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Goriaeva L.V. Stamford Raffles as an Example of a “Just Ruler” (According to the Memoir of Abdullah Munshi). Studia Litterarum, 2018, vol. 3, no 4, pp. 76–89. (In Russ.)

DOI: 10.22455/2500-4247-2018-3-4-76-89

Author: Liubov V. Goriaeva
Information about the author:

Liubov V. Goriaeva, PhD in Philology, Leading Research Fellow, Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Rozhdestvenka 12, 107031 Moscow, Russia.

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Received: April 23, 2018
Published: December 25, 2018
Issue: 2018 Vol. 3, №4
Department: World Literature
Pages: 76-89

UDK: 821.411.21
BBK: 83.3(5Маз)52
Keywords: Malay literature, Abdullah Munshi, Thomas Stamford Raffles, memoir, didactics, ideal ruler.


One of the first Malay authors who worked in the genre of documentary prose was publisher Abdullah bin Abdulkadir Munshi (1796–1854). His memoir The Story of Abdullah (Hikayat Abdullah) narrated the events of the first third of the 19 th century, when the Malay world became the arena of confrontation between the two largest colonial powers: the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The author of the book was an eyewitness and participant of these events since he began his career as an employee of the office of Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781–1826), an outstanding British colonial administrator, the legendary founder of Singapore. When writing his memoir, Abdullah followed the canons of traditional Malay adab literature: he stressed the instructive significance of his book as a whole and of those episodes where the “ideal ruler” of the new time, T. St. Raffles, was the main actor. The British statesman became one of the central characters of the book who possessed all the qualities that, according to Abdullah, should have been inherent in the ruler. The author of the memoir discovers in the doings of his hero a number of features proper to the legendary kings of the past that found their reflection in the Malay didactic works of the 17 th century — “Taj as-salatinˮ by Bukhari al-Jawhari and “Bustan as-salatinˮ by Nuruddin ar-Raniri. At the same time, Abdullah clearly saw the fundamental dissimilarity of Raffles and the Malay sultans — holders of absolute power, unable to meet the challenges of the new era. Thus, the writer offered his readers a new standard of an exemplary ruler — active, inquisitive, democratic, and strong-willed.


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