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The Atlantic | 01Mar2012 | Andrea Chalupa

How 'Animal Farm' Gave Hope to Stalin's Refugees

An underground Ukrainian translation of George Orwell's subversive novel infiltrated postwar Europe's displaced persons camps.

Reading the introduction to Animal Farm by Christopher Hitchens a few years ago, I was stunned to learn that George Orwell, then a struggling writer in London, worked by letter with a group of refugees to publish the novel in Ukrainian in the displaced persons camps of postwar Europe.

The story of Orwell and the refugees was an incredible triumph of life amidst so much death and destruction. Between Stalin's terror famine and the Gulag, Hitler's concentration camps, the clash of Soviet and Nazi armies in World War II, it was as though hell had opened up across Eastern Europe. Sixty-five years ago this March, Orwell wrote a heartfelt letter to a group of Ukrainian refugees sharing in their solidarity of wanting to expose the incomprehensible evil of totalitarian regimes. The refugees turned the letter into Orwell's only published introduction to Animal Farm, and the only known personal account of how he developed the book that would be considered his masterpiece.

Hell was opened for over a decade -- for much of the '30s and the first half of the '40s. After Hitler was defeated, the terror continued behind the Iron Curtain -- resembling the 1984 that Orwell had warned about.

During Orwell's time, information was tightly controlled by a few known names at the top. These were the windmills he quixotically fought against: reading through the lines of mainstream dogma and rubbing the fog off the rosy glasses of his generation overly enamored with Stalin's strength, which they confused with the hopes and dreams of the Russian Revolution. When Stalin's approval rating in the West was at its highest, thanks to cheerleaders with international influence like Watler Duranty of the New York Times, George Bernard Shaw, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Stalin had already become one of the vilest mass murderers in history with the 1932-1933 terror famine in Ukraine. In this year that Stalin starved to death an estimated 6-10 million Ukrainians, Duranty won the Pulitzer Prize for his spineless coverage of Stalin and the Soviet Union was officially recognized and feted by the United States.

Like Winston daring to keep a journal in the Thought Police world of Oceania, Orwell forged ahead in finding a publisher in March 1944 for his first artistically driven novel, even though, as he said in a letter to a friend, it was "not O.K. politically." Animal Farm was rejected by four publishers, including his usual go-to Victor Gollancz. Jonathan Cape agreed to publish it but then backed out after consulting with "an important official in the Ministry of Information" who, unbeknownst to him, was a Soviet agent. Cape excused himself by expressing his fear that Stalin wouldn't like it. According to Orwell's close friend Inez Holden, who wrote in a 1967 letter that an amused Orwell had joked: "Imagine old Joe (who doesn't know one word of any European language) sitting in the Kremlin reading Animal Farm and saying 'I don't like this.'"

On behalf of Faber & Faber, T.S. Eliot wrote a rejection letter that lectured Orwell about being too hard on old Joe: "your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm."

"Stalin is sacrosanct," Orwell wrote of the prevailing ignorance in "Freedom of the Press," his essay chastising media self-censorship that had been "universally observed since 1941" and even "ten years earlier than that," he wrote. Orwell wanted this essay to be the introduction of Animal Farm, which he finally managed to publish with the small press Secker and Warburg that offered him £100 -- around $4,000 today -- but this preface for some reason was not included. (Perhaps the publisher didn't want to court more controversy).

Animal Farm came out in August of 1945, almost four months after the Nazis surrendered, and by the following February it had traveled east and was read by a young highly educated language and literature scholar 24-year-old Ihor Ševčenko, an unscathed refugee of Ukrainian origin who spent the final years of the war earning a doctorate at a university in Prague. Ševčenko was raised by parents who, during the Russian Revolution, helped lead a movement against the Bolsheviks for Ukraine's independence, and was drawn to the Ukrainian DP camps to help. There, he translated aloud in Ukrainian while reading Orwell's Animal Farm, a book he had recently picked up somewhere, to a transfixed audience. (Ševčenko learned English from listening to the BBC.) He wrote to Orwell on April 11, 1946, asking if he could publish his novel in Ukrainian for his "countrymen" to enjoy. Orwell agreed to write a preface, refused any royalties, and even tried to recruit his friend Arthur Koestler, author of the Soviet dystopian novel Darkness at Noon, writing, "I have been saying ever since 1945 that the DPs were a godsend opportunity for breaking down the wall between Russia and the West."

