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Lao modern literature since 1975

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After 1975 established authors such as Outhine Bounyavong, Dara Viravongs, Pakian Viravongs, Douangdeuane Viravongs and Seree Nilamay resumed their literary activities alongside revolutionary writers such as Phoumi Vongvichit, Souvanthone Bouphanouvong, Chanthy Deuansavanh, Khamlieng Phonsena and Theap Vongpakay. They have since been joined by a younger generation of writers.

Lao literature Under the Royal Lao Government era

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Throughout the Royal Lao Government era, scholars such as Pierre Somchine Nginn and Maha Sila Viravongs continued to transcribe important works of traditional Lao literature which had not previously been available to the general public; many of these were subsequently published under the auspices of the Lao Literary Committee (fore-runner of the Lao Royal Academy, established in 1951) and the newly-established Vientiane General Library (later the National Library).

Lao literature during the French colonial period

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Printing arrived late in Laos; the first Lao publications appeared in the 1920s, but print quality remained relatively poor for decades after this, and during the latter years of the colonial period most French-language government publications were still printed in Vietnam, while Lao-language material was sent to neighbouring Siam.

Lao literature during the Lane Xang era

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The earliest recorded history of the Lao dates from the period immediately following the establishment of the kingdom of Lane Xang in the late 14th century, but the development of an indigenous Lao literary tradition is usually attributed to the reigns of three illustrious kings of the 16th century - Wisunarath (1500-1520), Photisarath (1520-1550) and Sai Setthathirat I (1550-1571).

Early Lao Literature

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As in neighbouring countries, the earliest literature to emerge in what is now the Lao PDR served to perpetuate the various proverbs, myths, legends and cosmology associated with particular ethnic groups. Today several of Laos' ethnic minority groups still preserve a rich tradition of epic stories, performed by village elders who are charged with keeping the ancient art alive.

Lao Literature

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In recent years, western interest in Southeast Asia has grown considerably. Literature from the region, both in academic publications and collections aimed at a more popular audience, has increasingly gained foreign attention. Literature in translation has begun to play a significant role in educating westerners about Southeast Asian culture and society. The increased importance of literature as an educational tool is a reflection not merely of the fact that there is a greater quantity of works available at this time but also of a gradual shift in the nature of Southeast Asian studies itself. Until recently, western readers (and particularly those without knowledge of a Southeast Asian language) had to rely solely on the writing of westerners for their knowledge of the region. In the field of Southeast Asian studies, the voice of the people of Southeast Asia has been conspicuously lacking. This is precisely why literature is not merely an entertaining way to learn about the region, but also unique in its usefulness. Literature in translation serves as a looking glass. Through fiction we have the opportunity both to observe how Southeast Asians view their own cultures and the ways in which they express their views to a Southeast Asian rather than a western audience.

News in literature


Writers' talks pull authors from 6 nations

Google News - Mon, 2012-06-04 03:29
Writers from Thailand, China and Myanmar will join those from Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos at the fourth Indochina Literature Conference to be held in Hue and Da Nang in September. The three observers would help promote literary works and diverse ... catched