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De jaren in Birma
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De jaren in Birma

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  9,271 ratings  ·  575 reviews
Set in the days of the Empire, with the British ruling in Burma, this book describes corruption and imperial bigotry. Flory, a white timber merchant, befriends Dr Veraswami, a black enthusiast for the Empire, whose downfall can only be prevented by membership at an all-white club.
Paperback, 292 pages
Published 1975 by Meulenhoff Amsterdam (first published 1934)
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Petra X
Totally rewritten 19th May 2013.

Set in the days of the Empire, with the British ruling in Burma, this book describes corruption and imperial bigotry. Although this was Orwell's first book and no doubt based in part on his experiences in his first job as a policeman in Burma, his talent is already fully developed, the writing is superb, the characterisations rounded and lively. Another of his stories from this time and location is also a favourite of mine, Shooting an Elephant

Burmese Days is esse
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Sarah (Warning: Potentially Off-Topic)
Poor Flory. If only he'd had the good sense to be born into an E.M. Forster novel instead of one by George Orwell, he might have had half a chance.

Burmese Days, Orwell’s second book, draws on his own experiences as a police officer in imperial Burma in the 1920s. The novel describes the experiences of John Flory, an English timber merchant living in a Burmese outpost. Flory feels increasingly estranged from the other Europeans. His only real friend is a Burmese doctor, despite the disapproval of
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B0nnie

"The whole body of policemen, military and civil, about a hundred and fifty men in all, had attacked the crowd from the rear, armed only with sticks. They had been utterly engulfed. The crowd was so dense that it was like an enormous swarm of bees seething and rotating. Everywhere one could see policemen wedged helplessly among the hordes of Burmans, struggling furiously but uselessly, and too cramped even to use their sticks. Whole knots of men were tangled Laocoon-like in the folds of unrolled
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Fionnuala
There’s a map of the village of Kyautada in my edition of Burmese Days, a map which is based on a drawing done by Orwell himself. My heart skips when I see a map in a book; I know immediately that the geography of the place will be somehow important, and Orwell’s map, with little arrows tagged UP and DOWN alongside the roads, gives an almost three-dimensional idea of the terrain, showing that the village was built on the side of a hill. The few buildings strewn along the slope are tagged with th ...more
Henry Avila
In the 1920's an obscure young Englishman named John Flory, obviously modeled after George Orwell, himself, goes to colonial Burma, to make his fortune, The Road to Mandalay, this is not. The writer had been a policeman there too, for five years. Flory becomes a timber merchant, in the north of the country, and living in Kyauktada(Katha). A small town of 4,000, at the edge of the formidable jungle. But it is the capital of the district, with a railroad, hospital, courts and a jail of course, als ...more
MJ Nicholls
George’s fictionalised account of his time in Burma with our brave old lads in the Indian Imperial Police. Flory is our antihero, desperately striving for decency and brotherhood and love in a moral backwater populated by the drunk whore-mongering Old Guard English and corrupt local blackmailers, rapists and tyrants (rolled into one here as U Po Kyin). Caught in the middle are the unfortunate Burmese and Indians trapped in an easily manipulated honour system, ruled over with contempt by the inst ...more
Kim

I’m on a bit of a George Orwell kick at the moment. Until a few months ago, my experience of Orwell’s writing was limited to the truly brilliant 1984. I’m not sure why I’d not read anything else he wrote, particularly given that I’ve read 1984 multiple times. In any event, a walking tour in Paris which took in the street where Orwell (then just plain Eric Blair) lived and which is evoked in the first scene in Down and Out in Paris and London led me to read that particular work and now I can’t ge
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Barry Pierce (*ON HIATUS*)
Imagine sitting in a small, dark room with George Orwell sitting ten inches away from you shouting the words, "RACISM" and "IMPERIALISM" at you for two hours. That's what it's like reading this novel. Orwell wants to get his message across so strongly that he completely forgets that coherent plots and characters are essential in fiction. However I must say that Burmese Days is written very well (as with all of Orwell's works) and it has a disgustingly pessimistic ending (which is always a major ...more
Patricia
In George Orwell's essay "Why I Write," he says that his first published work of fiction, Burmese Days (1934), is the kind of book that he aspired to write at the age of sixteen when a passage from Milton's Paradise Lost sent "shivers down [his] backbone." Specifically, Orwell says that he wanted to write "enormous naturalistic novels with unhappy endings, full of detailed descriptions and arresting similes, and also full of purple passages in which words were used partly for the sake of their s ...more
Grace Tjan
Orwell's scathing denunciation of British colonialism won't win awards for subtlety, but still a powerful, unsparing account of colonial characters and their tragic foibles. The humor is of a dark variety, and as the story progresses, it feels like an agonizingly slow train wreck making its way through the fetid jungles of Burma. Virtually all the characters are unlikable --- perhaps some depth is sacrificed in the interest of illustrating the excesses of the system and the people who run it --- ...more
Mukikamu
It is extraordinary that I haven’t read Burmese Days before. I owe my thirst for colonial novels an apology. However, better later than never to bump into a classic. Orwell’s book flashes qualities of Bates in descriptions of Burman climate, wildlife and living circumstances, plus adds highly enjoyable critical view of British colonial society and politics of the 1920s. The tragic love story naturally is of secondary importance.