In over a year, Ševčenko produced his translation, and worked during the upheaval and violence of Soviet repatriation -- a dark episode of British and American history. To illustrate, think of the sinking sequence in James Cameron's Titanic: the passengers are the Soviet refugees, and the Titanic rising perpendicular to the ocean is the pact Roosevelt and Churchill made with Stalin at Yalta to return Soviet refugees by any means necessary. It would be an exchange for Western POWs. In the DP camps, American and British soldiers encountered mass suicides and fierce resistance, but managed to repatriate over 2 million Soviet citizens, most of whom were immediately executed or sent to labor camps upon arrival. Luckily, Ševčenko was born in an independent Poland, a nationality that did not fall under repatriation, and just as luckily, printing presses had sprouted up in the DP camps across the American Zone, where he worked.

One in Munich by the name of Prometej -- Prometheus in Ukrainian -- published his translation of Animal Farm; shipments of the book were quietly delivered to the other camps.

But only 2,000 copies were distributed; a truck from Munich was stopped and searched by American soldiers, and a shipment of an estimated 1,500 to 5,000 copies was seized. The books were quickly handed over to the Soviet repatriation authorities and destroyed.

Ševčenko was never questioned or held accountable; he had published under the pseudonym Ivan Cherniatyns'kyi -- a combination of his father's first name and his mother's maiden name. In the years that followed, he pursued his second doctorate in Belgium, studying Byzantine history under eminent scholar Henri Grégoire, which set him on the path to becoming a world renowned scholar of Byzantine and Slavic history.
Orwell was pleased with the quality of Ševčenko's work. As he wrote to Koestler, the Ukrainian translation had been "reasonably well-printed and got up, and, so far as I could judge by my correspondence with Ševčenko, well translated." He was deeply disappointed that the books were seized and wanted to avoid another incident like that when working, in 1949, with the anti-Soviet literary and political weekly Possev to smuggle translations of Animal Farm in Russian into the Soviet Zone.

As for the copies of the Ukrainian edition did survive in the DP camps, they circulated among a population charged with a revived revolutionary spirit. Ševčenko described the Ukrainian DPs to Orwell in a letter, "Their situation and past, causes them to sympathise with Trotskyites, although there are several differences between them." The major difference being a staunchly anti-communist stance.

While working on a screenplay about Stalin's terror famine in Ukraine that, from 1932-1933, starved to death an estimated 10 million people -- my grandfather nearly one of them -- I read Orwell's Animal Farm for much-needed inspiration. My script was beyond depressing for showing the mass murder Stalin got away with thanks to the help of some of the most brilliant media minds of that era. Upon learning about the Ukrainian translation of Animal Farm, I decided to make it the happy ending to my depressing screenplay about Stalin's famine in Ukraine.

After finishing my screenplay with its new ending, I had dinner at the home of my uncle Vitalji Keis, a retired literary professor for Rutgers, and told him about my project. He had escaped the Soviet Union with his family through the Eastern Front and spent years in the DP camp Heidenau. His first six months in Germany, he lived in a hospital in Hamburg, because he didn't know how to live in the peace and quiet of peacetime. Nine years old, he had developed a constant nervous tick and had to be rehabilitated.

His response to my screenplay pitch was nonchalant, "I have that book. I first read Orwell in the DP camp. We still have it somewhere." My aunt, Tanya Keis, a retired librarian for Barnard College, had also escaped Soviet Ukraine. She jumped up from the table, went into their library, and came back with a copy of Orwell's bootlegged Animal Farm. "Here, this is for you," she said, handing me this thin yellowed delicate pamphlet with a stapled binding. The title read in Ukrainian Kolhosp Tvaryn -- the collective farm -- an obvious reference to Stalin's forced collectivization enforced by the terror famine. The cover was an earthy red, green, and brown illustration of an exhausted, run-down Boxer the horse pulling a cart in the background, and in the foreground rested a menacing pig, whip in hand. The Orwellian image of one class exploiting the other.

The scene Hitchens had painted about Orwell and the refugees seemed like the literary equivalent of the tale of Prometheus. Orwell, this Englishman -- a god-like symbol of Western comfort -- handed the suffering the light of truth, illuminating their humanity. But as I discovered from research and interviewing members of my family, despite the constant fear of repatriation, a renaissance flourished in the Ukrainian DP camps.

