Animal Farm, as its author later wrote, "was the first book in which I tried, with full consciousness of what I was doing, to fuse political purpose and artistic purpose into one whole"
. . 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 . . . 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 carthorse 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.
Well, authors don’t normally succeed in their intentions but George Orwell certainly pulled it off in Animal Farm. He went further in establishing a different myth - that of the revolution that goes wrong. You could represent Animal Farm in stained glass. The downtrodden rising up in their earthly hell of servitude and pulling down their old masters. Then the new masters taking over from the old and the downtrodden returning to their former state of serfdom.
There is, however, one very salient omission. There is a Stalin pig and a Trotsky pig, but no Lenin pig. Similarly, in Nineteen Eighty-Four we find only a Big Brother Stalin and an Emmanuel Goldstein Trotsky. Nobody appears to have pointed this out at the time (and if I may say so, nobody but myself has done so since; it took me years to notice what was staring me in the face).
That might have been for artistic rather than political reasons. You need a power struggle, but two struggling are enough. It would be like adding another Satan to Eden.
In Zimbabwe, as the rule of Robert Mugabe's kleptocratic clique became ever more exorbitant, an opposition newspaper took the opportunity to reprint Animal Farm in serial form. It did so without comment, except that one of the accompanying illustrations showed Napoleon the dictator wearing the trademark black horn-rimmed spectacles of Zimbabwe's own leader. The offices of the newspaper were soon afterwards blown up by a weapons-grade bomb, but before too long Zimbabwean children, also, will be able to appreciate the book in its own right.
In the Islamic world, many countries continue to ban Animal Farm, ostensibly because of its emphasis on pigs. Clearly this can not be the whole reason – if only because the porcine faction is rendered in such an unfavourable light – and under the theocratic despotism of Iran it is forbidden for reasons having to do with its message of "revolution betrayed".
There can be no real sequel to Animal Farm, but you could do a coda of how on some of the neighbouring farms, rumours of the animals’ success emboldened other animals into asking for more feed and less work and scared the owners into giving into those demands, for fear of revolution. Not a total loss then.