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Burmese Literature

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Saturnina Rodil

on 9 October 2011

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Transcript of Burmese Literature

21st Century Event
2005 Junta moves the capital to Naypyidaw
2007 Junta suppresses anti-governments protest, killing scores of protesters, including Buddhist monks
2008 2008 Constitutions reserves 25% of the seats in a bicameral Hluttaw to the military
Cyclone Nargis kill nearly 140,000 people and devastates the Irrawaddy delta
2011 31 January: The first session of Pyidaungsu Hluttaw (parliament) convenes Burma Literature Southeastern Asia, bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand 1824-1886 Britain colony (62 years)
-1937 province of India
self-governing colony
-1948 independence
1962-1988 Gen. Ne Win as military ruler
then as self-appointed president
1990 Multiparty legislative election with NLD National League for Democracy winning 1989-1995 2000-2010-- Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest
2007 - govt. suppressed the protest led by Buddhist monks and prodemocracy activists Literature of Burma
--spans over a millenium
--historically influenced by Indian and Thai cultures (e.g. Ramayana)
--Burmese language adopted from Pali
--reflect local folklore and culture
--important to Burmese life steeped in the Pali Canon of Buddhism
--played a key role in disseminating nationalism during colonial era, e.g. Thakin Kodaw Hmaing: critic of British colonialism Major classification of Burmese Literature
1. Classical
2. Colonial
3. Post Colonial Burma / Myanmar National races -- 135
Main: Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Chin, Bamar, Mon, Rakine and Shan
57 million Myanmar Burmese people
100 Myanmar ethnic groups
Religion: Buddhist, Christian and Muslim
Language Burmese (Myanmar) and minority group languages People Politics Literature: Origin / Influence the Ministry of Information, which censored works according to three primary objectives that aimed to promote socialism:[5]