” A cool breath of wind blew up the hill. It was one of those moment
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Sam Quixote
George Orwell’s first novel, Burmese Days, is a damning look at British Imperialism and the effects of colonialism on both the British and the native populace. John Flory is an expatriate timber merchant who has lived in Burma for 15 years and become thoroughly jaded, spending his days drinking and whoring in a miserable haze. Then Dr Veraswami, his Indian friend, desperately implores Flory for membership to the European Club which he knows is the only thing that would save him from corrupt and ...more
Asa
There's something about the way George Orwell writes that draws me into the story and keeps me reading, even though I can see everything going wrong and most of the characters are unpleasant, which could be because all of them are trapped in the colonial system and none of them are strong enough to get away from it. The story takes place in Burma, on a small station where only a handful of white people live, in the early part of the twentieth century when Britain was still an Empire and everyone ...more
Andrew
I'm a big Orwell fan, largely because he had one of the world's great bullshit filters. He stuck by his socialist guns, something conveniently ignored by the army of libertarian retards who use 1984 to prop up their juvenile worldview.

And he produced a terrifyingly accurate account of life as an outsider in Southeast Asia. Translate Burma in the '20s to Thailand in the '00s:

1) Hopelessly corrupt local officials
2) Lazy, alcoholic white people who do nothing but grouse about the natives, except fo
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Elaine
Upgrading this to a 5. Again, I should have reviewed it when I read it, but there was no Internet connection worth the candle in Myanmar (Burma). It's sardonic Orwell through and through - there's an extent to which he always tells the same story - but the book balances humor and tragedy remarkably. And the atmosphere is perfect. A brilliant savage look at the last days of colonialism.
Connor Davidson
In Burmese Days, George Orwell comments on society and imperialism. The story is based around U Po Kyin, a magistrate, and Dr Veraswami. Each wants an affiliation to the European club. Their dispute ends up drafting a British timber merchant, John Florey and something happens. But I’m not going to tell you what: I am attempting to make this, and all, of my book reviews as spoiler free as possible.

When I read this book I found that the first 15 chapters were good. From 15-23 they got really good
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Ally
Only 30 or so pages into this book I was overwhelmed by the depiction of racism in the British Raj...I'm now pondering whether I find it shocking because of my modern perspective OR whether it would have always been this shocking even when Orwell wrote it? - There is a line about Ellis being "...one of those Englishmen - common unfortunately - who should never be allowed to set foot in the East" (the bottom of page 21 in my Penguin Modern Classics edition) - That piques my interest in the Britis ...more
Rowena
I was going to mark it as 3 stars because I didn't like the ending but I really enjoyed reading this book so I changed my mind. As a person who spent her teen years in a former British colony, albeit in the 90s, I could identify with a lot that the book talked about. It still shocked me how racist the Europeans were to the local Burmese and also how they lived in a different culture and never really appreciated that culture, no matter how long they had lived there.
Brian Robbins
Began the only Orwell novel I hadn't read with an in-built if slight resistance, I too rarely read novels set outside the British Isles. Like all his novels it had some excellent points.

He is excellent at portraying a realistic inner-life going on within his characters. The self-doubts, the sudden changes of emotions triggered often by trivial events and concerns, the mixed motives, the rarity and fleeting quality of heroic actions.

His parody of the situation and motivations of those living wit
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Ali
It is a long time since I read any George Orwell I read four of his novels once, probably 20 - 25 years ago – and was really looking forward to reading this – his first novel. Some years ago I read a non-fiction book Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese teashop by Emma Larkin – who wrote the introduction for this edition. In that book (from what I can remember) Emma Larkin explored the way in which the five years George Orwell spent in Burma – where he is viewed as “the prophet” ...more
Shazia
I listened to the audiobook of this, and it was outstanding. I had only read 1984 in high school, so it was a delight to re-discover Orwell in a non-fantastical book. This is the story of a British officer in Burma, a good if somewhat weak-willed man, who appreciates many parts of Burmese culture, not believing the cult of superiority that the British had built up. The characters are well drawn, each with foilables. In fact, Orwell is much more likely to spell out a characters weaknesses than to ...more
Naeem
Orwell is a central figure in Nandy's Intimate Enemy. His "Shooting an Elephant" demonstrates Orwell's ambivalence towards colonialism. But Burmese days struck me as very pointed. I was so pleased for Orwell.

