T S Eliot didn’t like Animal Farm

Who knew? He turned the book down for Faber (where he worked) because of a perceived paucity of “public spirited pigs”. (‘Paucity’. See what I did there?) Full marks to Eliot, though, for maximum crustiness and point-missing:

In the letter, Eliot argued that Orwell’s “view, which I take to be Trotskyite, is not convincing.” … Eliot seems to imply that if Orwell’s intention is to convince the reader of the logic of Trotksyism over Stalinism, the more sensible authorial decision would be to have “more public spirited pigs” … “I think you split your vote, without getting any compensating strong adhesion from either party – ie those who criticise Russian tendencies from the point of view of a purer communism, and those who, from a very different point of view, are alarmed about the fate of small nations,” wrote Eliot.

I’m toying with getting a rubber stamp and ink set made bearing the legend ‘the more sensible authorial decision would be to have more public spirited pigs’, with which to stamp UG creative work. And, no, I’m not entirely sure what Eliot meant by that last quoted sentence either. (Presumably ‘small nations’ like, er, the USA. Or the British Empire.) [AR]


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