To Orwell Today,


i am looking for some critical reading of burmese days regarding imperialism. i was wondering if you can tell me if you have any or know somewhere on the web i could find some. There doesn't seem to be a whole deal written about this great book.

Thank you,
Hasina Khatun

Greetings Hasina,

Yes, I agree with you that "Burmese Days" is a great book. It's one of the best novels I've read and probably one of the most under-rated books of all time.

It's strange that there's so little critical analysis of it. In all the Orwell biographies I've read no author says anything really good and concrete about "Burmese Days". When I read it a few years ago, as part of a chronological reading of Orwell's books in the order in which he wrote them, I was amazed at how great it is. See my BURMESE DAYS review.

However, a year or so ago a book came out entitled FINDING GEORGE ORWELL IN BURMA by a journalist named Emma Larkin which discusses "Burmese Days" in great detail. It's a FANTASTIC piece of writing that is like nectar of the Gods for Orwell connoisseurs.

Larkin's premise is that Orwell got much of his "1984" ideas of the police-state tyranny of "Big Brother" from his observations of working and living in Burma from 1922 to 1927.

Larkin also expounds on what present-day life in Burma is like under the Chinese-backed Military Dictatorship that replaced the British-backed Corporate Dictatorship in 1948. She describes Burma as a perfect example of an Orwellian state and it is her contention that "Burmese Days" is the first part of an Orwell trilogy, the second and third being "Animal Farm" and "1984" respectively.

Since reading Larkin's book in September I've been wanting to write a review and have been fleetingly working on it. Now, motivated by your question, I've finished it in time to share for Christmas with "Orwell Today" readers. See FINDING ORWELL IN BURMA.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

PS - Go to "Orwell's Burma" by Steven Martin for an article critiquing "Burmese Days"

PPS - Here's a link to three editions of covers for Burmese Days. The photo of Orwell on the third is of him when he was there, from ages 19-23, in 1922-1927)

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~