Finding George Orwell in Burma

Finding George Orwell in Burma

Book - 2005
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Penguin Putnam
Over the years the American writer Emma Larkin has spent traveling in Burma, she's come to know all too well the many ways this brutal police state can be described as "Orwellian." The life of the mind exists in a state of siege in Burma, and it long has. But Burma's connection to George Orwell is not merely metaphorical; it is much deeper and more real. Orwell's mother was born in Burma, at the height of the British raj, and Orwell was fundamentally shaped by his experiences in Burma as a young man working for the British Imperial Police. When Orwell died, the novel-in-progress on his desk was set in Burma. It is the place George Orwell's work holds in Burma today, however, that most struck Emma Larkin. She was frequently told by Burmese acquaintances that Orwell did not write one book about their country--his first novel, Burmese Days--but in fact he wrote three, the "trilogy" that included Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. When Larkin quietly asked one Burmese intellectual if he knew the work of George Orwell, he stared blankly for a moment and then said, "Ah, you mean the prophet!"

In one of the most intrepid political travelogues in recent memory, Emma Larkin tells of the year she spent traveling through Burma using the life and work of George Orwell as her compass. Going from Mandalay and Rangoon to poor delta backwaters and up to the old hill-station towns in the mountains of Burma's far north, Larkin visits the places where Orwell worked and lived, and the places his books live still. She brings to vivid life a country and a people cut off from the rest of the world, and from one another, by the ruling military junta and its vast network of spies and informers. Using Orwell enables her to show, effortlessly, the weight of the colonial experience on Burma today, the ghosts of which are invisible and everywhere. More important, she finds that the path she charts leads her to the people who have found ways to somehow resist the soul-crushing effects of life in this most cruel police state. And George Orwell's moral clarity, hatred of injustice, and keen powers of observation serve as the author's compass in another sense too: they are qualities she shares and they suffuse her book--the keenest and finest reckoning with life in this police state that has yet been written.

A brave and revelatory reconnaissance of modern Burma, one of the world's grimmest and most shuttered police states, using as its compass the life and work of George Orwell, the man many in Burma call simply "the prophet"

Baker & Taylor
A profile of the police state in Burma and its effect on the writings of George Orwell discusses the author's mother's origins in Burma at the height of the British raj, Orwell's work with the British Imperial Police, and local reverence for his literary works. 30,000 first printing.

Book News
An American journalist who was born and raised in Asia and has been visiting Burma since the middle 1990s, Larkin recounts the year she spent traveling across Burma, now Myanmar, using the life and work of British author Orwell (1903-50) as her guide. He lived in the country during the 1920s as an officer of the Imperial Police Force, and based his first novel, Burmese Days, on the experience. There is no index or bibliography. Originally published as Secret Histories: A Journey through Burma Today in the Company of George Orwell in 2004 by John Murray, London. Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell North Amer
Over the years the American writer Emma Larkin has spent traveling in Burma, she's come to know all too well the many ways this police state can be described as "Orwellian." The life of the mind exists in a state of siege in Burma, and it long has. The connection between George Orwell and Burma is not simply metaphorical, of course; George Orwell's mother was born in Burma, and he was shaped by his experiences there as a young man working for the British Imperial Police. Both his first novel, Burmese Days, and the novel he left unfinished upon his death were set in Burma. And then there is the place of Orwell's work in Burma today: Emma Larkin found it a commonplace observation in Burma that Orwell did not write one book about the country but three - the other two being Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. When Larkin quietly asked one Burmese man if he knew the work of George Orwell, he stared blankly for a moment and then said, "Ah, you mean the prophet."
Finding George Orwell in Burma is the story of the year Emma Larkin spent traveling across this shuttered police state using the life and work of Orwell as her guide. Traveling from Mandalay and Rangoon to poor delta backwaters and up to the old hill-station towns in the mountains of Burma's far north, Larkin visits the places Orwell worked and lived, and the places his books live still. She brings to life a country and a people cut off from the rest of the world, and from one another, by the ruling military junta and its network of spies and informers.

Baker
& Taylor

A profile of the police state in Burma and its effect on the writings of George Orwell discusses the author's mother's origins in Burma, Orwell's work with the British Imperial Police, and local reverence for his literary works.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2005
ISBN: 9781594200526
1594200521
Branch Call Number: 915.91 Larkin 2005
Characteristics: 294 pages : illustrations, map ; 23 cm

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Mosaic
Oct 13, 2010

I absolutely loved this book.

The authour uses the works and life of George Orwell to examine the history and present situation of Burma, now Myanmar. I am a huge far of George Orwell so I really enjoyed the authour's examination of his time in Burma in the 1920's. As well, I knew relatively little about Burma and this book opened a whole new world to me in this respect.

It is absolutely frightening how the situation in Burma mirror's Orwell's 1984. In Burma they call Orwell "The Prophet" and rightly so. He wrote 1984 before Burma descended into a totalitarian state, but it is as if the Burmese authorities read 1984 as a guide for how to control an entire nation of people. In reality 1984 shows just what a genius Orwell was. He knew what he was writing about. He experienced it, wrote about it, warned us, and as such, hoped we would take note. Most of us have, but Burma has not - at least not in a democratic sense.

I fear for Burma. They are living in hell. It will take a people's revolution of the utmost extreme to come out from under "Big Brother." I hope they have it in them to do it.

If you want to learn something about the world and get a "world view" then read this book. You will not be disappointed.

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