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Burma Sahib: A Novel por Paul Theroux
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Burma Sahib: A Novel (edição 2024)

por Paul Theroux (Autor)

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704380,656 (4.38)2
"At age nineteen, young Eton graduate Eric Blair set sail for India, dreading the assignment ahead. Along with several other young conscripts, he would be trained for three years as a servant of the British Empire, overseeing the local policemen in Burma. Navigating the social, racial, and class politics of his fellow British at the same time as he learned the local languages and struggled to control his men would prove difficult enough. But doing all of this while grappling with his own self-worth, his sense that he was not cut out for this, is soon overwhelming for the young Blair. Eventually, his clashes with his superiors, and the drama that unfolds in this hot, beautiful land, will change him forever"--.… (mais)
Membro:ThorntonOaks
Título:Burma Sahib: A Novel
Autores:Paul Theroux (Autor)
Informação:Mariner Books (2024), 400 pages
Coleções:Fictiion, A sua biblioteca
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Burma Sahib por Paul Theroux

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What if a one of our greatest authors, say George Orwell, believed that “(t)here’s a short period in everyone’s life when his character is fixed forever.” What if he further believed the critical period for him was 1922-1927 when he was a police officer serving in Burma. What is one to make of the fact that the only works he wrote about that seminal time in his life were one obscure novel and two essays? Well, Paul Theroux takes on the task of putting some flesh on that skeleton with a work of fiction that imagines what that time and place would have been like for a young man named Eric Blair. Who knew that was Orwell’s actual name? Theroux keeps it a secret until the very end.

Theroux gives us a marvelous coming-of-age story with a complex and nuanced protagonist in an exotic setting. Blair is a recent graduate of the elite Eton School. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the wherewithal to enroll in a university, so he gets packed off to Burma as a probationary policeman. He is a naïve, intellectual introvert, who is initially uneasy about his job and suffers several missteps that get him transferred to ever remote postings. Moreover, he increasingly becomes repelled by what he sees of the British Raj in Burma. His colleagues are bullies, racists and hypocrites bent on maintaining order at all costs. Theroux’s Blair, however, is no saint. Often, he goes along to get along. He is embarrassed by his father’s history as a middle level British official in charge of keeping the world supplied with opium; and is tormented by his low status uncle who remains in Burma, but fails at business, and has a mixed-race marriage. Despite these shortcomings, Blair is endearingly normal. He enjoys an active sex life, keeps a dog, chickens, and ducks, and is sensitive about his height —he detests the nickname, “lofty.” He befriends a Burmese entrepreneur and even proposes him for membership in his local club.

Theroux tells the story with a straightforward narrative that builds slowly while providing a sense of a lived experience. As a seasoned travel writer, he is well-equipped to capture the lush settings and local color of Burma. Moreover, as a writer of fiction himself, Theroux is well-acquainted with the psychological intricacies of becoming an author. This is an intelligent portrait of one of our greatest writers. Though fictional, it is totally believable and an enjoyable read. ( )
1 vote ozzer | Apr 17, 2024 |
A man of his times, out of place!

