”A Hanging” (Orwell 1931)

A Kind of Compulsion, The Complete Works, vol. X, artikel 108, s. 207-210.

I augusti 1931 publicerades Orwells första lilla mästerstycke, essän ”A Hanging” som skildrar en upplevelse från Orwells tid i Burma. Det är den första centrala texten i Orwells ambivalenta uppgörelse med den brittiska imperialismen. (se även artikel 86 (maj 1929) för ekonomisk och politisk analys av det brittiska styret i Burma)

It was about forty yards to the gallows. I watched the bare brown back of the prisoner marching in front of me. He walked clumsily with his bound arms, but quite steadily, with that bobbing gait of the Indian who never straightens his knees. At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working—bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming—all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth-of-a-second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned—reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone—one mind less, one world less.

Projekt: The Complete Works of George Orwell

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