London, Friday April 13, 1945
Dear Mr Orwell,
I would like to thank you for kindly providing me the honourable opportunity to read the manuscript of your fairy story, Animal Farm.
Under the constraints of the current war economy however, I am afraid its mix of genres is not suitable for us, nor are its oddities in sentence construction such as ‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’ We sincerely apologise for being unable to determine a suitable genre for this book.
As a fairy tale, it would read rare; even more so when it comes to revolutionary songs such as ‘Beasts of England.’ Although the horse’s maxim ‘I will work harder’ certainly improves day-nursery pupils’ education, its merit is spoiled by unimaginative names, such as ‘Battle of the Cowshed’ or ‘Battle of the Windmill’. These fail to spark the innate curiosity and natural imagination of infants.
As a reading exercise for school children, the pigs would contradict what pupils are taught about normal behaviour at school (i.e. the behaviour of animals, in zoology.) As far as I remember scientific facts, normal pigs neither sleep in beds, nor drink whisky, nor carry whips, nor walk upright, nor wear clothes, nor teach The Seven Commandments of Animalism. That would read very confusing to good pupils. The manuscript would need extensive additional work on dunghills, beechnuts, grunts, and grubbing about (mating behaviour could be omitted, nonetheless); in order to make sense at a well-reputed school, much more muck would be necessary!
As an animal fable, it is too long, and the animals are too humanised. It also lacks profound references to ancient Greek tradition or medieval fables.
Last but not least, there might be a handful of odd, misled conservatives who tend to misinterpret the plot, unfortunately, as a satire against one of our important allies in this war (albeit a sensible citizen conscious of his responsibility understands this is not the case.) As a complete aside, all British writers are most welcome to enjoy the freedom of press. But, some writings are welcome to enjoy more of it than others; may I kindly remind you of the recent booklet by the Ministry of Information. I find it very instructive as to fears of the Soviet Union: Red Terror is nothing but a figment of Nazi imagination. I would like to suggest some minor rewrites, if I may, which I would find helpful before other publishers are approached.
Firstly, confusion shall be prevented. Are all animals equal, or are they not? What is the name of the farm: Manor Farm or Animal Farm? Changing names back and forth, as we go, would confuse the reader even more than a public-transport map of London.
Secondly, a simpler language shall be chosen. Why not for example, ‘The ten commandments’ instead of ‘Seven Commandments of Animalism.’
Thirdly, let’s not forget that the reaction, by some of our allies, might be a little bit touchy. E.g. the pigs caste in the manuscript might therefore be replaced by let’s say, aggressive German shepherd dogs (preferably, barking out of tune). Dogs are easier to humanise, in my personal opinion, and they would certainly underpin the morale of our people, now that all of us march in step, toward a new morning of our final grandiose victory.
P. C. Fiddlesticks, Senior Editor
on behalf of
In-line Publishing House Ltd.
London, West End, WC666
I would like to inform you that, in my spare time, I happen to be the treasurer of The Communist Party of Great Britain, as you might have noticed in the latest issue of our fully legal newspaper, The Morning Star.