Wednesday, October 17, 2007

II. George Orwell [Police Sergeant & The Life after Burma]


3. Police Sergeant
Eric Blair had become once at the service of imperial administration as a police sergeant after he graduated from Eton College in 1921. The next logical step for a college student after Eton was to go up to Cambridge or Oxford but since his academic record was a dismal one, and he couldn’t hope reasonably getting a university scholarship. From the fact that his parents did not willingly persuade and tend not to support anymore for his further education, he would have to make a decision to accepting the post as a police sergeant in foreign country, Burma, where his father used to work when he was young. It was also obviously to understand that his parents might want him to find a place in Empire, encouraging him to go to Burma and meet some of his relatives from his mother side including his grandmother.

No matter whatever made him going to Burma and accepting a colonial job, all that can be said for certain is that young Blair did have a great taste for adventure and his option to becoming a police sergeant would be a logical one.

He was only nineteen when he started his first long voyage from Liverpool to Rangoon. Once he arrived Burma, he had to attend training school for becoming a police sergeant in order to able to adapt different culture in foreign country. Every one from language classes also had to admit that he was the man with remarkable ability picking up Burmese and Hindu languages so easily.

During his period in training school, he stayed isolated and usually spent his time alone in his room. No one even got an impression that he would be becoming a famous author in the future. He could be portrayed during his years in police training school as incompetent, unpopular police officer.

By the end of his first year in Burma, he had satisfied all the requirements of the probationary period in Burma. He was young and had developed into Burmese and Hindustani. A great deal of the paperwork which passed through the typical district head quarters was written in Burmese, so a young officer who could use the language well had an obvious advantage over colleagues who were still struggling with it.

His first posting after Mandalay was to Myaungmya , some eighty miles west of Rangoon. Like so many other districts in Lower Burma, it was hot, wet and primitive. There were long stretches of tidal forest in the south and endless fields of rice in the north. Leopards and tigers roamed freely in certain parts, and monkeys and crocodiles were plentiful in the southern forests. This was a difficult environment, by anyone’s standards, but Blair performed well during the short period of his stay.

4. The Life after Burma
Eric served in Burma for 5 years. And then he came back to Britain with less than 6 months holidays. He had already decided he did not turn back to Burma when he came back. Eric wrote the following reason.
“When I came home on leave in 1927 I was already half
determined to throw up my job, and one sniff of English air
decided me. I was not going back to be a part of that evil
despotism. But I wanted much more than merely to escape
from my job. For five years I had been part of an oppressive
system, and it had left me with a bad conscience:
Innumerable remembered faces- faces of prisoners in the
dock, of men waiting in the condemned cells, of
subordinates I had bullied and aged peasants I had snubbed,
of servants and coolies---I had got to expiate. I suppose that
sounds exaggerated; but if you do for five years a job that
you thoroughly disapprove of , you will probably feel the
same.” The Road to Wigan Pier,137.

For a while, he lived together with parents, and sometime he visited A.S.F. Gow who worked as a researcher in Trinity College at Cambridge since 1925. Then he moved to Portobello Road, 10th Street in the winter of 1927. With the help of Ruth Pitter (Poet), he rented and lived at No.10 Portobello Road, London. Starting from that time he began his lonely life although he had lived in London and started writing for 6 months, he did not become author.

In the spring of 1928, he moved to France and resided at No.6 Rue du Pot de Fer, located at the left side of Paris, where he worked as tutor and as dish cleaner at hotels or restaurants. During this time Eric continued writing novels and Essays.

In December 1929 he returned to London, and earned as a tutor. Then he started to prepare “Down and Out in Paris and London”. At that time he wandered on the streets, lived at inns and Hops, like a hooligan. Sometime Eric had been seen at Mrs. Mabel Fierz’s house or Ruth Pitter’s house or Richard Rees’ house. After coming back from wandering around the city, he wrote down all the things he just experienced.

In October 1930, Eric completed the writing of “Down and Out in Paris and London”. In 1931 he lived together with his sister Marjorie who was supported him. On April 1932, Eric had worked as a teacher in Evelyn’s school for fifteen months. On 1933 January 9, the first novel of his “Down and Out in Paris and London” were published by Victor Gollancz.

At the beginning of December 1933, he was hospitalized for lungs disease after typing draft of “Burmese Days”. In 1934, with the introduction of grandmother, Nellie Limonzin, Eric got a job in Hampstead as a bookshop assistant. Burmese Days was published by Harper & Brothers on 1934, October 25th.