Insecure, bullied ex-Etonian, Eric Arthur Blair (George Orwell) becomes a policeman in Burma. Blair is a tall, gangly chap who finds people and relationships a burden. His inner world is far richer. Blair is withdrawn. His passion is books. That list is certainly edgy. Huxley, Lawrence for a starters. Inside he’s a rebel, an agitator. However he’s nineteen years old and en route to Burma as a training policeman with the Imperial Forces.
“ [Blair’s] detachment remained, the hovering, watchful self, seeing the young man in the jacket and tie on deck, like a character in a story, knowing what the young man was hesitant to admit: that he was uncertain; that he really didn’t have a clue; that he was to be a policeman.
Blair’s life in Burma will be very different to the life he dreams of. A puzzle he has to somehow push through. An outsider trying to find his way in.
Burma has a strong culture dating down through the centuries, rich in food, in color and movement. Paradise with more than a sting in its tail. A culture disdained by its imperial masters. Welcome to the British Raj.
He’ll confront jingoism, culture wars, attitudes to mixed races, women, and troubling juxtapositions about life and viewpoints. He is introduced to pleasures of the flesh, he finds love only to realize its limitations. He canes prisoners and sees himself back at Eton being bullied. He hates his actions. He feels unclean. His conscience is troubled. However his survival is reckoned on sticking with the status quo—the Sahibs.
That means hiding the fact that he has two half caste uncles, and cousins. Relatives he wants to hide for reasons of his own acceptance, as much as for their protection from insular snobbery and disdain.
Burma, part of Britain’s far flung empire, a place the British cling to and impose their rule of law on.
The story of this troubled, non conformist, who conforms in the worst possible way, is broken open in the worst way possible. Blair finally escapes to a different and we can only hope more satisfying future.
Last we see Blair, he is immersing himself in sociological investigations in the north of England. He writes under his other persona, George. The name he gave his writing self in Burma.
An intriguing novel that immerses the reader in the Imperial Police Force and has the main character pondering questions. Yet those questions are silenced, submerged by tradition and rules, unwritten and written. Judgement to the letter of the law with very little scope for compassion. Blair becomes part of the very system he condemns. A proper Burma Sahib, on the outside. Inside he’s a tortured, conflicted soul.
Eric Blair is a character not soon forgotten. George Orwell didn’t. This fictionalised tale of Orwell’s early years is thought provoking and brilliant!

A Mariner Books ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
Please note: Quotes taken from an advanced reading copy maybe subject to change ( )
  eyes.2c | Feb 2, 2024 |
“Don’t let us down, Eric,” his father told him gruffly.

Eric had played his role in school and was now playing his role as a policeman in colonial Burma. And he hated it, all of it. He hated the club but forced himself to go, pretending to care about a billiards game. He abhorred the racism of his superiors, how they held the native’s lives so cheaply, their diminishment of the men as savages, their easy use of the women. Eric mimicked their words publicly and privately mulled on seditious thoughts. He took native lovers, against the rules. His bosses held him accountable for his naivety and errors and the failings of the men who did all the work for him. He was imprisoned as much as the men he arrested. And one day, he dropped his facade and cursed his commander.

Eric had an alter ego–George–who broke rules. After he left Burma, he became George Orwell.

I was captivated by this novelization of Orwell’s early life from a nineteen-year-old beginning a career for which he was entirely unsuited to his leaving Burma at age twenty-five.

Colonialism in all its ugliness is revealed. The details change, but human nature does not. The powerful prey on the weak and vilify those who rise up demanding justice and self-determination. The Colonists justify stealing the country’s wealth by claims of bringing ‘civilization’ and ‘order’ and technology.

Eric’s reading takes us into the pivotal books of the time, D. H. Lawrence and Somerset Maugham and H. G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling and E. M. Forster, and he is both inspired by them and critical of their lack of the deep first-hand knowledge he has gained. Eric begins writing his own novel, hoping his alter ego George will use this hard-earned knowledge to pen truths the others don’t know, the cruelty and inhumane business of empire.

Thanks to the publisher for a free book. ( )
  nancyadair | Jan 8, 2024 |
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George Orwell’s years as a colonial policeman in Burma in the 1920s preoccupied him for the rest of his life. Straight out of Eton, he was thrown into a world that mirrored the public school with its rivalries and floggings; except that now it was the Burmese people who were being flogged.
adicionada por bergs47 | editarThe Guardian, Lara Feigel (Feb 24, 2024)
 

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"At age nineteen, young Eton graduate Eric Blair set sail for India, dreading the assignment ahead. Along with several other young conscripts, he would be trained for three years as a servant of the British Empire, overseeing the local policemen in Burma. Navigating the social, racial, and class politics of his fellow British at the same time as he learned the local languages and struggled to control his men would prove difficult enough. But doing all of this while grappling with his own self-worth, his sense that he was not cut out for this, is soon overwhelming for the young Blair. Eventually, his clashes with his superiors, and the drama that unfolds in this hot, beautiful land, will change him forever"--.

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