|Title:|| ||Deeper Truths (Review of Win Pe's "Barafi and Other Stories")
|Date of publication:|| ||January 2007|
|Description/subject:|| ||Master storyteller Win Pe uses the framework of everyday life in Burma as a foundation for exploring the darker side of human nature...|
|Author/creator:|| ||Khin Maung Soe|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"The Irrawaddy" Vol. 15, No. 1|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||26 July 2008|
|Title:|| ||Just Desserts
|Date of publication:|| ||April 2001|
|Description/subject:|| ||Translators note: The literal translation of the title of this story would be 'If you pull out a person's guts, his heart will feel immense pain' - that is, if you are viciously cruel to people they will feel such bitterness in their hearts that they will never forgive you. Although the events that have caused the old man in the story to be cast out by the villagers ostensibly occurred during the Japanese occupation in the 40s, most readers will easily draw parallels between his behavior and the behavior of the army and its ruling body, SLORC, during 1988-9, when this story was written. The author has succeeded in expressing the revulsion felt by vast numbers of ordinary Burmese towards the cruelty of the army, and indicates by the ending of the story her belief that those who choose to live by violence and cruelty can expect to die as violently as they live. The chosen companion of the old man is a tiger who turns on him, and in killing him, is itself killed. We can only assume that the censors failed to spot the subtext of this story, or else believed that it was sufficiently buried for
them to let it through without being accused of incompetence."|
|Author/creator:|| ||Daw San San Nweh (trans. Anna J. Allott)|
|Source/publisher:|| ||"Burma Debate" VOL. VII, NO. 3 SPRING 2001|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||03 June 2003|
|Title:|| ||INKED OVER, RIPPED OUT: Burmese Storytellers and the Censors
|Date of publication:|| ||September 1993|
|Description/subject:|| ||A PEN American Center
Freedom-to-Write Report, with a preface to the Internet edition,
Here are two versions of Anna Allott's 1993 book: an html version without pagination and a Word version which seeks to retain the original format and pagination. Both versions contain the preface to the Internet edition.
"The purpose of this publication on Burmese writing and Burmese censorship is to enable the work of certain Burmese authors, writing since the imposition of military rule in 1988, to be read by a much wider audience than is usually the case, and also to show, through their own words (in translation), how they are continuing to find ways to express their true feelings about what is happening in their country in spite of the very strict and repressive system of censorship that exists there.
Of necessity, in a country where no direct criticism of government policy or of individuals who hold positions of power is permitted, writing is frequently allusive or ironical, so much so that even Burmese readers not keyed into the clues may not appreciate the point of a piece, still less those Burmese who have been living abroad for some time, and still less the foreign reader. A writer in Burma has, therefore, a constant dilemma: he is never quite certain how far he dare go, for, if his criticisms or his protest or his satire is too obvious it will not be approved by the censors and will be forced to lie unpublished in his desk drawer. Worse still, it may even bring about his arrest. On the other hand, if the work is too veiled, or couched in too allegorical or symbolic language, the message he is trying to convey will not be understood. Hence, in this selection for the English reader, it is necessary to provide background information about the writers and the works that have been included in this selection, setting them in the context in which they were written. And this context can be understood only with reference to Burma's recent history, and the system of government control and censorship that has evolved during the last thirty years.
The stories and poems selected for translation have been brought to my attention by a number of lovers of Burmese writing. Some of them have been identified by the readers as carrying a political message, often hidden to the casual reader or to anyone unaware of the issues being addressed in them. Where these pieces have been published in Burma, one assumes the censors either failed to spot the subtext, or if they did not fail, believed that it was sufficiently buried for them to let the pieces through safely, without being accused of being incompetent.
Many of the writers featured here already have their works subjected to close scrutiny by the censors and are identified as being persons to watch. The publication of their works in English, together with my interpretations of their works, may result in their future writings being submitted to even greater scrutiny for hidden meanings. I can only apologize for further adding to their difficulties and stress that the allusions and hidden meanings that I have identified in these stories are drawn from my own interpretation, supported by discussions with other readers, and do not represent explanations by the writers themselves.
Inevitably, the stories represent a very small part of all works written since 1988. They are untypical, in that the majority of pieces published in Burma today do not have any overt or hidden political message, as most works with even a hint of such messages are refused publication. The consequent trivialization of Burmese imaginative literature has been immensely discouraging to all serious and independent-minded writers. Some feel that they can now only produce work that is intrinsically without worth. Others have abandoned original writing and confine themselves instead to translating works from Western literature..."|
|Author/creator:|| ||Anna J. Allott|
|Source/publisher:|| ||PEN American Center|
|Format/size:|| ||html (572k), Word (341K)|
|Alternate URLs:|| ||http://www.ibiblio.org/obl/docs/INKED-OVER.doc|
|Date of entry/update:|| ||27 July 2003|