Monologue, Dialogue, and Tran Vietnam
Wolters, O. W.
O. W. Wolters was a twentieth-century historian of early Southeast Asia who began his academic career with the study of early commercial relations in the Malay world and the maritime empire of Srivijaya, which dominated the Straits of Malacca and neighboring seas for several centuries. During the last twenty-five years of his life, he became interested in the Tran dynasty of Vietnam (1225-1400). From 1976 to 1996, he published twelve articles about the Tran dynasty. When he died in 2000, he left a nearly-completed manuscript of a book-length work about that dynasty, which is herewith made available to the world of readers. What makes this manuscript particularly interesting is how the author shaped a work of historical research into what he liked to call a novel. He became convinced that there was a certain way of thinking and speaking that was distinctive to educated people in the Tran period, and he believed that the best way to present this was through conversational dialogue. He further presents the Tran way of thinking as a critical perspective on the regimes that followed. This manuscript also contains self-reflexive meditations on what the author was endeavoring to achieve and his critique of his success in doing so. He offers readers a rare glimpse into the craftsmanship of the most creative and adventurous scholar of early Southeast Asia in his generation.
A manuscript comprised of materials completed by O. W. Wolters before his death.