I haven't read Animal Farm since I taught it two years ago, but the other day I found myself thinking about the book, and recalling two teachers from Belarus who visited my old school. They traveled with half a dozen of their students to NYC as part of an exchange program with our school and stayed for about a week and a half.
While they were here I was teaching Orwell's Animal Farm. The guy teacher, whose names escapes me unfortunately, sat and listened for the entire day, as I covered the same material three times. As a courtesy I gave him a copy of the book so he could follow along with the passages we were reading. He came back for some, or all, of every day we discussed the book. He never joined the conversation but spent the entire time copying the text into his notebook.
When I found out what he was doing I urged him to take the book with him, to take copies enough for his students, even. But he said that he'd never get it out of the airport and that he would probably get in trouble for trying, but having it buried in his notebook meant that he had the book. He couldn't believe such a book existed and I quietly marveled to myself that he didn't already know about it. And then marveled at what I take for granted.
I think of him often, head down in concentration, one hand writing away and the other marking his place. And I wonder where his notebook is, who has read it, and how it's simmering somewhere over there. Waiting.