The Burman: His Life and Notions

The Burman: His Life and Notions

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The Burman: His Life and Notions

The Burman: His Life and Notions

Read FREE!

Excerpt

"The best thing a Burman can wish for a good Englishman," the witty Shway Yoe wrote in 1882, "is that in some future existence, as a reward of good works, he may be born a Buddhist and if possible a Burman."

"It is a common belief," he also recorded, "that no one can speak Burmese well till he chews betel."

Shway Yoe--"Golden Honest" in Burmese--wrote of his beloved Burma with wit, compassion and a genial openness, matched only by his extraordinary grasp of the significant detail, whether he is commenting on the more suitable kinds of foundation-posts (male, female, neuter) on which a happy house may rest; on the extraordinary legal and religious freedom of the Burmese woman and the reasons for her preeminence in many a business situation; or on the tortures of those who, after an impious existence, instead of progressing along the Buddhist road to Nirvana are consigned to the States of Punishment.

The insouciance of the Burman, even in the face of such potential torments, his gracefulness and spirit, his life and indeed his notions themselves were put down by Shway Yoe with a sunniness and a sharpness of vision which have remained unmatched in the literature on Burma.

Herbert Hoover once called the Burmans the "only genuinely happy people in all of Asia." It is only in a felicitous work like Shway Yoe's that one finds a full and detailed documentation for President Hoover's equally felicitous characterization.

There are, to be sure, occasional statements expressing satisfaction at the superiority of the British flag and rule over the manner of governance which characterized the displaced Burmese kings. It is only in the face of this sort of opinion that one comes back to . . .

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