Within Asian and Hindu literature like the literature of other cultures, we often find the values, morality, and principles of proper or right human conduct values by such cultures. From the writings of Confucius to the Noh plays to the epic Ramayana, we see such principles illustrated as a means of helping human beings live a harmonious, peaceful, and moral life.

As a whole Asian literature is a compact of ideas wherein culture, belief,religion, and values collide. This can be reflected from the different writers or authors all over Asia who wants to share thier views, ides, emotion through different literary pieces.

However, this may not be enough to serve as your reference yet this could probabaly help you to get a hint on what to do and what to read.

The Link Between Man to God

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


An Atheist Professor of Philosophy was speaking to ...his Class on the Problem Science has

with GOD, the ALMIGHTY. He asked one of his New Christian Students to stand and . . .
Professor : You are a Christian, aren't you, son ?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you Believe in GOD ?

Student : Absolutely, sir.

Professor: Is GOD Good ?

Student : Sure.

Professor: Is GOD ALL - POWERFUL ?

Student : Yes.

Professor: My Brother died of Cancer even though he Prayed to GOD to Heal him.

Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill.

But GOD didn't. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent )

Professor: You can't answer, can you ? Let's start again, Young Fella.

Is GOD Good?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Is Satan good ?

Student : No.

Professor: Where does Satan come from ?

Student : From . . . GOD . . .

Professor: That's right. Tell me son, is there evil in this World?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn't it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student : Yes.

Professor: So who created evil ?

(Student did not answer)

Professor: Is there Sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness?

All these terrible things exist in the World, don't they?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who Created them ?

(Student had no answer)

Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to Identify and Observe the World around you.

Tell me, son . . . Have you ever Seen GOD?

Student : No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever Heard your GOD?

Student : No , sir.

Professor: Have you ever Felt your GOD, Tasted your GOD, Smelt your GOD?

Have you ever had any Sensory Perception of GOD for that matter?

Student : No, sir. I'm afraid I haven't.

Professor: Yet you still Believe in HIM?

Student : Yes.

Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol,

Science says your GOD doesn't exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student : Nothing. I only have my Faith.

Professor: Yes,Faith. And that is the Problem Science has.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as Heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student : And is there such a thing as Cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student : No, sir. There isn't.

(The Lecture Theatre became very quiet with this turn of events )

Student : Sir, you can have Lots of Heat, even More Heat, Superheat, Mega Heat, White Heat,

a Little Heat or No Heat.

But we don't have anything called Cold.

We can hit 458 Degrees below Zero which is No Heat, but we can't go any further after that.

There is no such thing as Cold.

Cold is only a Word we use to describe the Absence of Heat.

We cannot Measure Cold.

Heat is Energy.

Cold is Not the Opposite of Heat, sir, just the Absence of it.

(There was Pin-Drop Silence in the Lecture Theatre )

Student : What about Darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as Darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is Night if there isn't Darkness?

Student : You're wrong again, sir.

Darkness is the Absence of Something

You can have Low Light, Normal Light, Bright Light, Flashing Light . . .

But if you have No Light constantly, you have nothing and its called Darkness, isn't it?

In reality, Darkness isn't.

If it is, were you would be able to make Darkness Darker, wouldn't you?

Professor: So what is the point you are making, Young Man ?

Student : Sir, my point is your Philosophical Premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?

Student : Sir, you are working on the Premise of Duality.

You argue there is Life and then there is Death, a Good GOD and a Bad GOD.

You are viewing the Concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure.

Sir, Science can't even explain a Thought.

It uses Electricity and Magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one.

To view Death as the Opposite of Life is to be ignorant of the fact that

Death cannot exist as a Substantive Thing.

Death is Not the Opposite of Life: just the Absence of it.

Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your Students that they evolved from a Monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the Natural Evolutionary Process, yes, of course, I do.

Student : Have you ever observed Evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shook his head with a Smile, beginning to realize where the Argument was going )

Student : Since no one has ever observed the Process of Evolution at work and

Cannot even prove that this Process is an On-Going Endeavor,

Are you not teaching your Opinion, sir?

Are you not a Scientist but a Preacher?

(The Class was in Uproar )

Student : Is there anyone in the Class who has ever seen the Professor's Brain?

