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Author: Stuart Robson
It is just over a century since the first manuscript of Désawarnana (also known as the Nagarakrtagama) was rescued from the sack of the palace at Cakranagara in Lombok. Once its importance for Javanese history was recognized, its place was assured: our picture of the greatness of the Javanese kingdom of Majapahit in the second half of the 14th century is based largely on the evidence of this one text, and it is true to say that this picture has formed an inspiration for modern Indonesians as well. The text is not a literary masterpiece, and it is not typical of its genre; in fact it is unique. One of the reasons for this is the fact that here and there its author, Mpu Prapanca, tells us something about himself, in particular when he accompanies his king as Superintendent of Buddhist Affairs on a long journey through the countryside of East Java in 1359.
Author: Stuart Robson
The personal view of philology presented in the Working Paper is both a stocktaking and a programme for development. At a time when Indonesian and foreign scholars are asking questions about the Indonesian ‘classical literary heritage’, a fresh impulse is needed to propel the work of philologists forward. Their work is to make texts accessible, and they achieve this through both the techniques of presentation and of explanation and interpretation; philology is thus more than mere ‘textual criticism’, according to Stuart Robson.
Existing views are assessed in a critical but balanced manner and fruitful avenues of exploration are pointed to. It turns out that thinking on philology is moving ahead faster than one might suspect, so that the form of the Working Paper is appropriate to suggest an on-going process, where views neglected today may receive more attention tomorrow.
The publication of texts from manuscript materials in Indonesian languages calls for a consideration of method: no one method is prescribed; one has to take account of genre, it is suggested, as well as textual tradition. Furthermore, part of the aesthetic content of a text is lost if we fail to consider how it sounds, its ‘music’. And finally, there is surely room for more literary translations from Indonesian texts—all part of an endeavour to introduce them to a wider audience and to foster a better understanding of their nature and content.
Selected Essays on Javanese Courts
Author: Stuart Robson
This volume contains English translations of a number of Dutch-language articles selected for their relevance to the institution of the Kraton, the Javanese palace complex, as it was towards the end of the colonial period, in the 1930s. The majority of the articles, originally published in the period from 1921 to 1941, relate especially to the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, rather than the Kraton of Surakarta. The reason for this is probably that they are taken mostly from the journal Djåwå, published by the Java Instituut (Java Institute), which was located in Yogyakarta.
The aim of republishing these articles in translation is to make them accessible to a wider audience of scholars interested in Indonesia, in the belief that they contain information of lasting value for the study of the history, in particular the social and cultural history, of Java.
Author: Stuart Robson
Whenever Javanese scholars are asked to name the high points of their literature, almost certainly they will include the Wédhatama. This is because it is considered to contain the ‘highest wisdom’ appropriately cast in a mould of fine poetic language.
The challenge of translation has already been met by several others, so that we can speak of ongoing process of interpretation, in which the present English translation represents only the most recent stage and in turn invites the critics to correct and improve it, as our knowledge of Javanese language and literature grows and deepens. On the other hand, though, any statement on this subject, relating to the highest spiritual truths, can be no more than an approximation; in the end words fail, leaving only something like a star or flame pointing the way onward (compare Wédhatama IV .21, and see the drawing on the front cover).
This working paper offers an English translation, accompanied by the standard Javanese text, for the perusal of students, with a short introduction and a number of explanatory notes intended to aid the process of interpretation.
Author: Stuart Robson
Critical edition and translation of Wanban Wideya. In the extensive introduction, Robson introduces the term Middle Javanese and the Panji story, discusses this Middle-Javanese romance from a literary viewpoint and provides a summary of the plot. Following the text and translation a commentary, a glossary, and a list of names found in the text are given.
The Marriage of Arjuna of Mpu Kanwa
Author: Stuart Robson
The Arjunawiwāha is one of the best known of the Old Javanese classics. This volume presents a new text, based on Balinese manuscripts, with a complete translation, building on the work done by earlier writers. An introduction provides ample background information, as well as an original interpretation of the significance of the text, within its historical and cultural setting. This poem was written by Mpu Kanwa in around A.D. 1030 under King Airlangga, who ruled in East Java. It is Mpu Kanwa’s only known work, and is the second oldest example in the genre of kakawin. The poem is a narrative, but also contains passages of description, philosophical or religious teaching of great interest, as well as remarkable erotic scenes. Parts of the tale have been depicted on early temple reliefs and in paintings, and the text is still recited in Bali by literary clubs and in temple ceremonies.
In: Arjunawiwāha