Monday, March 15, 2010

Ian the Pontificator Is Breathless

...and no, for those of you who want to know, this is NOT the second part of my four-part series on how Alice in Wonderland fails.

I read Animal Farm over the weekend, and I have to say that I'm pretty astonished. I'll have to read it several more times before I catch everything, but my first time through left me pretty breathless.
Just...Orwell's ability to use animals to so accurately portray humanity--our psychological and intellectual processes--is pure art. The symbolism is hauntingly accurate, but it's never heavy-handed, and it's always open to interpretation. Animal Farm takes shots at religion, politics, ideologies, history, psychology--all at the same time. What a master!

I think part of what makes Animal Farm so amazing is its limited-omniscience third-person perspective. The narrator is not an animal on Animal Farm--the narrator does not speak in the first person. But the narrator does not know more about reality, about daily events, than the animals do. The limited-omniscience third-person style is difficult to write--I know from personal experience--and it's rare. But it does have a peculiarly immersive effect.

And then, of course, there's the final chapter, with its heartbreaking images of the meeting in the farmhouse, the blurring of reality, and that one Commandment up there on the wall...


What a book. I'm a fan.

Long live quiet amazement...

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