(The Class broke out into Laughter )

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor's Brain, Felt it, touched or Smelt it? . . .

No one appears to have done so.

So, according to the Established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol,

Science says that You have No Brain, sir.

With all due respect, sir, how do we then Trust your Lectures, sir?

(The Room was Silent. The Professor stared at the Student, his face unfathomable)

Professor: I guess you'll have to take them on Faith, son.

Student : That is it sir . . . Exactly !

The Link between Man & GOD is FAITH.

That is all that Keeps Things Alive and Moving.


I believe you have enjoyed the conversation, and if so,

you'll probably want your friends/colleagues to enjoy the same. Won't you?

Forward them to increase their knowledge, or FAITH.

That student was Albert Einstein. :)

Singaporean Fiction

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fiction writing in English did not start in earnest until after independence. Short stories flourished as a literary form, the novel arrived much later. Goh Poh Seng remains a pioneer in writing novels well before many of the later generation, with titles like If We Dream Too Long (1972) – widely recognised as the first true Singaporean novel – and A Dance of Moths (1995).

Beginning as a short story writer, Penang-born Catherine Lim has been Singapore's most widely read author, thanks partly to her first two books of short stories, Little Ironies: Stories of Singapore (1978) and Or Else, The Lightning God and Other Stories (1980). These two books were incorporated as texts for the GCE 'O' Levels. Lim's themes of Asian male chauvinistic gender-dominance mark her as a distant cousin to Asian-American writers such as Amy Tan. She has also been writing novels, such as The Bondmaid (1998) and Following the Wrong God Home (2001), and publishing them to an international audience since the late 1990s.

Han May is the pseudonym of Joan Hon who is better known for her non-fiction books. Her science-fiction romance Star Sapphire (1985) won a High Commendation Award from the Book Development Council of Singapore in 1986, the same year when she was also awarded a Commendation prize for her better-known book Relatively Speaking on her family and childhood memories.

Rex Shelley hails from an earlier colonial generation, although he began publishing only in the early 1990s. A Eurasian, his first novel The Shrimp People (1991) examines the regional Eurasian community and their experience in Singapore. The book won a National Book Prize. His three other novels, People of the Pear Tree (1993), Island in the Centre (1995) and River of Roses (1998) all examine similar themes of the Eurasian community in the Southeast Asia region. He has won the S.E.A. Write Award in 2007.

Haresh Sharma is a playwright who has written more than fifty plays that have been staged all over the world, including Singapore, Melbourne, Glasgow, Birmingham, Cairo and London.[1] In May 2010, his highly acclaimed play Those Who Can't, Teach was published in book form by the independent publisher Epigram Books.

Su-Chen Christine Lim's works consider varied themes surrounding issues of gender, immigration and orthodoxy. In 1993, her novel, Fistful of Colours, was awarded the first Singapore Literature Prize. Her other novels take up the relationship between the Malays and Chinese immigrants in colonial Malaya, and the issue of land (A Bit of Earth).
Gopal Baratham, a neurosurgeon, started as a short story writer and later wrote politically-charged works like A Candle or the Sun (1991) and Sayang (1991), which courted some controversy when they were first published.

Jean Tay is an economist-turned-playwright. Her play Everything but the Brain won the Best Original Script at The Straits Times' Life! Theatre Awards in 2006. Two of her plays, Everything but the Brain and Boom, were published in book form by the Singapore-based independent publisher Epigram Books.

Augustine Goh Sin Tub who began his writing career writing in Malay, burst on the literary scene after his retirement with more than a dozen books of short stories, most of which were founded on his own personal history, thus making them part fiction and part non-fiction. Works like One Singapore and its two sequels One Singapore 2 and One Singapore 3 have found fans among the different strata of Singapore society and well acclaimed by all.
Around this time, younger writers emerged. Claire Tham and Ovidia Yu wrote short stories, while playwright Stella Kon put forth her lesser-known science-fiction novel, Eston (1995). Of the younger generation, Philip Jeyaretnam has shown promise but has not published a new novel since Abraham's Promise (1995). His first two books, First Loves (1987) and Raffles Place Ragtime (1988), were bestsellers in Singapore.