From June 31st, 1936 to March 30th, he went to northern part of Britain. On 2nd April, Eric returned his house to landlord, and rented the small house called “the store” in Wallington village. During this year, Eric married with Eileen O’Shaughnessy.

One month after marriage, he started to write “The Road to Wigan Pier”. Before Christmas, he left to Spain. After that, Orwell became a member of POUM (Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification).

Orwell, as a soldier of POUM in Aragon, went to frontier. At the battle of Huesca, Orwell got wound at neck. He could just whisper for nearly two months, but sudden after that, he regained voice. While some members of POUM fled or were arrested, Orwell, together with Eileen, John McNair of ILP, Stafford Cottman, ran away to Barcelona, Spain. Then he crossed France border on November 23rd, from where Eric came back to England.

According to his experiences from Wigan and many other places where Eric wandered, he hated the totalitarianism due to his experience in Barcelona although he, himself, was a socialist.

In July 1937, Orwell and his wife returned to Willington. During March, 1938, Orwell suffered from tuberculosis lung infection and was hospitalized at Preston Hall, Kent with the help of his brother in law, Lawrence O’Shaughnessy. He was not permitted to write but sometime just to write book review. “Homage to Catalonia” was published in April.

Author L.H.Myers, with the secret name, support three hundred pounds to Orwell after hearing doctor’s advice to Orwell that he should rest at warm place. The couple went to Morocco.

Eric had lived in Morocco for about 4 months and took rest. On March 30,1939, Mr. and Mrs. Orwell came back to London with original writing of “Coming Up for Air”. At first he stayed at Southwald and went back to Wallington on April 11. Gollancz published “Coming Up for Air” in June.

During this year, Orwell survived as a breeder of goose, goat and chicken. He lived peacefully by planting fruit trees and writing essays.

Second World War broke out on September 3rd, 1939. Although Orwell wanted to perform military service for his country, he could not get permission because of his lungs disease.

His wife Eileen rented and stayed at the house of his brother Lawrence, and worked at censorship department. During the weekend, she used to go back Wallington. Orwell finished “Inside the whale” in the middle of December. He lived in the house of Eileen’s brother from the end of 1939 to January 1940.

In May 1940, Orwell, together with Eileen, was back to London and resided near Regent’s Park. Then, he served at British army. In January 1941, Orwell began to write London letter current review. He had written this review for about five and half years. On August 18th, he worked at BBC India section with salary of six hundred and forty pounds per year.

Eric resigned from BBC in November 1943. Then, he performed head of editor post in Tribune. He also quitted from the city defense force.

In February 1944, Orwell completed “Animal Farm”. Because of its political concerned, this book was not accepted to publish by most publishers. However, Secker & Warburg published the “Animal Farm” which became the best seller. In1946, August, it was also later published by Harcourt, Brace in America.

In February 1945, he resigned from editor job, and served for Observer as journalist in France, from where he moved to Cologne, Germany. At the time, his wife, Eileen died during an operation at the hospital in Newcastle.

When Eileen died, Orwell returned to Britain, and then went back to Paris in April. After that he traveled to Germany, Austria and returned to London. During this time, he sent messages to Observer and Manchester Evening News.

In 1947 he went to Jura Island to write “Nineteen Eighty- Four”. At that time, Orwell’s health turned to bad condition. In Barnhill, located at north of island, Eric rented field house with the help of his friend David Astor. He considered living there for the life long. The field house was far a mile from road. It took 12 hours to reach Glasgow Hospital at where Orwell consulted for his lungs disease. After he lived in the island for one week, Susan Watson took his foster son, Richard, back to him.

Orwell completely wrote the draft of “Nineteen Eight-Four” in October, 1947. On December 20, he was hospitalized in Hairmyres Hospital , at West Kilbride near Glasgow. He had to stay at hospital till middle of 1948. After that he was trying to complete “1984” by typing continuously without rest, he fell down on bed but he finished it at December.

In summer of 1949, he was further hospitalized at Cotswolds hospital and his health condition became worse. In June 1949, after publishing 1984, Orwell became famous. (Time magazine issued on November 28, 1983 described that Nineteen Eighty- Four was so far translated into 62 languages and was read by many people.)

Eric was admitted to London University Hospital in September, 1949. However, he could not get relieve and recovery. At October 13rd of the year, he held wedding ceremony with Sonia Brownell at hospital. According to his friends retold concerning further marriage, Eric thought that he could live for longer life and could write many novels by marriage with Sonia.

In January 1950, couple of Orwell planned to travel to Sanatorium, Swiss. He thought fresh air in this place could be effective for his lungs infection. At night of 21st January, Eric vomited blood and died immediately.

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