ABSTRACT

This study examines Orwell’s vision of China from his first novel Burmese Days (1933) to his final novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and argues that Orwell’s presentation of China/Chinese-ness proceeded through three stages. As a child and teenager growing up in the opening decades of the twentieth century, he encountered a late-Victorian Orientalist China which proliferated in music hall shows, colonial exhibitions, boys’ adventure magazines, and other aspects of the popular culture, and he documented these stereotypical representations in his essays and other non-fiction prose writings. Later, during his five years in Burma from 1922-27, he acquired a more informed understanding of China and Chinese culture, and he continued to add to his knowledge following his return from the East through readings and personal contacts with Chinese intellectuals and British China experts. Finally, during the last decade of his career when he emerged as an influential political writer and public intellectual, he became interested in China as a geopolitical concept. This resulted in the vision of Eastasia as a global power in his last novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. Throughout this study, the importance of this theme as an interesting barometer of Orwell’s maturation as a writer is emphasized. 

KEYWORDS: George Orwell, the Western imaginary of China, Burmese Days, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell’s reception in China, Orwellian China