Kelvin Tan, a musician and playwright, has been sporadically in sight, publishing the works All Broken Up and Dancing (1992) and the Nethe(r);R (2001). Colin Cheong can perhaps lay claim to being one of Singapore's most prolific contemporary authors, releasing three novels, one novella, two short story collections, and dozens of non-fictional works thus far. He won the Singapore Literature Prize in 1996 for his travel diary-like novel Tangerine. Daren Shiau's Heartland (1999) traces an eighteen-year-old's rites of passage from junior college through to enlistment and thereafter. The novel has been selected to be a set text at secondary school level.

Hwee Hwee Tan graduated with a First Class Honours from the University of East Anglia, and a Masters from Oxford University. She grew up in Singapore and in the Netherlands, and her cosmopolitan experience can be readily seen in her novels. Her snazzy, humorous prose can be read in Foreign Bodies (1997) and Mammon Inc. (2001), both published by Penguin Books. Simon Tay, currently the chairperson of Singapore Institute of International Affairs and a former nominated Member of Parliament, has a short story collection and a novel under his belt. These are Stand Alone (1991) and City of Small Blessings (2009).

Singaporean Drama

Drama in English found expression in Goh Poh Seng, who was also a notable poet and novelist, in Robert Yeo, author of 6 plays, and in Kuo Pao Kun, who also wrote in Chinese, sometimes translating his works into English. The late Kuo was a vital force in the local theatre renaissance in the 1980s and 1990s. He was the artistic director of The Substation for many years. Some of his plays, like The Coffin is Too Big for the Hole (1984) and Lao Jiu (1990), have been now considered classics. Stella Kon gained international fame with her now-famous play Emily of Emerald Hill: a monologue. About an ageing Peranakan matriarch, it has been produced in Scotland, Malaysia and Australia. The sole character has been played by men as well as women.

Story For Children

Children's literature in Singapore has gained momentum in recent years due to increased interest in the genre generated by the First Time Writers and Illustrators Initiative which discovered acclaimed writers such as *Adeline Foo The Diary of Amos Lee, *Jin Pyn The Elephant and the Tree, and *Emily Lim Prince Bear and Pauper Bear.*Jessie Wee, one of the pioneers of children's literature, rereleased her popular Mooty Mouse series with Marshall Cavendish in 2009. According to the National Library Board, other prominent and prolific children's authors include Patricia Maria Tan, Chia Hearn Chek, Ho MinFong and Bessie Chua.

Poetry in Singapore

Singaporean literature in English started with the Straits-born Chinese community in the colonial era; it is unclear which was the first work of literature in English published in Singapore, but there is evidence of Singapore literature published as early as the 1830s. The first notable Singaporean work of poetry in English is possibly F.M.S.R., a pastiche of T. S. Eliot by Francis P. Ng, published in London in 1935. This was followed by Wang Gungwu's Pulse in 1950.

With the independence of Singapore in 1965, a new wave of Singapore writing emerged, led by Edwin Thumboo, Arthur Yap, Robert Yeo, Goh Poh Seng, Lee Tzu Pheng and Chandran Nair. It is telling that many critical essays on Singapore literature name Thumboo's generation, rightly or wrongly, as the first generation of Singapore writers. Poetry is the predominant mode of expression; it has a small but respectable following since independence, and most published works of Singapore writing in English have been in poetry.

There were varying levels of activity in succeeding decades, with poets in the late 1980s and early 1990s including Simon Tay, Leong Liew Geok, Koh Buck Song, Heng Siok Tian and Ho Poh Fun. In the late 1990s, poetry in English in Singapore found a new momentum with a whole new generation of poets born around or after 1965 now actively writing and publishing, not only in Singapore but also internationally. Since the late-1990s, local small presses such as Firstfruits and Ethos Books have been actively promoting the works of this new wave of poets. Some of the more notable include Boey Kim Cheng, Yong Shu Hoong, Alvin Pang, Cyril Wong, Felix Cheong and Alfian bin Sa'at (also a playwright). The poetry of this younger generation is often politically aware, transnational and cosmopolitan, yet frequently presents their intensely focused, self-questioning and highly individualised perspectives of Singaporean life, society and culture. Some poets have been labeled Confessional for their personalised writing, often dealing with intimate issues such as sexuality.