My uncle had first learned about Kolhosp Tvaryn and Orwell in school, where his favorite teacher told his class to read it. So my uncle picked up a copy in the canteen.

But Orwell's masterpiece was just one of many that were bootlegged and distributed in a cultural revival that included traveling theater and ballet troupes, Shakespearian performances in Ukrainian, opera and piano instruction for children, public art galleries with classes and lectures, crafty masquerade balls and dances, pan-DP camp artistic conferences, publications of political and literary journals and libraries full of anti-communist ideology, and a strict school system with scheduled study hours. By the time my uncle immigrated to New York at the age of fourteen, he had already learned calculus, Greek and Latin philosophy, introductory physics and chemistry, botany, and zoology. His DP camp courses were recognized by the state of New York, which required him to only take American history, English language classes, and gym.

"You can't keep intellectuals down," he said. "There were so many artists and creative people [in the Ukrainian DP camps]. Immediately, they started producing."

After five years of living in Heidenau -- living the life of an "endless summer camp" -- he and his family immigrated to the East Village, and one of the first things they did was help open a literary press.

George Orwell's preface (in Ukrainian) to "Kolhosp Tvaryn"


Я отримав прохання написати передмову для перекладу «Animal Farm» на українську мову. Я добре свідомий того, що пишу для читачів, про яких нічого не знаю, та й вони, мабуть, ніколи не мали нагоди довідатись про мене.

Від мене, мабуть, чекають, щоб я розповів у цій передмові, як появився мій «Колгосп Тварин». Перед цим мені доведеться сказати дещо про себе та про події, що крізь них я дійшов до моїх політичних поглядів.

Народився я в Індії у 1903 році. Мій батько був урядовцем англійського адміністративного апарату в Індії, а моя родина, була звичайною собі родиною з тих, що становлять середню верству, себто ту верству, що її членами е військові, священники, урядовці, вчителі, правники, лікарі, тощо. Освіту одержав у Eton, в найкоштовнішій та найбільш снобістичній з англійських public schooly. (Це не прилюдні „народні школи", а якраз щось протилежне: закриті дорогі середні школи з інтернатами, розташовані далеко від міст. До недавнього часу туди приймали майже виключно синів багатих шляхетських родин. Мрією свіжо розбагатілих банкирів 19 ст. було пропхати своїх синків у public school. У школах тих кладуть в великій мірі натиск на спорт, що, мовляв, виробляє панівну, тверду та джентльменську поставу. Між цими школами Eton -- особливо славиться. Велінґтон буцімто, сказав, що перемога під Ватерлоо виборена на крікетових грищах Eton. Недавно ще -- величезний відсоток людей, що так чи інакше керували Англією, -- були вихованці public schools. -- пр. перекл.) Проте, я попав туди тільки тому, що був стипендистом. Інакше мої батьки не змогли б мене вчити у школі цього типу.

Швидко після закінчення школи (мені не було ще тоді повних двадцяти років) я виїхав у Бурму і вступив у лави Імперіяльної Поліції в Індії. Це була озброєна поліція чи пак жандармерія, щось дуже подібна на еспанську Guardia Civil чи Guarde Mobile у Франції. На цій службі пробув я п’ять років. Вона була мені не до вподоби і сповнила ненависти до імперіялізму, хоч у той час націоналістичні настрої в Бурмі не відзначались особливою силою, а відношення англійців до бурманців не було особливо пагане. Повернувшись в 1927 р. до Англії у відпустку, я відмовився від старшинського чину і вирішив стати письменником; на початку без особливих успіхів. В 1928-1929 р. р. жив у Парижі й писав повісті, яких ніхто не хотів друкувати (я їх потім усі понищив). У наступні роки жив як щастило, і нераз голод заглядав мені в вічі. Тільки починаючи з 1934 року, зміг утримуватись з заробітків за власні твори. У переходові роки я, бувало, цілими місяцями жив між біднотою, між півзлочинними елементами, що мешкають у найгірших частинах бідних кварталів або снуються по дорогах, жебраючи чи крадучи. Часто через брак грошей мені доводилось перебувати між ними; а втім їхнє життя дуже мене цікавило. Кілька років я посвятив (на цей раз більш систематично) вивченню умовин побуту й праці шахтарів у північній Англії. Більш-менш до 1930 року я не вважав себе за соціяліста. По суті я не мав тоді ясно окреслених політичних поглядів. Я став соціялістом більш через відразу до знедоленого, занедбаного життя бідніших частин промислового робітництва, ніж через теоретичне захоплення пляновим суспільством.

