the animal farm

Joan Miró, Character, Bronze, 200 x 120 x 90 cm, 1970.
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By PAULO SCOTT*

Presentation of the newly edited book by George Orwell.

Good books resist the years, decades, contrasts and ideological injunctions, episodic hegemonies and structural hegemonies, by renewing themselves, especially in the readings and rereadings they provide, in the face of civilizing progress, its contradictions and limits, and the expansion of of our ability to understand and problematize the tragedies unavoidably linked to this advance.

Author of magnificent essays about the social complexities of his time and the literary production in the English language, George Orwell, born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25, 1903, in the city of Motihari, India – still afflicted, at the time, by the presence British colonial era –, in addition to emblematic journalistic texts, he wrote fiction that impacted readers and also critics in a way that very few authors could.

His works shifted lenses towards what, limited to contemporary elements of their time, and hitherto little scrutinized, could, in their perverse potentiality, trigger unstoppable paths towards the worst scenarios of political and social application. In this sense, two fictional works by him gained attention, becoming extremely popular: 1984 e The Animal Farm: A Fairy Tale.

Using a supposedly simple format, easy to read and assimilate, that of fables, the farm of the animalsbut it is a narrative of many implications. Directed by its author – staunch opposition to the logic of British imperialism and the capitalist system in general –, as an acute criticism of totalitarian practices, a context in which totalitarian propaganda is included, committed by Stalin in the Soviet Union, this book contemplates a scenario , a setting, quite elementary: the routine of a farm.

On this invented farm, located in the interior of an England that, according to Orwell himself, was not completely democratic, the owner, a decadent, drunk, indebted man, treats the animals that live there in an increasingly cruel way. For this reason, at a certain point, the animals – inspired by the dream of an elderly pig called Major, who passes away “peacefully in his sleep” days after voicing his vision of a better future – rebel against the farmer who oppresses them, the man, the only enemy.

From this rebellion (the author does not use the word “revolution”), the management of the farm by the animals begins. The pigs take the lead and start directing the other animals – among them Snowball and Napoleon stand out, characters that, in the author's allegorical proposal, would represent, respectively, Leon Trotsky and Josef Stalin. The book is not exactly a critique of Soviet communism (or communist and socialist ideologies), but an unveiling of atrocious and distorted behaviors that, in the narrative induction, would connect to the atrocities and distortions produced by Stalinism. This – protected by an ideological propaganda, cult to the personality of the leader, of the severe and protective father, very well executed, very effective – was read and extolled externally as a justified solution and possible, adequate realization of socialist ideals.

One cannot forget that Orwell was a child of the popular classes and knew the hard side of human existence before becoming the writer he wanted to be. In the wake of this, one can also point out, in a quasi-defense perspective, the use of the emblematic figure of Trotsky – the author flirted with and, at various times, punctually adhered, in militancy and struggle, to Trotskyism – which, purged, would assume, in the Stalin's speech, the role of conspiratorial ghost, part of the gear of threats to the Soviet nation.

This edition, translated by Fábio Bonillo, brings the preface written by Orwell in 1945 for the launch of his the animal farm – text that was rejected by the editors at the time –, making it possible to understand the extent of his will to attack totalitarianism, the oppression of the Soviet people by its leader Josef Stalin, but not only that. This text reveals the ethics that drive the readings and production of this tireless writer, whose sensitivity positioned him in a place of never adhering to the civilizing schemes of oppression, especially the oppression managed by the capitalists, the owners of the financial system, of mass technologies , from large estates, the master puppeteers of the collective conviction that the normality of the world lies in the affirmation of an equality that will never be so equal. It is almost impossible to find someone minimally tuned in, tuned in, who, lover of literature or not, at some point has not bumped into the assertion “all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”, which tells the story.

As a reader of this work, someone who fervently discussed it with friends in their late teens – just as they discussed the 1984 –, who was a student activist who sympathized with Trotskyism, who still claims to be minimally able to understand and analyze some of the idiosyncrasies of contemporary times, I think the book is an attack on exploitation. And, as a Brazilian, I think it is possible to relate it to the Brazilian way of perpetuating inequalities. Rebellion comes, rebellion comes, coup comes, coup comes, pact comes, pact comes and nothing shakes the crystallized caste that, in a slow rotation scheme, embodying less than one percent of the population, hegemonizes the control of a model of subjugation of a historically unassisted people, constantly conspiring against the possibility of a nation project.

Read the animal farm it is also, therefore, a possible way of understanding Brazil, the Brazilian State as a space engendered to never leave the logic of our systematic oppression of the poor and miserable classes, of the middle class – which sees itself as rich when, in fact, it only receives crumbs –, of our working class – debased, stripped of its rights, of its dignity –, of our machismo, of our racism, of our disregard for education and for material freedoms and isonomy.

It is important to emphasize, once again, that the animal farm it was used by capitalism and by the submissive machine operated by agents of capitalism around the world, as an anti-communist propaganda tool. This even happened in Brazil – the title was not free the animal revolution attributed to the first Brazilian edition, made public in 1964, the year in which, with the support of the national economic elite, the military dictatorship was installed in our country.

The book, in the lens that it projects, exposes the difficulty of the construction processes of an accurate reading of what is so difficult to see even though it is before our eyes, such as Brazilian structural inequality. It is not difficult to imagine who would be the pigs in the colonial reality of our country and who would be those who cannot escape, due to their inability to develop a critical conscience, the traps of precarious work, for example.

In the dissociation between the author's intention and the possible intention to be captured in the reading of the work, for everything already highlighted, lies the magic of literature, which, even though, in principle, not able to change the world, provokes reflections that affect our way of looking, of seeing, of questioning and understanding spaces that would not reveal themselves, in all their potentiality and chaos, in the face of another truth that was not fictional, fabled, literary. Therefore, in this edition, in this renewal, including the change of title of the work, there is a response to past attempts, recent or not, to attribute a reductionist reading of George Orwell's work, linking it, once again, to propaganda anticommunist, as an unsustainable moral element, by the way.

Finally, I still think the animal farm it is about the imperfections that become viable in the models implanted from the bourgeois revolution and the modus that surrounds it, always inclined to rearrangements – are the financial crises with serious repercussions already seen in the XNUMXst century. On the face of it, it is a work about fear and the inability to understand the prescriptions that grow in our progress, making it more difficult, more unfair, like the continuation of one of the fundamental characters in the story told by Orwell: the poor, and unconditionally engaged, horse named Boxer.

A book that is passing the time and can no longer be appropriated by retrograde looks and readings.

*Paul Scott is a poet and writer. Aauthor, among other books de unreal inhabitant (Alphaguara).

Reference


George Orwell. The Animal Farm: A Fairy Tale. Translation: Fabio Bonillo. Belo Horizonte, Autêntica, 2021, 160 pages.

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ISBN 978-65-5928-072-8

 

 

 

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