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Customer Review

on 17 February 2012
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.

For me, he succeeds in making Flory, with all his faults, a character who, despite the fact that he is obviously on "the winning side" (with the colonials) a believeable and likeable character.

Easy five stars.
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