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Pigs still rule the farm

(Photograph) - Animal Farm is 50 years old. Secker and Warburg, who had the foresight to publish Orwell's allegorical satire (after it had been rejected by many rivals, including Gollancz and Faber) are celebrating the anniversary with a new edition. Ralph Steadman has contributed bold double-page coloured illustrations and small line drawings which emphasise the viciousness of the pigs' regime.

The top dressing of fairy story is missing; instead we have animal politician-farmers as brutalised as Steadman's human politician caricatures. The story stands up as well as it ever did; Stalin may be old history, but subsequent regimes and human greed and ambition keep its message up to date. It remains an excellent way to introduce young readers both to allegory and to literary satire while bringing in a good deal of history in the course of a tense and humorous narrative.

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