Home » England » George Orwell » Burmese Days

George Orwell: Burmese Days

This book was turned down in England as the publishers feared libel from either former colonial officers or Burmese. Harper Brothers in New York were, therefore, the first to publish it. For a first novel, it wasn’t bad though no great literature. It was clearly influenced by Passage to India and other colonial novels. However, it does have a strong pro-Burmese, anti-colonialism slant. Most of the British characters are decidedly racist and very much look down on the Burmese. John Flory, a timber merchant, is sympathetic to the Burmese but he can neither relate to the Burmese or his compatriots and ends up befriending another outsider, an Indian doctor, Veriswami. Veriswami is decidedly pro-British and continually praises the British though he is, of course, rejected by all of them.

At this point Elizabeth Lackersteen arrives from England to visit her aunt. Flory is interested and so is she, till she finds out that he is not the imperialist she is looking for and turns her attention to a British police officer. It all goes terribly wrong – for Flory, for Elizabeth, for Veraswami and for the police officer, with only the devious (and very stereotyped) Burmese, U Po Kyin, winning out.

Other links

Text of the novel

Publishing history

First published 1934 by Harper Brothers