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Burmese Days paints a very grim picture of colonial life in the early 20th century. Orwell obviously dislikes his fellow British compatriots - they are shown to be lazy, corrupt, racist and immoral. However his opinion of the Burmese is not much better, leading one to suppose that his time with the Indian Imperial Police must have been very miserable.
This is very much a book with no heroes - each character is flawed. The main protagonist is Flory, a timber merchant. He lives a fairly peaceful (if dissolute) life but when a young English woman appears in the town he hopes to encourage her into marriage. He casts aside his Burmese mistress without a thought - an action that will come back to haunt him. Elizabeth's guardians have Flory in mind as a suitor but he in turn is painfully cast aside when the aristocratic Verrell arrives.
Throughout the book Orwell describes the lack of respect shown to the native people. Much of the language used in the dialogue is (to the modern reader) shocking but understandable. However I was much less comfortable with his general descriptions. The butler at the club is described as having liquid yellow-irised eyes "like those of a dog" and a woman is described as "simian".
The narrative flows at a good pace and there are some episodes of real excitement. Burmese Days offers a vivid and unsentimental picture of a lost era.
I didn't expect to enjoy this, but it is beautifully written. You can feel the clamminess of Flory's 'sweat-damp bed', smell the vegetation and sense the suffocation of both the jungle, the climate and the stifling colonial snobbery. It is vivid with the colour of plants, and eastern clothing, a paradise spoiled by pretentious British officials clinging to shreds of European rule and sozzled with unlimited supplies of gin and whisky. Flory has been out of England too long to be able to return, but doesn't belong in Burma either. This book is an eloquent portrayal of the loneliness of an Englishman abroad in the 1920s and an unblinking observation of British rule abroad. Well worth reading.
Interesting book looking at colonial life in Burma. In spite of being a fictional story, readers can get a good understanding of life during this time period. There are an interesting array of characters to follow.
"Burmese Days" was very good. It describes the narrator's experiences as a colonial in Burma. He hates the other British people's attitude to the Burmese. However, this causes him to becomes alienated from the other British people, and he ends up in misery.