Cambodian Literature

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Module no. 9: Cambodian Literature
Posted by: Beverly Abelon

File:Fronton Cambodge Musée Guimet 9972.jpg
Cambodian or Khmer literature has a very ancient origin. Like most Southeast Asian national literatures its traditional corpus has two distinct aspects or levels:

The written literature, mostly restricted to the royal courts or the Buddhist monasteries.
The oral literature, which is based on local folklore. It is heavily influenced by Buddhism, the predominant religion, as well as by the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Ancient stone inscriptions

A testimony of the antiquity of the Khmer language are the multitude of epigraphic inscriptions on stone. The first written proof that has allowed the history of the Khmer empire to be reconstructed are those inscriptions.

These writings on columns, stelae and walls throw light on the royal lineages, religious edicts, territorial conquests and internal organization of the kingdom.

Buddhist texts
Following the stone inscriptions, some of the oldest Khmer documents are translations and commentaries of the Pali Buddhist texts of the Tripitaka written in the Khmer script.

These texts were written with stencils by the monks on palmyra palm leaves. They were kept in various monasteries throughout the country and many did not escape the destruction of the Khmer Rouge.

The Reamker or Ram Ker (Rama's fame) is the Cambodian version of the Ramayana, the famous Indian epic. The Reamker comes in rhymed verses and is staged in sections that are adapted to Cambodian dance movements interpreted by local artists.

The Reamker is the oldest form of Cambodian theatre. The Robam Sovann Maccha - a certain dance from the Reamker about Hanuman and Suvannamaccha, the golden mermaid, is one of the most renowned pieces of classical dance in Cambodia.

Court literature
King Thommaracha II (1629–1634) wrote a poem directed to the Khmer young generation which is still a well loved traditional piece of poetry.

King Ang Duong (1841–1860) is known in Khmer literature for being not only a king but a famous classical writer in prose. His novel Kakey or Ka key (from the Sanskrit word for a "female crow"), is inspired in a Jataka tale and has elements of regional folktales. It narrates the story about a woman that is unfaithful to her husband and ends up being punished by him for her betrayal. It contains specific moral lessons that were used in texts in Cambodian schools. Kakey social norms were traditionally taught to high-born young Khmer girls and the story's values have cultural relevance even in present times.

Another work by Ang Duong, also probably inspired in an ancient legend, is Puthisen Neang Kong Rey, a novel about a faithful wife ready to sacrifice her life for her husband. Khmer poets and songwriters have used the words "Kakey" for a woman who is unfaithful to her man and "Neang Kong Rey" for a very faithful woman.

Popular legends

Vorvong & Sorvong Tale illustration. Khmer 19th century drawing.

Cambodia had a rich and varied traditional oral literature. There are many legends, tales and songs of very ancient origin that were not put into writing until the 19th and 20th centuries and that until then had been memorized and told for generations.

Many of these tales borrow features and plots from the Indian epics Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as from the Buddhist Jataka tales. They also often show Siamese influence.

The oral-tradition legends were often extremely long stories in rhyming verses. Their heroes were mostly princes and supernatural beings and the scenarios were often connected to the palaces and the monasteries. One important purpose of these legends and stories handed down for centuries, was to transmit norms and values. Most stories emphasize the peaceful resolution of conflicts. References to geographical landmarks and the meanings of the names of Cambodian locations were also transmitted through the traditional tales.
One of the most representative of these tales was the story of Vorvong and Sorvong, a long story of the Khmer oral tradition about two Khmer princes that fell into disgrace, but after a series of ordeals regained their status. Vorvong and Sorvong was first put into writing by Auguste Pavie as "Vorvong and Saurivong"; this French civil servant claimed that he had obtained the folk legend version he wrote down from a certain "Old Uncle Nip" in Somrontong District. This story was put into writing in Battambang.

There are two hills in Kirirom National Park, Phnom Sruoch District, Kampong Speu Province, named after the two heroic princely brothers, Vorvong and Sorvong.

Another Khmer folktale with a local mountain as a reference is Puthisan Neang Kong Rei.

In 2006 the Vorvong and Sorvong story was enacted in dance form by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia.