У 1936 році я одружився. Майже того самого тижня почалася громадянська війна в Еспанії. Ми обоє з дружиною виявили бажання поїхати до Еспанії та взяти учать у війні по боці еспанського уряду. Ми зробили це через півроку, коли я закінчив працю над книжкою, що її якраз тоді писав. В Еспанії я пробув біля шости місяців на арагонському фронті, поки мені біля Huesca фашистівський снайпер не прострелив шиї.

У ранньому періоді війни чужинцеві нелегко було розібратися у внутрішній боротьбі, що точилася між ріжними політичними партіями, прихильними до уряду. Через ряд випадкових подій я вступив, як більшість чужинців в Еспанії, не до міжнародньої бригади, а до міліції Р. О. V. М., до т. зв. еспанських троцькістів. Таким чином в половині 1937 р., коли комуністи здобули контролю (чи часткову контролю) над еспанським урядом і почалося переслідування троцкістів, ми  обоє з дружиною опинились між переслідуваними. Ми справді мали щастя, що нам вдалося покинути Еспанію живими та ще й не бувши ні разу арештованими; багато з поміж наших друзів розстріляно, інші просиділи довгий час по в’язницях чи просто позникали. Ці переслідування в Еспанії йшли поруч з великими чистками в СССР і були лише їх відгомоном. Суть обвинувачень — (а саме: змова з фашистами) була тут і там однакова; коли йшлося про Еспанію, я мав повні основи знати, що ці обвинувачення неправдиві. Увесь цей досвід був для мене цінною наукою: він показав мені як легко тоталістичній пропаганді керувати опінією освічених верств у демократичних країнах.

Ми обоє з дружиною були свідками, як невинних людей кидали у в’язниці тільки тому, що їх запідозрювали в неправовірних почуваннях. А повернувшсь в Англію, ми побачили, що порівнюючи розсудливі й добре інформовані обсерватори вірять в усякі неймовірні оповідання про змови, зраду та саботажі, про які інформувала преса з московської судової залі.

Я тоді збагнув, ясніше як до того, -- негативний вплив Совітського міту на західній соціялістичний рух.

Та тут варто спинитись і окреслити моє становище до совєтського режиму.

Я ніколи не був у Росії і знаю про неї тільки те, що можна довідатись читаючи книжки та часописи. Коли б навіть (уявімо це собі) я мав силу, я не бажав би собі втручатися у совєтські внутрішні справи; я не засуджував Сталіна та його прибічників тільки за те, що вони, мовляв, стосували варварські та недемократичні методи. Воно зовсім можливе, що в тамошніх обставинах вони не могли діяти інакше, навіть, коли й у них були добрі наміри.

Та мені незвичайно залежить на тому, щоб люди на Заході, Европи побачили совєтський режим таким, яким він є. Більш-менш від 1930 р. я не бачу жадної ознаки, що СССР дійсно поступає в напрямку чогось, що можна б обосновано назвати соціалізмом, зате я помічаю дуже багато ознак, що СССР перетворився в гієрархічне суспільство, де володарі мають не більше причин відректися від влади, як яканебудь інша панівна кляса. Назагал робітники та інтеліґенти у країні такій як Англія не розуміють, що СССР сьогодні зовсім інший як у 1917 році частково тому, що не хочуть цього зрозуміти (себто тому, що хочуть вірити, що насправді соціялістична країна десь таки існує), а частково також тому, що відносна свобода і мирність їхнього життя робить тоталізм для них незрозумілим.

Не треба думати, що Англія -- справжня демократія. Це капіталістична країна з великими класовими привілеями та (навіть зараз, після війни, що підвела всіх під одну мірку) поважними ріжницями жодо багатства. З другого боку, це країна, де люди вже живуть сотні років укупі і не знають громадянської війни, де закони відносно справедливі, а вісткам і статистикам можна порівнюючи йняти віри, і, нарешті, -- де мати опозиційні погляди та висловлювати їх прилюдно не зв’язане з небезпекою. У цій атмосфері середня людина не має дійсного зрозуміння що таке концтабори, масові депортації, ув’язнення без процесу, цензура преси, тощо. Коли вона читає про події в країні такій, як Совєтський Союз, вона перекладає все на мову англійських уявлень і не враховує безсоромної забріханости тоталістичної пропаґанди. Аж до 1939 р., а може ще пізніше, більшість англійського народу неспроможна була розгадати суті нацистівського режиму в Німеччині, а коли йдеться про совєтський режим, -- вони у великій мірі оманені й досі.

