Abstract

This reflection on Errington's thought-provoking paper, by an intellectual historian and a student of Chinese philosophy, does not dispute her interpretive position on classical Malay literature in general and on hikayat in particular. Rather, it attempts to challenge three salient points of her argument: that the distinction between “oral” and “written” is a hazy one in the paratactic style of the hikayat; that the “images” in this type of literature are flat, repetitive and without content; and that the Malay art of story-telling is diametrically opposed to the rhetorical style of history characteristic of the post-Renaissance West. It is hoped that such a discussion will bring about fruitful encounters between scholars in different fields and disciplines in Asian studies.

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