4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Most Definitely a Modern Classic,
This review is from: Burmese Days (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
A shame that Burmese Days is not as well known as Animal Farm and 1984, as it is an astonishing book.
It is beautifully written; the richness of Orwell's literary style is such that the reader has to read each carefully to appreciate the richness of the language; for instance on p.56:
"Here a peepul tree grew, a great buttressed thing six feet thick, woven of innumerable strands of wood, like a wooden cable twisted by a giant. The roots of the tree made a natural cavern, under which the clear greenish water bubbled...turning the place into a green grotto walled with leaves."
Every scene comes very vividly to life.
In many ways what the book deals with is shocking. Many reviewers have found it difficult to believe that the British rule could have been so horrible. Because of the focus of the book, there is very little abut the benefits of British rule to local people. But there are not many books about imperialism that describe in such detail the reality of the day to day life the different actors: the British civil servant, who had a lot of power in the particular part of the Empire; the womanfolk who were already out there as wives of the civil servants; the single women who came out mainly to look for husbands; the local people who tried to use the system to increase their own power; the local people who were happy to work for the imperial power even when it meant killing their own people. Normal history teaching focus on great events especially victories and for many people such day to day scenarios are unknown.
With the present day focus on conservation of wildlife, it is easy to forget that hunting used to be a great pastime. Burmese Days brings to home the joy and the excitement of hunting. Not only was it a question of `trophies' such as leopard skin, but it was a completely different relationship between humans and wildlife.
The characterization is excellent. Orwell has shown his ability to read into the minds of different people, regardless of their social and economic status, their gender, or their race.
However much it makes your stomach turn over, it is a must.