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Orwell: Animal Farm

5. Narrative Voice

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In this module, we think about the narrative voice of Animal Farm, focusing in particular on: (i) the humour in Orwell's writing, e.g. the description of Napoleon's hangover; (ii) Orwell's views on the slipperiness of political language – in his essay 'Politics and the English Language', in Animal Farm, and in Nineteen-Eighty Four, where it has become formalised as Newspeak; (iii) the pigs' rejection of mysticism, which contrasts with the use of Biblical language and turns of phrase in Orwell's prose; and (iv) the extent to which the use of passive grammatical constructions (i.e. sentences expressed in the passive voice) reflect the shady power structures of Animal Farm itself.


In this course, Dr Nathan Waddell (University of Birmingham) explores George Orwell's Animal Farm. In the first module, we think about Animal Farm in the context of Orwell's life and career, before turning in the second and third modules to consider the novel in the context of the Spanish Civil War and Soviet Russia, respectively. In the fourth module, we think about what kind of story Animal Farm is, while in the fifth module, we consider the novel's narrative voice. In the sixth module, we think about the themes of tyranny and circularity in the novel, before turning in the final module to consider the concept of 'decency' in Orwell's work in general and in Animal Farm in particular.


Dr Nathan Waddell is Senior Lecturer in Early Twentieth-Century and Modernist Literature at the University of Birmingham. He teaches and researches early twentieth-century literature, with a core emphasis on the life, work, and controversies of the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). His recent publications include Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism (2019) and (as co-editor with J. Greenberg) 'Brave New World': Contexts and Legacies. (2016).

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Waddell, N. (2021, May 12). Orwell: Animal Farm - Narrative Voice [Video]. MASSOLIT.

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Waddell, N. "Orwell: Animal Farm – Narrative Voice." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 12 May 2021,

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