Це заподіяло поважну шкоду соціалістичному рухові в Англії, а посередні наслідки такої настанови для англійської закордонної політики -- жахливі. На мою думку, ніщо так не привело до перекручення давнього, спертого на однаковому всюди розумінні, поняття соціалізму, як погляд, що Росія -- соціалістична країна і що кожен вчинок володарів Росії заслуговує вибачення, коли не наслідування.

Тимто за останніх 10 років в мене виробилось переконання, що коли хочемо відродити соціялістичний рух, то знищення совєтського міту є необхідною передумовою для цього.

Незабаром після повернення з Еспанії прийшло мені на думку виступити проти совєтського міту, вживаючи казкової форми, доступної майже кожному читачеві, і що легко можна б перекласти на чужі мови. Такі міркування, трохи неясні, приходили мені вже від деякого часу в голову, коли одного дня (жив я тоді якраз у малому селі) я побачив як малий, може десятилітній, хлопець гнав по вузькій доріжці величезну їзджалу коняку та лупцював її як тільки вона хотіла. звертати у бік. Мені майнуло крізь голову, що коли б тільки оці тварини усвідомили собі свою міць, ми не були б в силі над ними панувати, та що людина визискує тварин майже так само, як багаті кляси визискують пролетаріят.

Продовжуючи прогульку, я взявся перекладати теорію Маркса на мову тваринячих понять. З тваринячої точки погляду, міркував я, клясова боротьба між людьми -- чиста омана: коли треба визискувати тварин -- усі люди в союзі між собою. Правдива боротьба йде між тваринами й людьми. Здобувши таку вихідну: точку, не важко було побудувати казку. Я не записував її аж до 1943 року, бо інша праця завжди віднімала в мене час. Вкінці а включив у неї деякі події, наприклад, конференцію в Тегерані, що тим часом відбулася. Проте, головні нариси оповідання були чітко накреслені в моїй уяві ще за шість років до їх літературного опрацювання.

Не хочу писати коментаря до оповідання; коли воно само по собі незрозуміле, то є це літературний неуспіх. А втім я хотів, би підкреслити дві точки. Ось перша: окремі епізоди, хоч і, назагал, вірно переспівують історію революції, не тільки спрощені, а й поперемішувані під хронологічним оглядом. Це було необхідно для симетричної побудови оповідання. На другу точку більшість критиків не звернули уваги, може тому, що й я сам не поклав на неї відповідного натиску. Багато читачів закрили книжку під враженням; що вона кінчається цілковитим помиренням між свиньми та людськими істотами. Та не такий був мій намір -- навпаки, я нарочито закінчив оповідання гучною бучею. Писав я безпосередньо після тегеранської конференції, що, як усі думали, встановила ліпші відносини між СССР та Заходом. Я особисто не вірив, що ті дружні відносини довго потривають. І, як оказалося, не дуже помилявся.

Не знаю, чи треба мені ще щось казати. Коли ще хто бажає собі подробиць про мене, добавлю, що я удовець і маю майже трьохлітнього сина і що за фахом я письменник та від початку війни заробляю перш за все журналістикою.

Часопис, що до нього найпостійніше дописую -- це «Tribune», політично-суспільний тижневик, що репрезентує, загально кожучи, ліве крило Labour Party. Ось мої книжки, що можуть зацікавити ширший загал (це на випадок, коли б комусь з читачів цієї передмови довелось надибати примірники цих книжок): «Дні в Бурмі» (повість про Бурму); «Поклін Каталонії» (звіт з моїх досвідів у еспанській громадянській війні); «Критичні спроби» (есеї, переважно про сучасну популярну англійську літературу, насвітлення в них. більш соціологічне як літературне). 

