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Burmese Days (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 29 Nov 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Re-issue edition (29 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141185376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141185378
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

George Orwell is one of England's most famous writers and social commentators. Among his works are the classic political satire Animal Farm and the dystopian nightmare vision Nineteen Eighty-Four. Orwell was also a prolific essayist, and it is for these works that he was perhaps best known during his lifetime. They include Why I Write and Politics and the English Language. His writing is at once insightful, poignant and entertaining, and continues to be read widely all over the world.

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in 1903 in India, where his father worked for the Civil Service. The family moved to England in 1907 and in 1917 Orwell entered Eton, where he contributed regularly to the various college magazines. From 1922 to 1927 he served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, an experience that inspired his first novel, Burmese Days (1934). Several years of poverty followed. He lived in Paris for two years before returning to England, where he worked successively as a private tutor, schoolteacher and bookshop assistant, and contributed reviews and articles to a number of periodicals. Down and Out in Paris and London was published in 1933. In 1936 he was commissioned by Victor Gollancz to visit areas of mass unemployment in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) is a powerful description of the poverty he saw there.

At the end of 1936 Orwell went to Spain to fight for the Republicans and was wounded. Homage to Catalonia is his account of the civil war. He was admitted to a sanatorium in 1938 and from then on was never fully fit. He spent six months in Morocco and there wrote Coming Up for Air. During the Second World War he served in the Home Guard and worked for the BBC Eastern Service from 1941 to 1943. As literary editor of the Tribune he contributed a regular page of political and literary commentary, and he also wrote for the Observer and later for the Manchester Evening News. His unique political allegory, Animal Farm was published in 1945, and it was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which brought him world-wide fame.

It was around this time that Orwell's unique political allegory Animal Farm (1945) was published. The novel is recognised as a classic of modern political satire and is simultaneously an engaging story and convincing allegory. It was this novel, together with Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), which finally brought him world-wide fame. Nineteen Eighty-Four's ominous depiction of a repressive, totalitarian regime shocked contemporary readers, but ensures that the book remains perhaps the preeminent dystopian novel of modern literature.

Orwell's fiercely moral writing has consistently struck a chord with each passing generation. The intense honesty and insight of his essays and non-fiction made Orwell one of the foremost social commentators of his age. Added to this, his ability to construct elaborately imaginative fictional worlds, which he imbued with this acute sense of morality, has undoubtedly assured his contemporary and future relevance.

George Orwell died in London in January 1950.

Product Description

Book Description

Three key novels from the 1930s by the author who later became world-famous for his political satires, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) was born in India in 1903. He was educated at Eton, served with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, and worked in Britain as a private tutor, schoolteacher, bookshop assistant and journalist. In 1936, Orwell went to fight for the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and was wounded. In 1938 he was admitted into a sanatorium and from then on was never fully fit. George Orwell died in London in 1950.

Emma Larkin is the pseudonym for an American journalist who was born and raised in Asia, studied the Burmese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, and covers Asia in her journalism from her base in Bangkok. She has been visiting Burma for close to ten years.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
U Po Kyin, Sub-divisional Magistrate of Kyauktada, in Upper Burma, was sitting in his veranda. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Lynas VINE VOICE on 23 July 2004
Format: Paperback
That the imagery and language of 1984 have become so indelibly printed on the minds of modern society should be enough on its own to make people investigate Orwell's other novels. Sadly, this isn't the case so most people miss out on the joys of the greatest English writer of the 20th Century.
Burmese Days is Orwell's homage to the Raj, if you like; a caustic look at the miserable and meaningless existence of ex-pats in the dying days of the Empire. Like all Orwell's writing, it is informed by his own personal experiences. He also writes with a clarity and simplicity that means his images and meanings are never in doubt.
Ultimately, Burmese Days is a tragedy and there is scant little hope or jollity to be found anywhere in it, but this doesn't detract from a wholly engaging read. Like Homage to Catalonia, Orwell's great work about the Spanish Civil War, you are left understanding what life was like for the writer in his days in the service of the Crown. As with all Orwell's novels except, ironically, 1984, the author's humanist tendencies shine through, meaning you feel sympathy and empathy with everyone in the book; Orwell is not helping you to understand the processes of life, rather their impact, in the hope that you can do something about it.
Just so you know, the four Orwell novels everyone should read are 1984, Animal Farm, Coming up for Air and Burmese Days (in that order), and everyone should also read Homage to Catalonia and The Road to Wigan Pier as well. His essays are equally wonderful and the most startling thing about all his writing is how relevant its themes and observations still are 60 or 70 years on.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Mr. D. W. Kenrick on 3 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
Burmese Days is an extremely readable novel dealing with life in the British Empire. As a former history student of this subject, I would argue that Orwell, writing from his own experiences, provides an insightful and interesting account of the mechanics of British imperial rule in the Raj - particularly regarding the use of subordinates, and the importance of prestige and 'keeping the British end up'. His treatment of Dr. Veraswami and the perceptions of him by the white members of the club (particularly the vulgar Ellis) recalls typical British attitudes towards 'anglicised' Indians - which, paradoxically given the rhetoric of 'civilising force', was often one of disdain. Indeed Orwell's views about the Empire are amply expounded by his main character 'Flory', in who's resentment and disillusionment - coupled with powerlessness - I could see Winston (from 1984), but found him ultimately to be more likeable.

