Monday, May 14, 2018

The Struggle for "Animal Farm"

Orwell found it surprisingly difficult to get Animal Farm published, in part because of Soviet moles. He had warned Victor Gollancz, the left-wing publisher who had issued Orwell's books from 1933 to 1939, from Down and Out to Coming Up for Air, that Gollancz would not like it and would not publish it. Nonsense, replied Gollancz, who had turned down Orwell only once, declining to publish Homage to Catalonia. But after reading the new manuscript, he quickly returned it with a note that Orwell had indeed been correct. He wrote to Orwell's literary agent, "I could not possibly publish . . . a general attack of this nature."

At least four other British publishers also rejected the book, including T.S. Eliot, then an editor at Faber, who found the story too Trotskyite for his taste. He also found that the pigs were "far more intelligent than the other animals and therefore the best qualified to run the farm." One house, Jonathan Cape, was inclined to publish the book, but decided against doing so after being warned off by Peter Smollett, then head of the Russian section at the British Ministry of Information, who expressed concern that the book might damage Anglo-Soviet relations. Smollett was revealed years later to have been a Soviet agent, recruited by Kim Philby.

- From Churchill & Orwell: The Fight for Freedom by Thomas E. Ricks

No comments: