The Word and the World (Part Two)


The flourishing of an independent publishing industry in the last few years has gone hand in hand with a renewed interest in the art and craft of translation. Penang has an important place in the history of translation in South-East Asia and has therefore the potential to ride a new wave of literary creativity.

Penang emerged as a significant print centre during the nineteenth century. In turn, this helped spur the development of a market for all kinds of published materials. And, as we have seen, this included a significant output of literary work, both in the languages of the peninsula and in translation. But its position was eclipsed – perhaps inevitably – in the process of post-war nation building.

Pre-war Ferment

The years leading up to the Second World War laid the foundations for a newly engaged cultural milieu throughout the Malay peninsula. This was perhaps most obviously articulated in a burgeoning Malay nationalist consciousness , whose embryonic leadership created networks to mould a mass constituency, both in Penang and elsewhere.

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