[Geo. Orwell]

George Orwell's preface (in English) to "Kolhosp Tvaryn"

Preface to the Ukrainian Edition of Animal Farm

by George Orwell
March 1947

I have been asked to write a preface to the Ukrainian translation of Animal Farm. I am aware that I write for readers about whom I know nothing, but also that they too have probably never had the slightest opportunity to know anything about me.

In this preface they will most likely expect me to say something of how Animal Farm originated but first I would like to say something about myself and the experiences by which I arrived at my political position.

I was born in India in 1903. My father was an official in the English administration there, and my family was one of those ordinary middle-class families of soldiers, clergymen, government officials, teachers, lawyers, doctors, etc. I was educated at Eton, the most costly and snobbish of the English Public Schools.* But I had only got in there by means of a scholarship; otherwise my father could not have afforded to send me to a school of this type.

Shortly after I left school (I wasn't quite twenty years old then) I went to Burma and joined the Indian Imperial Police. This was an armed police, a sort of gendarmerie very similar to the Spanish Guardia Civil or the Garde Mobile in France. I stayed five years in the service. It did not suit me and made me hate imperialism, although at that time nationalist feelings in Burma were not very marked, and relations between the English and the Burmese were not particularly unfriendly. When on leave in England in 1927, I resigned from the service and decided to become a writer: at tirst without any especial success. In 1928-9 I lived in Paris and wrote short stories and novels that nobody would print (I have since destroyed them all). In the following years I lived mostly from hand to mouth, and went hungry on several occasions. It was only from 1934 onwards that I was able to live on what I earned from my writing. In the meantime I sometimes lived for months on end amongst the poor and half-criminal elements who inhabit the worst parts of the poorer quarters, or take to the streets, begging and stealing. At that time I associated with them through lack of money, but later their way of life interested me very much for its own sake. I spent many months (more systematically this time) studying the conditions of the miners in the north of England. Up to 19301 did not on the whole look upon myself as a Socialist. In fact I had as yet no clearly defined political views. I became pro-Socialist more out of disgust with the way the poorer section of the industrial workers were oppressed and neglected than out of any theoretical admiration for a planned society.

In 1936 I got married. In almost the same week the civil war broke out in Spain. My wife and I both wanted to go to Spain and fight for the Spanish Government. We were ready in six months, as soon as I had finished the book I was writing. In Spain I spent almost six months on the Aragon front until, at Huesca, a Fascist sniper shot me through the throat.

In the early stages of the war foreigners were on the whole unaware of the inner struggles between the various political parties supporting the Government. Through a series of accidents I joined not the International Brigade like the majority of foreigners, but the POUM militia -- i.e. the Spanish Trotskyists.

So in the middle of 1937, when the Communists gained control (or partial control) of the Spanish Government and began to hunt down the Trotskyists, we both found ourselves amongst the victims. We were very lucky to get out of Spain alive, and not even to have been arrested once. Many of our friends were shot, and others spent a long time in prison or simply disappeared.

These man-hunts in Spain went on at the same time as the great purges in the USSR and were a sort of supplement to them. In Spain as well as in Russia the nature of the accusations (namely, conspiracy with the Fascists) was the same and as far as Spain was concerned I had every reason to believe that the accusations were false. To experience all this was a valuable object lesson: it taught me how easily totalitarian propaganda can control the opinion of enlightened people in democratic countries.

My wife and I both saw innocent people being thrown into prison merely because they were suspected of unorthodoxy. Yet on our return to England we found numerous sensible and well-informed observers believing the most fantastic accounts of conspiracy, treachery and sabotage which the press reported from the Moscow trials.

And so I understood, more clearly than ever, the negative influence of the Soviet myth upon the western Socialist movement.

And here I must pause to describe my attitude to the Soviet regime.

I have never visited Russia and my knowledge of it consists only of what can be learned by reading books and newspapers. Even if I had the power, I would not wish to interfere in Soviet domestic affairs: I would not condemn Stalin and his associates merely for their barbaric and undemocratic methods. It is quite possible that, even with the best intentions, they could not have acted otherwise under the conditions prevailing there.

