George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

the drink, the loneliness and the dry-rot, the birthmark and the misanthropy, the misanthropy and the anti-social ideas, the anti-social ideas and the ostracism. Poor Flory hasn’t a dog’s chance against his author. However, one advantage in weighted dice is that the game is secure, and if one does not perceive that Mr Orwell is being too Olympian then the course of his hero’s life will seem natural and ineluctable as Fate, and one will say, ‘Yes, it rings true—it had to happen that way. ’


9.

Unsigned notice, Times Literary Supplement

18 July 1935, p. 462

The names of the native characters were changed in the English edition: Dr Veraswami was called Dr Murkhaswami and U Po Kyin (the real name of an officer in the Burmese Police) was called U Po Sing.

Burmese Days, by George Orwell, is symptomatic of the reaction against conventional portrayals of Burma as a land of tinkling temple bells, gentle charming Burmans, and strong, silent Englishmen. The scene is Kyauktada District during the rebellion period, but there is nothing heroic about it. The English—they number only half a dozen men and two commonplace women—are too aloof, the Burmese too abject. Mind and body alike deteriorate in the heat and boredom. The one man among them who would have liked to take an interest in the people, Flory, the forest manager in a second-rate timber firm, is cold-shouldered for making friends with an Asiatic, the Civil Surgeon, Dr Murkhaswami. The jungle Burmese are attractive enough, but those of the town seem to consist mainly of pimps, professional witnesses and corrupt magistrates. One of the last, U Po Sing, the sub-divisional magistrate, actually wins promotion for sup


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