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At this point, Chinese opium production moved abroad, southward into Indochina, and most particularly, into Upper Burma, the subject of the current essay.
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Frankly, I wasn’t eager to reread it. I had last read Burmese Days more than 40 years ago, and remembered little of it beyond the sour impression of annoying people stuck in a boring enclave in the middle of a jungly nowhere. Back then, in 1970, I was knocking around Asia with a rucksack filled with books, a distaste for schedules, a masochistic penchant for third-class travel, and a newly discovered fascination with the vestiges of the British empire, whose ghostly beauty I found in overgrown graveyards, haphazardly maintained churches, and the swaggeringly eclectic architecture of crumbling public buildings whose decay mocked the triumphal self-confidence of imperial destiny. I’m not sure what I expected from Burmese Days, but it didn’t turn out to be the nostalgic paean to the glamour of bygone empire that I had hoped for.
Burmese Days; Burmese Days - Book Report/Review Example
In my most recent encounter with Orwell’s novel, I discovered that my memory of Burmese Days wasn’t entirely off the mark in that it told me almost nothing about Burma. Though it hews to the novelistic conventions of its day, it actually has more in common with the fictionalized racial polemics of James Baldwin and the V.S. Naipaul of Guerrillas and A Bend in the River than with, say, the gently ironic sensibility of Somerset Maugham, who explored much of the same colonial territory around the same time. All the action of Burmese Days takes place in a remote upcountry outpost inhabited by a small circle of English steeped in conceit, hypocrisy, and a deep-dyed racism that regards native Burmese with unalloyed and undisguised contempt, when it regards them at all. The claustrophobic lives of the English center on drinking, card playing, and gossip; their intellectual pursuits extend only to strategies for keeping natives out of their whites-only club, in defiance of the new, cautiously liberal policy of the distant colonial government in Rangoon.
Extract of sample Burmese Days.
So, is that all there is to Burmese Days – a cruel book about a soul-crushing colonial world that deserved to die? Was that all there was to the colonial enterprise for which so many Englishmen labored? (So many died so young; their overgrown graves testify to their truncated lives in churchyards from Peshawar to Moulmein.) The very word “colonialism” is so stained with opprobrium that it seems risky to even suggest that there was anything redeeming about it. The vast network of Indian railways? Parliamentary institutions? The English language? It seems equally daring to suggest that the lives lived by the perpetrators of the colonial experience might be as worthy of attention and sympathy as those of its “victims” – another fraught word that prejudices the argument.
Burmese Days Essay Research Paper In the - Реферат
I wasn’t looking for George Orwell in Burma, but he was on my mind during the two weeks that I spent in what is now Myanmar this past summer. Given the very short shelf of good books on that country – travel and research were curtailed after the military coup of 1962 – Orwell’s Burmese Days, written in 1934, remains virtually unavoidable for the visitor.
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