Tuesday 8th – Thursday 17th September 2015

Winston Smith rewrites history for the Ministry of Truth, but when he is handed a note that says simply ‘I love you,’ by a woman he hardly knows, he decides to risk everything in a search for real truth. In a world of cheap entertainment, where a war without end is always fought and the government is always watching, can Winston possibly hold onto what he feels inside?

The Kings Arms, Salford, Tues 8 Sept – 7.30pm www.kingsarmssalford.com 

Slaithwaite Civic Hall, Weds 9 Sept – 7.30pm
www.communitydirectory.kirklees.gov.uk

Mill at the Pier, Wigan, Mon 14 Sept – 7.30pm
www.alra.co.uk/index.php/whats-on-at-alra
Tel: 01942 821021

UCLAN, Preston, Tues 15 Sept – 7.00pm
www.uclan.ac.uk

Staffordshire University, Weds 16 Sept – 7.00pm
www.staffs.ac.uk/events

Oldham Library, Thurs 17 Sept – 7.00pm
www.coliseum.org.uk/plays/1984

Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (Copyright, 1949) is bought to us by permission of Bill Hamilton as the Literary Executor of the Estate of the Late Sonia Brownell Orwell

George Orwell Always in the News Number 15

David Lodge Notices Authors Become Less Creative

David Lodge, retired academic, is a prospective retired author. The Independent quotes Professor Lodge in a radio interview saying ‘I think a lot of writers who begin early, like I did, probably reach their peak in their 40s and 50s,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House.

‘After that, it becomes more of a struggle. Books take longer to write …’ (Independent 31 May 2015). The report examines other recent authors such as Harold Pinter and Molly Parkin.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/david-lodge-says-authors-hit-their-peak-in-their-40s-and-become-less-creative-as-they-get-older-10287837.html

It is not a new idea: George Orwell described it nearly seventy years ago: ‘A novelist … has an initial impulse which is good for three or four books, perhaps even for a dozen, but which must exhaust itself sooner or later. Obviously one cannot lay down any rigid rule, but in many cases the creative impulse seems to last for about fifteen years: in a prose writer these fifteen years would probably be between the ages of thirty and forty-five, or thereabouts. A few writers, it is true, have a much longer lease of life, and can go on developing when they are middle-aged or even old. But these are usually writers (examples: Yeats, Eliot, Hardy, Tolstoy) who make a sudden, almost violent change in their style, or their subject-matter, or both, and who may even tend to repudiate their earlier work.’ (As I Please, 6 December 1946).

While Professor Lodge agrees with Orwell’s age-range for artistic exhaustion, Orwell’s observation on change of style extending an artistic life is confirmed by Antonia Fraser’s memory of Harold Pinter in the Independent article. Known as a playwright, ‘Harold continued to write wonderful poetry very late on’ she remembers.

It seems that nothing has changed since Orwell identified the situation nearly seventy years ago.

George Orwell Always in the News Number 14

Orwell and Camus: The Meeting That Never Was

Some of George Orwell’s meetings with the remarkable men of his time have reached almost mythic status. Think of the alleged rushing in and out of the Hotel Scribe in Paris at the end of the war, with its borrowing of a service revolver from Ernest Hemingway for an unspecified purpose; or think of the dinner party in the blitz that Orwell and his wife, Eileen, threw for H G Wells. It ended in bitterness and recrimination, and though two of the other attendees each wrote their own account of the evening, we still have no definitive way of knowing what happened.

Now, though, Matthew Lamb has written an account of a meeting that should have happened but didn’t: ‘One day in February 1945, in Paris, George Orwell waited at the café Deux Magots, where he was to meet Albert Camus for the first time. But Camus, suffering from tuberculosis and exhaustion — because of which he was currently on leave from his editorship of the resistance newspaper Combat — didn’t show up. They would never again have the chance to meet’ (Los Angeles Review of Books, April 13th 2015).

You can read the full article online here:

http://lareviewofbooks.org/essay/meeting-never

It ends: ‘it is likely that they would have spoken about Spain. Orwell’s 1938 book “Homage to Catalonia”, about his experience of the Spanish Civil War, was soon to be published in a French translation. Camus had an abiding affiliation with Spain. His mother was Spanish. He was also currently having a love affair with María Casares — a Spanish actress, the daughter of Santiago Casares y Quiroga, the prime minister of Spain during the military uprising in 1936, which started the civil war. Camus would have been interested to hear about Orwell’s time in Spain, and especially about his being shot through the throat. Orwell would have been interested to hear, via Camus’s close contacts, current news of Spain…

‘Coffee over, cigarettes snubbed out, they would have shaken hands and then gone their separate ways, but ever in the same direction.’

By LJH

George Orwell Always in the News Number 13

Daring Unimaginable

Anyone who wished to read more about George Orwell and anti-Semitism after reading our note on Orwell, Lionel Davidson and the Royal Navy, might want to read a review in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which appeared in August 2012.

