Imperial Orwell

  • Paul Melia Escola Superior de Educação Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Rua Prof. Dr. Faria de Vasconcelos Castelo Branco, 6000-266 Portugal Tel. no. 00351 272339100

Abstract

George Orwell’s three accounts of British colonial rule in Burma have been said, not least by the author, to express his revulsion at that regime. While the image given of the British authorities does not offer wholehearted endorsement, many aspects in fact sustain ideas which had been central to pro-colonial literature, and go even further, through the portrayal of characters in accordance with racialist and social Darwinist theories. To some extent the causes of this outlook are open to speculation, but certainly a lingering embitterment to his experiences as a policeman in Burma is evident in his writing, and, above all, a close and honest reading of the texts reveals a side to Orwell that many critics have shown a distinct reluctance to acknowledge. From each of his Burmese stories, although the British are depicted as morally lacking, the indigenous people, including those of mixed race, are resolutely inferior beings: timid, puerile and comical, with a couple of villainous exceptions.Keywords: colonialism, racial discourse, Burma, policeman, empirical

Author Biography

Paul Melia, Escola Superior de Educação Instituto Politécnico de Castelo Branco, Rua Prof. Dr. Faria de Vasconcelos Castelo Branco, 6000-266 Portugal Tel. no. 00351 272339100
I studied English at University College London; my Masters in English literature (mainly on colonialism in the British Empire) was with the Open University in Britain; and I have just finished my PhD in Estudios Ingleses Avanzados (on the Spanish Civil War) at Salamanca University. I have lived in Portugal for 14 years. I am a professor adjunto at the IPCB, Portugal.
Published
2015-12-18
Section
Articles