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Reamker (Rāmakerti), the Cambodian version of the Rāmāyaṇa.* a review article

  • G. E. Marrison

Extract

Mrs. Jacob has provided us with a translation, for the first time in English, of the most important text in classical Cambodian literature, with an introduction and critical notes and lists, which will be of great help to anyone studying the Cambodian text. The Cambodian Rāmāyaṇa was composed anonymously by at least three authors over three centuries, and is divided into two parts. The earliest writer, of the sixteenth century, accounts for about a fifth of the first part, covering the main events of the Bālakāṇḍa and Ayodhyakāṇḍa. It was continued in the seventeenth century with the story up to Rāvaṇa's assembling the remnants of his army for the final battle with Rāma: but Rāvaṇa's death, the rescue of Sītā and her trial by fire, and the triumphant return to Ayodhya, are all missing. The second part of the Cambodian Rāmāyaṇa relates those events from the Uttarakāṇḍa which deal specifically with the later history of Rāma and Sītā: her second rejection and exile, the birth of their two sons, the meeting again, and Sītā's going down into the earth. This part is believed to have been composed in the eighteenth century.

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* Translated by Judith M. Jacob with the assistance of Kuoch Haksrea. (Oriental Translation Fund, New Series. Vol XLV) pp. xxxii, 320. London, The Royal Asiatic Society, 1986. £17.50.

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