Wednesday, October 17, 2007

V. George Orwell [The Becoming of Burmese Days]


George Orwell and Burma

1. The Becoming of Burmese Days
It would not be wrong to saying that the experience he had in Burma was quite enormous for a young police sergeant in different culture. He was also able to travel town to town as his job required, and that made him studying new languages. As he was very keen to learning new languages and his lingual skill made him more convenience not only promoting the role of himself working at imperial service to better position but also to communicating with local people having a chance to understanding of who they were and what they really needed.

The more he involved into imperial service and made new friends at new environment, the more he learned that there was something wrong with the system and the people. He was not at the right place for his own passion but how could he speak out his judgment as an Imperial Sergeant to the Empire without having his own freedom for the sake of securing his job.

He lasted five years in Burma and decided to abandon the imperial service for the uncertain life. There was no secure job waiting for him in England. The only passionate desire to write books about what he had seen and experiences in his life, and that force drove him out of Burma to start a new life form not foreseeing of his future. In his essay, Why I write, described why he wanted to write books so much. “In a peaceful age I might have written ornate or merely descriptive books, and might have remained almost unaware of my political loyalties” Why I write, Collected Essays. He also had a natural hatred of authority and made him understanding of the nature of imperialism when he spent five years in an unsuitable profession in Burma.

Some couple years later he would refer to his life in Burma as ‘five boring years within the sound of bugles’ My Country Right or Left, Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, but that was a typical understatement.
The landscapes, especially in Upper Burma, exercised a potent
hold on his imagination that they took on ‘the qualities of
nightmare’, he said later, adding that they ‘stayed on hauntingly
in my mind that I was obliged to write [Burmese Days]… to get
rid of them’. The Road to Wigan Pier ,101.

After he accomplished Down and Out in Paris and London, he is ready enough to drive with second gear pushing forward his previous experience in Burma in order to characterize the persons and environment he had met.

Orwell’s initial attempts to have Burmese Days printed were not encouraging. A publisher in Britain rejected the manuscript and let Orwell to believe that the government world try to suppress it. In actuality the publisher had been warned by his lawyer that the novel was likely to attract lawsuits. Orwell was forced to take his work to America where it was published by Harper’s in 1934, but only after modifications were made. Orwell was asked to change the occupations of some of the characters from civil servants to businessmen, effectively softening his denunciation of the British colonial system.

The book was well received in the U.S., and the British publisher finally relented after Orwell agreed to modify the story even further. Among the second round of amendments was an attempt to delocalize the story from Katha.

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