Ruins in the Jungle: Nature and Narrative

Douglas Kerr

in Asian Crossings

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9789622099142
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9789882206632 | DOI:
Ruins in the Jungle: Nature and Narrative

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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

Chapter.  4199 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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