by Lucas Stewart
Myanmar’s first post-independence President, U Nu, recognised the value of good literary translation with the establishment of the Burma Translation Society in 1947. This organisation grew in strength over the next ten years producing high quality volumes of English, French and Russian to Burmese translations of European Classics and Western modernists.
After the military coup in 1962, the philosophy of the ‘Society’ was quickly strangled to the degree that it soon could only translate from a limited, pre-approved list of texts which were not considered ‘harmful to the state of the nation’. Literary translation became another victim of General Ne Win’s socialist ‘way to democracy’.