Course overview

Study of George Orwell’s early novel “Burmese Days” In the autumn of 1922 a young man sailed from Birkenhead to Rangoon. He was nineteen years old and about to join the Indian Imperial Police. His name was Eric Blair. Twelve years later Harper Brothers in New York published a novel called Burmese Days. No one in England had been keen to publish the novel. Its author was a little-known man called George Orwell. In the years that followed, Burmese Days turned out to have many publishers and many readers. In this course we shall consider how Eric Blair's five years of colonial service lent itself to the creation of George Orwell and why Burmese Days, which had such an unpromising beginning, is of perhaps more interest to us than it was to the reader of 1934. With Guest Speaker Virginia Gay.

Course description

George Orwell is one of the most widely read authors of our time. In this course we shall consider one of his early novels. It is called Burmese Days and it unfolds in a country which is now known to us as Myanmar.

As an early work set in a British colony of the 1920s, Burmese Days gives insight into George Orwell's development as both a novelist and a political essayist. It lays a backdrop for the more famous novels, Animal Farm and 1984, which were to follow. It is revealing too about an otherwise silent period in the early life of a complex man.

We shall work in the following ways:

• In group discussion

• In short tutor presentations

• In group exercises

• In close reading

There are no requirements for this course. If you can, please do begin reading Burmese Days before your first class. It will add to your pleasure if you come prepared to exchange views with other learners in the class. Burmese Days is easy to find in physical editions of all kinds as well as audio and online editions.

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