Burmese Days

A Novel
Narrated by: Frederick Davidson
Length: 10 hrs and 17 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (212 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Colonial politics in Kyauktada, India, in the 1920s, come to a head when the European Club, previously for whites only, is ordered to elect one token native member. The deeply racist members do their best to manipulate the situation, resulting in the loss not only of reputations but of lives.

Amid this cynical setting, timber merchant James Flory, a Brit with a genuine appreciation for the native people and culture, stands as a bridge between the warring factions. But he has trouble acting on his feelings, and the significance of his vote, both social and political, weighs on him. When Elizabeth Lackersteen arrives - blonde, eligible, and anti-intellectual - Flory finds himself the hapless suitor.

Orwell alternates between grand-scale political intrigue and nuanced social interaction, mining his own Colonial Indian heritage to create a monument of historical fiction.

George Orwell (1903–1950), the pen name of Eric Arthur Blair, was an English novelist, essayist, and critic. He was born in India and educated at Eton. After service with the Indian Imperial Police in Burma, he returned to Europe to earn his living by writing and became notable for his simplicity of style and his journalistic or documentary approach to fiction.

©1934 George Orwell (P)1992 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“A well integrated, fast-moving story of what life was like in a remote backcountry Asiatic station.” (Chicago Tribune)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Sad, Fierce and Ambitious Colonial Novel

A sad, fierce and ambitious novel about the emptiness and loneliness of the waning days of the British Empire. It shows the ugliness and corruption of British class-based social structure, cultural bigotry and the harsh individual fantasies that are needed to keep the whole system afloat. It shows the future potential of Orwell, but lacks the restrained grace of his later novels. There are, however, definite glitters and shadows of both E.M. Forster and Joseph Conrad throughout. It is worth the listen for those interested in early Orwell or the decline of the post-WWI British Empire.

15 people found this helpful

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An impressive first novel

Orwell is a better artist than he is given credit for. For a first novel this is very impressive. The one obvious problem with it is the unrelentingly negative portrayal of people that dominates. He despises the British colonialists; and he has a jaundiced view of the native Burmese. The narrator, Frederick Davidson, has the right kind of voice for snobby colonialists, but I get tired of that voice sometimes.

1 person found this helpful

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descent read

George Orwell is incredible to getting into the minds of people. Its surprising how little humans change with time and technology

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poetic

great peek into the colonial past of Myanmar. I love stened on the train from Mandalay to Katha where the story takes place.

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A True Gemek

vivid character development, exquisite images of a lost time, artistic reading, powerful theme. Nothing more to say.

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Brilliant.

Why bother reading reviews of such an important book in an open forum like this?

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Amazing narrator.

It’s a story of the end of the British colonial days in Burma, with the white skinned overlords ruling over the dark skinned native savages. Meanwhile the protagonist is trying to get a woman to marry him. I enjoyed it, thanks to the amazing narrator...

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Orwell is so much more than 1984 !

Narrator is perfect -- great reading w/o straying into performance.
Reader is immersed in the details of British-occupied Burma.

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  • J.
  • 07-19-17

No elephant in the room in this book

I loved Orwell's autobiographical work "Down and Out in Paris." "Burmese Days" draws on his civil service in colonial South East Asia, but is a novel. I'd read the short story "The Shooting of an Elephant" and wrongly supposed that it had been extracted from this work. The central character makes an oblique reference to an elephant shooting in his past but alas no elephants here. Always a critic of Britain's imperial domination, Orwell sets out to expose the seedy side of life at the fringes of empire. The focal point is the town's European club whose members are on the social downswing and for whom the colonies provide last opportunity to maintain a pretense of privilege. Contrasting are the Burmese who see in these Whites the means to advance their own social standing and confound their rivals.

This is not Orwell's best work, but it's instructive about race relations and the quiet desperation of colonial postings. Unfortunately it is difficult to write about monotony without being monotonous. The plot drags in places.

Personally I'm a fan of Fredrick Davidson (aka David Case) as a narrator. His range of dialects can accommodate any British setting and does justice to women's voices as well. Davidson however, is not everybody's cup of tea. You either love or hate him.

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Colonial History - Period Accents - Love Tragedy

I enjoyed the book as entertainment and history. The accents and tone used by the reader contextualized the power relationships among characters. The characters were well developed.