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Customer Review

VINE VOICE
9 March 2011
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.
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