Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Orwell, George

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Working name of UK writer, journalist and polemicist Eric Arthur Blair (1903-1950). His sole work of pure fantasy is the short novel Animal Farm: A Fairy Story (1945 chap). This uses the Beast-Fable format as a vehicle for a savagely ironical Allegory of how socialist political ideals – which GO emphatically shared – became corrupted in the USSR. The animals of the eponymous farm revolt, expel their human master, and joyously outline a perfect society of comrades where "All animals are equal". But inexorably an administrative class emerges: the Pigs, who, led by "Napoleon" (Stalin), rapidly become a ruling class while still preaching equality. The master-stroke of political Satire is the debasement of the original Seven revolutionary Commandments to a single line: "All Animals Are Equal But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others." More viscerally moving, though, is the closing scene of Recognition in which the exploited animals see their porcine leaders – who have already taken to walking on two legs – entertaining other, human farmers, from whom they have become indistinguishable. Animal Farm's publication was bitterly resented by pro-communists who lacked what GO called his "power of facing unpleasant facts"; but the fable endures and has remained in print ever since. The movie Animal Farm (1955), while generally faithful to the novel, adds a final counter-revolution as Eucatastrophe.

GO also discussed the manipulation of Perception through language (see also Diction) in essays and in his famous dystopian sf novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), whose "Newspeak" is designed to impose linguistic Bondage by making dissident ideas impossible to formulate. A piercing clarity of thought and expression characterizes virtually all GO's work. [DRL]

other works: Orwell: The War Broadcasts (coll 1985) ed W J West includes GO's adaptation for BBC radio of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Emperor's New Clothes" (broadcast 1943).

Eric Arthur Blair


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.