To introduce necessary bills, acts and orders concerning literature and information agencies.
To promote participation of the people in the construction of the socialist state.
To defend the socialist system from its ideological enemies. Early literature during the Bagan dynasty--proses recording monarchical merit acts and poetic works, the earliest of which was Yakhaing minthami eigyin (Cradle Song of the Princess of Arakan), dated to 1455.[ Inge Sargent, "My Life as a Shan Princess" 1994 University of Hawaii Press religious works generally derived from the Jataka tales.[ 15 th century --literature grew more liberal and secular, poetry became the most popular form of literature in Burma. The flexibility of the Burmese language, because of its monosyllabic and tonal nature, and its lack of many consonantal finals allowed poetry to utilise various rhyming schemes. By the 15th century, four primary genres of poetry had emerged, namely pyo (poems based on the Jataka Tales, linka (လင်္ကာ metaphysical and religious poems), mawgoun (historical verses written as a hybrid of epic and ode), and eigyin (lullabies of the royal family). Courtiers also perfected the myittaza (မေတ္တာစာ), a long prose letter. Buddhist monks were also influential in developing Burmese literature. When Burma became a colony of British India, Burmese literature continued to flourish, even though the institution of the Burmese monarchy, the leading patron of Burmese arts and literature in pre-colonial times, had been dismantled. In 1910, J S Furnivall established the Burma Research Society, which further emboldened the Burmese to protect their literary and cultural heritage.[1] Beginning in the 1920s, a nationalist movement emerged, and this influence became evident in modern novels, short stories, and poems. At the University of Rangoon, student writers continued to develop new forms of Burmese poetry. A major landmark in Burmese literature was called the Hkit san (Testing the Times, ခေတ်စမ်း) movement, a search for a new style and content, led most notably by Theippan Maung Wa along with Nwe Soe, Zawgyi, Min Thu Wun and Mya Kaytu, while still at university and after, in the decade before the Second World War.[6][7] During the Hkit san movement, University of Rangoon students innovated new styles of writing, with shorter and clearer sentences, and unadorned prose, a radical transformation from royal writings of the pre-colonial eras beforehand.[1] The movement for independence continued to fuel Burmese literature. Thakin Kodaw Hmaing was greatly influential in spawning this anti-colonial literature with his powerful laygyo gyi (လေးချိုးကြီး) and htika (ဋီကာ) verses famous for their patriotic and satirical content.[6] Hmawbi Hsaya Thein was particularly influential, with Bazat yazawin (Oral Chronicles), which relied on oral tradition. Novels also came into vogue, with the first being James Hla Kyaw's Maung Yin Maung Ma Me Ma, written in 1904 and inspired by the Count of Monte Cristo. Kala paw wut-htu (ကာလပေါ်ဝတ္ထု, 'modern novels') became popular during this era, with P Moe Nin writing the first Burmese novels to focus on the individual and place that character at the center of the plot.[1] Theippan Maung Wa] and Thein Pe Myint[6] were among other original and innovative authors from the colonial period. Women writers, such as Dagon Khin Khin Lay, who wrote about the hardships of peasant life under colonialism, also gained prominence during the nationalist period leading up to independence.[1] The British author George Orwell, who was severely critical of British colonialism, wrote Burmese Days published in 1935. After independence in 1948, Burmese literature developed further to adopt and assimilate Western styles of writing. A year earlier, the Burmese Translation Society, a government-subsidised organization, was founded to translate foreign works, especially those related to the fields of science and technology. In 1963, a year after the socialist coup, the Society was merged into the Sapay Beikman (စာပေဗိမာန်), a government publishing house. Popular novels are have similar themes, often involving adventure, espionage, detective work, and romance. Many writers also translate Western novels, especially those of Arthur Hailey and Harold Robbins. The flourishing translation sector is the result of the Burmese government, which did not sign the Universal Copyright Convention Agreement, which would have forced Burmese writers to pay royalties to the original writers.[ Short stories, often published in magazines, also enjoy tremendous popularity. They often deal with everyday life and have political messages (such as subtle criticisms of the capitalist system), partly because unlike novels, short stories are not censored by the Press Scrutiny Board. Poetry is also a popular genre today, as it was during the monarchical times, but unlike novels and other works, which use literary Burmese, may use the vernacular, instead of literary Burmese. This reform movement is led by left-leaning writers who believe laymen's language (the vernacular and colloquial form of Burmese) ought to be used instead of formal Burmese in literature. One of the greatest female writers of the Post-colonial period is Journal Kyaw Ma Ma Lay. Khin Myo Chit was another important writer, who wrote, among her works, The 13-Carat Diamond (1955), which was translated into many languages. The journalist Ludu U Hla was the author of numerous volumes of ethnic minority folklore, novels about inmates in U Nu-era jails, and biographies of people working in different occupations. The Prime Minister U Nu himself wrote several politically oriented plays and novels. Other prolific writers of the post-colonial era include Thein Pe Myint (and his The Ocean Traveller and the Pearl Queen, considered a Burmese classic), Mya Than Tint (known for his translations of Western classics like War and Peace), Thawda Swe and Myat Htun. Distinguished women writers, who have also been an ever-present force in Burmese literary history, include Kyi Aye, Khin Hnin Yu, and San San Nweh. The Shut Door
Tin Moe
Translated by Win Pe
Jaunary 15th, 2009


I wish to fly like a bird
to my lover. But this happens
to be the day when
the hunter is out shooting birds.


I wish to go like a flower
to my lover. But this happens
to be the day when
the sly drone is out spoiling flowers.


I wish to twirl like a leaf
to my lover. But this happens
to be the day when
the mad wind is out plucking leaves.


I wish to shine like a moon
for my lover. But this happens
to be the day when
the earth is eclisping the moon.

But say I can get about
to reach my lover,
I find the door to her bower
shut and the lights out. Khin Myo Chit - Electra Triumphs
Literature - Short-Stories

Electra Triumphs
A short story by Daw Khin Myo Chit Major classification of Burmese Literature
1. Classical
2. Colonial
3. Post Colonial
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