For the less historically-minded, Burmese Days is extremely well written, and Orwell is able to describe vividly the Burmese setting for his plot. Clearly Orwell feels the same way about Burma as his main character, expressing a love-hate relationship which existed for English ex-pats there and, no doubt, all across the Empire. In his other characters he presents a damning view of the charade of European society in far-flung corners of the world, and his emotive treatment of Flory's love for Miss Lackersteen, despite all her flaws, resonates with the reader. At about only 300 pages, Burmese Days is a very pleasant read that can be completed in a day or two, highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "phileccles" on 22 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
A work of power and depth which deserves to rank up there with Animal Farm and 1984. Orwell delivers such a wonderful character study of Flory that I cannot believe it is not based at least partly on himself. He writes passages which are so striking in their insight into the human condition that they stay in your brain forever. If the ending does not leave you moved, you're made of stone.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Boglebadger on 6 Mar. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book, it's an easy read but quite sickening in its description of the unpleasantness of British colonialism. Orwell makes virtually all the characters unpleasant and narrow-minded, and it's difficult to sympathise with even the main protagonist.

The Kindle version though is quite good but there are some weird errors. Did they digitise it with some OCR software? It keeps saying "mere" where "there" was intended, and particularly strange was the use of "tiling" instead of "thing". While the book isn't particularly expensive, proof reading would undoubtedly have caught these, so it gets a bit irritating.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By oggy on 17 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
This review is of the Penguin "Modern Classics" edition of Burmese Days, with the introduction by Emma Larkin.

There are 25 chapters to this 300-page book and most of the important characters are introduced in the first two chapters which cover 34 pages. I found it a little difficult to get going with the story because sorting out the many characters who are introduced at the beginning was, for me, a little challenging ... for example, U Po Kyin is also known as Ko Po Kyin; Ma Kin is also known as Kin Kin.

So, I wound up making a list of characters, rather like the cast of characters one might see prefacing a play, and, hey presto, it all fell into place. In fact, there are no more than a dozen important characters, Flory, an English timber merchant, being the character around whom the story is based ..... otherwise there are a hotch-potch of colonials, "Eurasians", an Indian doctor, Burmese, etc.

It's a bit of an adventure story in that a minor revolt is taking place, dacoits (bandits) are running around, and Flory gets himself all messed up in some kind of doomed romance (on the one hand he has a Burmese mistress, on the other he falls in love with a newly-arrived young female fellow-colonial) .... but more than that it's an indictment of British colonial rule in 1920's Burma.

There is quite a lot of news coming out of Myanmar at the moment in which we hear of the undemocratic and autocratic government that presides, but reading this book makes one realize that life was much worse under the British.

In later works Orwell wrote about the poverty of the least fortunate in the 1920's-&-1930's in Western Europe, and later wrote criticisms of totalitarianism and fascism, but this book is all about the British colonies.
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