Public-Spirited Pigs

by wjw on March 30, 2009

George Orwell’s Animal Farm was rejected by Faber & Faber before being published a years later by another publisher.

The editor who wrote the rejection was TS Eliot.

“Eliot wrote: “After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore the best qualified to run the farm – in fact there couldn’t have been an Animal Farm at all without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs.””

robp March 30, 2009 at 4:51 am

I don't see how Eliot's comment stands as a reason to reject the book; it makes far more sense as a reason to publish the book and let arguments ensue. Of course, it was a politically based rejection that took place during World War II, when Britain did not want to alienate Russia. And Orwell received three other rejections for Animal Farm before getting an acceptance, but stated that only one of the rejections was politically based. As Eliot claimed in his rejection that he liked the writing, Orwell's reference is clear.

Whether Faber & Faber might have published Animal Farm at a later date is unknown. Orwell received his rejection from Eliot in 1944; the book was published by Secker & Walburg in August 1945, three months after the end of the war in Europe.

Eliot's claimed reasons for rejection were thus probably dishonest and based in fear. As a patriot he probably deemed it unwise to publish anything that could be perceived as anti-Stalinist; neither could he tell Orwell that that was why he was rejecting the book.

Not that Orwell was likely to have agreed, intellectually or morally, with a rejection on that basis.

Ralf the Dog March 30, 2009 at 2:36 pm

I think it was because TS Eliot liked bacon.

Anonymous April 11, 2009 at 10:35 pm

The point is that pigs are never public-spirited.

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