George Orwell: The Critical Heritage

By Jeffrey Meyers | Go to book overview

of the ‘dirty nigger’ attitude. By an admirable stroke of irony, Mr Orwell makes Flory and the Doctor, a pompous plump little Hindu, argue at cross-purposes. Flory sneers at public schools, British rule and the ideal of the gentleman; Dr Murkhaswami is as contemptuous of his own race, but has a fanatical respect for the English character. Their friendship, the arguments which always take the same course, are excellent comedy; these two, in fact, are the only characters in the book whom one can genuinely like. Burmese Days is something of a heat-wave in current English fiction, but if you can stand the glare and the revelation of shabbiness and drooping spirits, it is the most impressive novel of the five.


11.

Malcolm Muggeridge, World Review

June 1950, pp. 45-8

Malcolm Muggeridge (b. 1903), friend of Orwell; English journalist, critic, editor of Punch 1953-7, television wit. The World Review devoted a special issue to Orwell in June 1950.

George Orwell’s Burmese Days is based, of course, on his own experiences in the Burma Police in the years after he left Eton—that is in the early twenties. There can be no doubt that this experience played a great part in his life. His family had close connections with India; he was born in Bengal, where his father was an official in the Opium Department. One day an attempt will doubtless be made, coolly and objectively, to analyse the effect on the English of their association with India. It is a fascinating subject, and whoever undertakes dealing with it will have plenty of data in works of fiction, from Vanity Fair to Plain Tales from the Hills or A Passage to India. Burmese Days belongs essentially to this tradition. It is a study of the human factor in the British Raj.

Considered simply as a novel, Burmese Days is not particularly

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