George Orwell festival 2011, 9th-18th September 2011
I'm speaking about 'Orwell on the Farm' at this festival, in a symposium called 'What Did Orwell Ever Do For Us?' Is should be a great event. You can see the programme here. Here's a brief summary of what I'm going to be talking about:
Animal Farm is one of Orwell’s most enduring works, and it is rightly read as an allegory of the Russian revolution. But was it only an allegory, or was Orwell also interested in book’s more ostensible subject, the proper management of a farm? Various evidence from Orwell’s life and work suggest that he was indeed deeply interested in the ethics of agriculture – from his patient attempts to establish himself as a smallholding farmer, recorded in his domestic diaries, to his hatred of industrialised food: ‘making sausages out of fish, and fish, no doubt, out of something different’, as George Bowling puts it in Coming Up for Air. Orwell was expressing concerns about the industrialisation of agriculture both in the capitalist West and – perhaps crucially – in Stalin’s brutal collectivisation drive in the USSR, which he heard about in detail from his friend Malcolm Muggeridge. Agriculture is a key political issue for Orwell, and this paper will show that he shares some of the concerns of the organic movement, whose first theorists were his close contemporaries.