Tum Teav is a classic tragic love story set in Kampong Cham that has been told throughout the country since at least mid 19th century. It is based on 17th or 18th century poem of uncertain origin, probably having originated in a more ancient Cambodian folk legend. Nowadays Tum Teav has oral, literary, theatre, and film versions in Khmer. Although its first translation in French had been made by Étienne Aymonier already in 1880, Tum Teav was popularized abroad when writer George Chigas translated the 1915 literary version by the venerable Buddhist monk Preah Botumthera Som or Padumatthera Som, known also as Som.

Modern literature

The era of French domination brought about a requestioning of the role of the literature in Cambodia. The first book in the Khmer script in a modern printing press was printed in Pnom Penh in 1908. It was a classical text on wisdom, "The recommendations of Old Mas", published under the auspices of Adhémard Leclère.

The influence of French-promoted modern school education in Cambodia would produce a generation of novelists in the Khmer language beginning in the early decades of the 20th century. These new writers would write in prose, illustrating themes of average Khmer people, set against scenarios of ordinary Cambodian life.

The clean break with the ancient Indian and Siamese influence was not abrupt. Some of the first modern Cambodian literary works keep the influences of the versified traditional literature, like the 1911 novel Dik ram phka ram (The Dancing Water and the Dancing Flower), Tum Teav (1915) by the venerable Som, the 1900 work Bimba bilap (Bimba's Lamentation) by female novelist Sou Seth, or even Dav Ek by Nou Kan, which appeared in 1942.

1. What is the big contribution of buddhism to cambodian literature?
2. What is the popular legend in Cambodia?
3. Give atleast one writer during King Ang Duong era.

Taiwan Literature

Module no. 8: Taiwan Literature
Posted by: Beverly Abelon

File:1600 drawing of Dutch ships in Taiwan.jpgLiterature of Taiwan refers to the literature published in or particular to Taiwan. As mainland China and Taiwan share a written language of Chinese and much of the Chinese cultural heritage, literature in Taiwan is largely similar to the literature in mainland China. The literature taught in Taiwanese schools is classic and modern Chinese literature with some local works. However, due to political sensitivities, literature relating to politics on mainland China or communism was banned until the 1980s.

The Taiwanese literature movement (also Taiwan literature movement, Nativist literature movement) refers to the effort of authors, poets, dramatists, musicians, and publishers in Taiwan to establish recognition of a distinctly Taiwanese body of literature. The movement was the subject of considerable international as well as domestic debate in the 1970s and 1980s.

"If You Would Ask"  by Lee Min-yung

If you ask
 Who is the father of the island of Taiwan
 I will tell you
 The sky is the father of the island of Taiwan
 If you ask
 Who is the mother of the island of Taiwan
 I will tell you
 The ocean is the mother of the island of Taiwan
 If you ask
 What is the past of the island of Taiwan
 I will tell you
 Blood and tears drop on the feet of the history of Taiwan
 If you ask
 What is the present of the island of Taiwan
 I will tell you
 Corruption in power is eroding the Taiwanese soul
 If you ask
 What is the future of the island of Taiwan
 I will tell you
 Step out on your feet, the road is open to you.

(Translation: Joyce Huang)

Authors saw that much of the history and tradition of the island was being ignored or suppressed in government-sponsored education. In their work they sought to carry forward this distinct Taiwanese cultural identity that existed apart from the colonizing efforts of China and Japan. Just as their predecessors in the 1920s had incurred official sanction from the Imperial Japanese government then ruling the island, authors in this new movement worked against the bans imposed by the authoritarian Kuomintang regime and were targeted for criticism by the Communist government in China. The movement is closely associated with the emergence of Taiwan's democracy in the 1990s. Figures associated with the Taiwanese literature movement includes
 Lee Min-yung, Tseng Kuei-hi, Yang-Min Lin, Wu Ying-tao, Lin Chi-yang (pen name: Xiang Yang), Tyzen Hsiao (composer),Li Kuei-Hsien.
 Authors sought to gain acceptance for the Taiwanese Hokkien language along with other languages encountered on the island (aboriginal languages and Hakka). These, the mother tongues of the majority of the island's natives, became in their hands the vehicles for serious literature, including essays, plays, and epic poetry. They made the island itself the center of their perspective on history and looked to local traditions and lore as fuel for creative ideas.

Give your own opinion with regard to the literary culture of Taiwan and China.