Title: Burmese Days
Author: George Orwell
Page Count/Review Word Count: 272
Let’s face it – we all know that George Orwell isn’t a man to be messed with. He fought for the Republicans in Spain in 1937 and was injured, and he wrote Animal Farm and 1984, two of the most recognised political novels ever written.
With that in mind, let’s jump straight in with the racism. Orwell’s Burmese Days follows the story of Flory, a British ex-pat serving his time in Burma, where Orwell himself served as a police officer. In inimitable style, he explores the hypocrisy of the British gentleman, making no pretense about the casual racism that they displayed towards the natives – nor does he make a defence.
In fact, if you’re not prepared for the casualness with which early (white) 20th century writers used the word ‘nigger‘, this book probably isn’t for you. But Orwell doesn’t do this to shock, nor because he genuinely believes in any negative sentiment – this was a commonly held attitude, and one that faded away during the equal rights movements of the 50s and 60s.
At it’s basic level, Burmese Days is a well-written tale of love, revenge and the hot summer sun. Though it’s slow to start, the reader develops a connection to the characters and is keen to see the story through to its bitter end. And, without intending to reveal any spoilers, I can assure you that that’s exactly what you’ll get.
But don’t let that put you off – Burmese Days is excellent, and well-worth reading if you’re a fan of Orwell, Greene or Hemingway.