It is especially remarkable that Ball could be confused as to what Orwell was getting at, because, whatever his underlying political bent, the novels are extraordinarily straightforward. Animal Farm does not so much hint at being a critique of Stalinist Russia as it beats its readers over the head with the idea over and over again. It is allegorical and abstract, yes. But in much the same way as were Victorian vaudeville acts — sufficiently pointed to leave the casual audience in no doubt who was being sent up; archetypal enough to avoid the censor’s red ink.
Orwell, an early critic claimed in The New Republic, was “saying in a clumsy way things that have been said better directly.” This is unfair. Orwell made no bones whatsoever about what he was doing, writing to his friend and translator Yvonne Davet that his work was “un conte satirique contre Staline” (a satirical tale against Stalin). Initially, such bluntness worked against him. In February 1944, in which month Orwell finished his final draft, the Soviet Union was still helping the allied forces fight Hitler, and, the Cold War having not yet started, nobody on the anti-fascist side much felt like publishing a broadside. With the descent of the Iron Curtain, the book turned into a roaring success. It is beyond embarrassing that Ball cannot grasp why this was.