But on the other hand it was of the utmost importance to me that people in western Europe should see the Soviet regime for what it really was. Since 1930 I had seen little evidence that the USSR was progressing towards anything that one could truly call Socialism. On the contrary, I was struck by clear signs of its transformation into a hierarchical society, in which the rulers have no more reason to give up their power than any other ruling class. Moreover, the workers and intelligentsia in a country like England cannot understand that the USSR of today is altogether different from what it was in 1917. It is partly that they do not want to understand (i.e. they want to believe that, somewhere, a really Socialist country does actually exist), and partly that, being accustomed to comparative freedom and moderation in public life, totalitarianism is completely incomprehensible to them.

Yet one must remember that England is not completely democratic. It is also a capitalist country with great class privileges and (even now, after a war that has tended to equalise everybody) with great differences in wealth. But nevertheless it is a country in which people have lived together for several hundred years without major conflict, in which the laws are relatively just and official news and statistics can almost invariably be believed, and, last but not least, in which to hold and to voice minority views does not involve any mortal danger. In such an atmosphere the man in the street has no real understanding of things like concentration camps, mass deportations, arrests without trial, press censorship, etc. Everything he reads about a country like the USSR is automatically translated into English terms, and he quite innocently accepts the lies of totalitarian propaganda. Up to 1939, and even later, the majority of English people were incapable of assessing the true nature of the Nazi regime in Germany, and now, with the Soviet regime, they are still to a large extent under the same sort of illusion.

This has caused great harm to the Socialist movement in England, and had serious consequences for English foreign policy. Indeed, in my opinion, nothing has contributed so much to the corruption of the original idea of Socialism as the belief that Russia is a Socialist country and that every act of its rulers must be excused, if not imitated.

And so for the past ten years I have been convinced that the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the Socialist movement.

On my return from Spain I thought of exposing the Soviet myth in a story that could be easily understood by almost anyone and which could be easily translated into other languages. However, the actual details of the story did not come to me for some time until one day (I was then living in a small village) I saw a little boy, perhaps ten years old, driving a huge cart-horse along a narrow path, whipping it whenever it tried to turn. It struck me that if only such animals became aware of their strength we should have no power over them, and that men exploit animals in much the same way as the rich exploit the proletariat.

I proceeded to analyse Marx's theory from the animals' point of view. To them it was clear that the concept of a class struggle between humans was pure illusion, since whenever it was necessary to exploit animals, all humans united against them: the true struggle is between animals and humans. From this point of departure, it was not difficult to elaborate the story. I did not write it out till 1943, for I was always engaged on other work which gave me no time; and in the end I included some events, for example the Teheran Conference, which were taking place while I was writing. Thus the main outlines of the story were in my mind over a period of six years before it was actually written.

I do not wish to comment on the work; if it does not speak for itself, it is a failure. But I should like to emphasise two points: first, that although the various episodes are taken from the actual history of the Russian Revolution, they are dealt with schematically and their chronological order is changed; this was necessary for the symmetry of the story. The second point has been missed by most critics, possibly because I did not emphasise it sufficiently. A number of readers may finish the book with the impression that it ends in the complete reconciliation of the pigs and the humans. That was not my intention; on the contrary I meant it to end on a loud note of discord, for I wrote it immediately after the Teheran Conference which everybody thought had established the best possible relations between the USSR and the West. I personally did not believe that such good relations would last long; and as events have shown, I wasn't far wrong.

I don't know what more I need add. If anyone is interested in personal details, I should add that I am a widower with a son almost three years old, that by profession I am a writer, and that since the beginning of the war I have worked mainly as a journalist.

The periodical to which I contribute most regularly is Tribune, a sociopolitical weekly which represents, generally speaking, the left wing of the Labour Party. The following of my books might most interest the ordinary reader (should any reader of this translation find copies of them): Burmese Days (a story about Burma), Homage to Catalonia (arising from my experiences in the Spanish Civil War), and Critical Essays (essays mainly about contemporary popular English literature and instructive more from the sociological than from the literary point of view).

* These are not public 'national schools', but something quite the opposite: exclusive and expensive residential secondary schools, scattered far apart. Until recently they admitted almost no one but the sons of rich aristocratic families. It was the dream of nouveau riche bankers of the nineteenth century to push their sons into a Public School. At such schools the greatest stress is laid on sport, which forms, so to speak, a lordly, tough and gentlemanly outlook. Among these schools, Eton is particularly famous. Wellington is reported to have said that the victory of Waterloo was decided on the playing fields of Eton. It is not so very long ago that an overwhelming majority of the people who in one way or another ruled England came from the Public School. [Orwell's footnote.]