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Asian CrossingsTravel Writing on China, Japan and Southeast Asia$
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Steve Clark and Paul Smethurst

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9789622099142

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789622099142.001.0001

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Ruins in the Jungle: Nature and Narrative

Ruins in the Jungle: Nature and Narrative

(p.131) 8 Ruins in the Jungle: Nature and Narrative
Asian Crossings

Douglas Kerr

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter sets the reflective colonial traveler in the perplexing space of the jungle. The issue here is the representations of the jungle, and these constitute a discourse and a tradition which embrace fictional and non-fictional writing. To read about the jungle is often to be struck by a recurrent figure of ingestion, an anxiety about being swallowed up by the scene of nature, never to reappear. The story of the fall of Angkor is then, like Kipling's “Recessional”, a warning of what may befall a proud empire — the ruins in the jungle performing the function of the emblematic skull at the feast — but there is also a sombre gratification in contemplating the mutability of secular might. As for Hugh Clifford, of course it was the power of the British Empire that had enabled him in the first place to travel to and write about the ruins of imperial Angkor.

Keywords:   jungle, Hugh Clifford, imperial Angkor, Kipling, ruins, British Empire

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