By the way, Orwell's essay, "Politics and the English Language," is the best thing I have ever read diagnosing unclear language use. In a nutshell here is the message: "Clarity has to be risked." Or conversely, when we are not being clear, this is because we hesitate to reveal our politics
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Lisabet Sarai
I'm an expatriate in Asia (by choice) and I read this book while traveling in Myanmar (formerly Burma) for the first time. These two factors are perhaps responsible for my strong emotional reaction to the story.

George Orwell served as a police officer in British-controlled Burma in the nineteen twenties. Although Burmese Days is a novel rather than an autobiography, the author's personal experience clearly informs every page. Whether he'd talking about the sweltering climate, the as-yet-unspoile
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William
Degenerates about two-thirds of the way through into a maudlin love story-----stopped me cold.
Emily
I would not have gotten very far in this book if the author's name were not so familiar. The portrait of imperialism is damning, to be sure, but the narrative voice is ambiguous enough at times as to make one unsure how deep the horrifying racism goes. It is clear that not one moment of sympathy should be offered to the degenerate collection of Europeans. If it weren't so terrible and true, it would be hilarious how pathetic they all are. Unfortunately, corruption decays everything it touches. U ...more
Chris
This is Orwell's first published work of fiction, and having read all of his other fiction and longer non-fiction books, it is the final major work of his I will have the opportunity to read. As Orwell is one of my favorite authors for a number of reasons, I of course have to read all of his work. The reasons I love Orwell are many: The honesty and decency of his character which shows throughout his body of work, the plain and frank nature of his prose - still so refreshing, and the bold and bra ...more
Jerod
Favorite quotes:


"Beauty is meaningless until it is shared."

"[Y]ou cannot stop your brain developing, and it is one of the tragedies of the half-educated that they develop late, when they are already committed to some wrong way of life . . . ."

"Everyone is free in England; we sell our souls in public and buy them back in private, among our friends."

"[I]t is a corrupting thing to live one's real life in secret. One should live with the stream of life, not against it. It would be better to be the t
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Nigeyb
Another great George Orwell novel.

Not quite as good as Coming Up for Air or A Clergyman's Daughter, but definitely better than Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

I really enjoyed it, which is odd considering it is unremittingly bleak throughout.

The book brilliantly evokes colonial life in Burma in the early 20th century and is clearly rooted in George Orwell's personal experience as a policeman in the country.

It must have been very cathartic for George Orwell to write this novel, and get so much of
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Shaun
While not as popular as his classics Animal Farm and 1984, Burmese Days is just as complex, just as politically motivated, and just as fulfilling. Orwell's ability to deliver a biting social commentary is supreme, and boy can he write with the best of them.

Take this passage for example:

She heard finality in his tone, and uttered a harsh, ugly cry. She bent forward again in a shiko, beating her forehead against the floor. It was dreadful. And what was more dreadful than all, what hurt in his bre
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Ann
I'd like to offer, as a sort of disclaimer, that it's a little weird for me to say whether or not I "like" a book, or worse still, to be the judge of how "good" it is. As a dutifully relativist English major, I'm wary of these terms, and especially of a star scale. I fall into all sorts of relativist angst over what "good" really is, who can say a book is "good," what these stars signify, and who am I to pick a number of stars...

That said (and I suppose that disclaimer applies to every review I
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Burmese Days Glossary 13 91 Sep 19, 2013 08:30PM  
  • Finding George Orwell in Burma
  • The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma
  • From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey
  • Golden Earth: Travels in Burma
  • Letters from Burma
  • The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy
  • The Siege of Krishnapur (Empire Trilogy, #2)
  • Williwaw
  • Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports
  • Aaron's Rod
  • Bunner Sisters
  • Born in Exile
  • Nineteen Seventy Seven (Red Riding, #2)
  • Under The Dragon: Travels In A Betrayed Land
  • Amelia
  • The Valley of Bones (A Dance to the Music of Time, #7)
  • Men at Arms
  • Sightseeing
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Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist. His work is marked by keen intelligence and wit, a profound awareness of social injustice, an intense opposition to totalitarianism, a passion for clarity in language, and a belief in democratic socialism.

Between 1941 and 1943, Orwell worked on propaganda for the BBC. In 1943, he became literary ed
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More about George Orwell...
1984 Animal Farm Animal Farm / 1984 Down and Out in Paris and London Homage to Catalonia

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“To talk, simply to talk! It sounds so little, and how much it is! When you have existed to the brink of middle age in bitter loneliness, among people to whom your true opinion on every subject on earth is blasphemy, the need to talk is the greatest of all needs.” 18 likes
“It is one of the tragedies of the half-educated that they develop late, when they are already committed to some wrong way of life.” 11 likes
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