Anshei Pfeffer’s article was written as a review of Orwell’s Diaries which were to be published in one volume with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens. The article discusses ‘Antisemitism in Britain’ in detail:

http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/was-orwell-an-anti-semite-1.455763

The article says that ‘Contemporary Jewish Record’, where Orwell’s essay first appeared, became the magazine ‘Commentary’, which is still in print today.

It concludes ‘Orwell put the handling of his own feelings toward Jews on public display, an act of daring unimaginable today by any “respectable” writer.’

‘(A)n act of daring’ – praise indeed.

By LJH

The re-dedication of the plaque on “Booklovers Corner” South End Green 18th July 2018

David Kitchen, of the South End Green Association in Hampstead, hosted a re-dedication of the plaque to George Orwell, which was attended by a good crowd of members from the Association and the Orwell Society. We were able to enjoy the event in warm sunshine.

1

The Former Booklovers Corner

2

The Plaque

The plaque has had a difficult life and after the restoration, which was made with the active involvement of the Orwell Society and Committee Member Phil Robertson and the skills of his Father, Richard Blair re-dedicated it for what was its 3rd unveiling.

After a witty speech of welcome by David Kitchen, in which he re-imagined the daily routine of Orwell around the Green, including fetching his French Newspaper from the local News Agent, which still sells a host of international titles, Richard spoke about his Father and his time in the area.

3

David Kitchen and Richard Blair by the Fountain on the Green…

4

…and the News Agent

We were pleased to also hear from our local member, Lorcan Greene, who has written a comprehensive paper on Orwell in Hampstead, which will be published in November in the Historical journal for this area.

5

David Kitchen and Lorcan Greene

6

The Re-dedication

Once the formal re-dedication was completed, members of SEGA and the OS went to 77 Parliament Hill, which George Orwell lived in and where he met Eileen.

A stimulating event, in which we had enjoyed the hospitality of David Kitchen and SEGA, ended suitably with a drink and relaxed conversation in one of the pubs on South End Green, which George Orwell frequented.

7

A view of the Green from the pub, looking towards the bookshop

In the foreground on the green is a young elm tree. When the previous tree died, SEGA conducted research to establish, which type of tree was George Orwell’s favourite. The Local Authority agreed to plant an elm, and to progressively create an elm grove around the fountain on the Green as trees need replacing.

Our next event is the London Walk in Fitzrovia and Soho on the 26th September, led by Michael King.

By Quentin Kopp

Dystopian fiction prize challenge for university students

To celebrate George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Orwell Society is organising a competition for students (both BA and MA) at British universities. Dystopian narratives of 3,000 words should be sent to Professor Richard Lance Keeble, chair of the Orwell Society, via dystopianfictioncompetition@orwellsociety.com, by 15 January 2016. A fee of £5 will be charged for each entry.

The judging panel comprises Richard Blair, the son of George Orwell and Patron of the Orwell Society, Dr Julie Wheelwright, programme director of the Creative Writing (narrative non-fiction/creative writing and publishing) MA at City University London, and Professor Richard Lance Keeble. The prize of £500 will be announced on 15 February and comes with a trophy which is a bust of Orwell. They will be handed over by Richard Blair at the Society’s AGM later in the year.

The judges will be looking for the narrative which best follows in the tradition set by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four and which Orwell is most likely to have admired. The winning entry will be published in the Society’s Journal and (along with the two runners-up) on the Society’s website, www.orwellsociety.com.

Entries can be submitted by paying £5 by one of the following means, referencing the prize:

  • Via Paypal: The PayPal account is paypal@orwellsociety.com.
  • Sterling bank transfer: Make a sterling payment to the Society’s bank account (account name: ‘The Orwell Society’; sort code 601035; account number 13166417).
  • UK sterling cheque: Please send your cheque, payable to The Orwell Society, to The Orwell Society, Marie Cottage, Bickenhill Lane, Catherine-de-Barnes, Solihull B92 0DE.

All submissions should be in a Word file (not PDF) and begin with a cover page providing title of story, name of author, name of university, name of programme studying on, and full contact details (address, telephone etc). The story should be presented in 12 pt Times Roman double spaced – with each page numbered and it should end with a word count.

The Orwell Society has been formed to promote the public understanding of Orwell’s life and writings. It organises trips to places associated with Orwell’s life (in Scotland, London and Spain, for instance), holds conferences, runs the lively website and publishes a regular Journal.

George Orwell Always in the News Number 12

The 21 greatest TV adaptations – 1984 “watched by the largest audience since the Coronation”

From the Daily Telegraph:-

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/11359903/greatest-TV-adaptations.html?frame=3171857

’12. 1984 (1953, BBC)

Television’s capacity to deliver a shocking message directly into people’s homes was made evident in this early adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel, shot just four years after its publication. Written by Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale, it was hugely controversial because of its depiction of the torture of its hero Winston Smith.

Although the brutality was not shown directly, audiences were so shocked that MPs publicly spoke out against the drama. A repeat shown four days after the first broadcast was watched by the largest audience since the Coronation.’

By LJH

 

The official society for the author Eric Arthur Blair known as George Orwell