Flip through the Pages of World Literature

Explore multicultural world literature: adventures of a Javanese and Malay hero, life of William Shakespeare and the longest, and fullest travel account in Islamic literature.

By UNESCO Memory of the World

Shakespeare purchases New Place 1 (17th century) by Court of Common PleasUNESCO Memory of the World

Significance of World Literature

World literature emerged from the development of global economic and cultural relations. It builds understanding and appreciation of the lives of different people from around the world, helps forms a broader world-outlook, introduces masterpieces of literature, and the reveals factors that influenced literary development.

Panji Tales (Hikayat Kisah Panji) (18th - 19th centuries)UNESCO Memory of the World

Panji Tales

The Panji Tales, also known as Hikayat Kisah Panji, are stories from the 13th century telling of the adventures of the Prince Paji, a Javanese hero, searching for his beloved Princess Candra Kirana, while undertaking various disguises and a range of different names, before the lovers are reunited.

Regional and Southeast Asian Literary and Cultural Treasure

The stories marked a height of Javanese literature, no longer overshadowed by the great Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, known in Java from the 12th century. During the Majapahit Empire, in the 14th-15th centuries, the tales became one of the most popular literatures in Southeast Asia and spread by sea merchants in the 17th-18th centuries.

Hikayat Hang Tuah, page 3 (18th - 20th centuries) by unknownUNESCO Memory of the World

Hikayat Hang Tuah

Hikayat Hang Tuah is the story of an illustrious Malay hero that represents absolute loyalty to the ruler as the ultimate champion of chivalry and obedience to tradition. It’s a Malay literary classic, a traditional Malay epic, a folk tale, and national literary classic.

Hikayat Hang Tuah, page 1 (18th - 20th centuries) by unknownUNESCO Memory of the World

Greatness of the Sultanate of Malacca and the Malays

Hikayat Hang Tuah symbolizes the greatness of the of Sultanate of Malacca during its height in the 15th century in projecting the bravery of the Malays. It’s well-known not only amongst the Malays but also to the people in the Malay Archipelago.

Ralph Brooke's compilation of arms granted by William Dethick (17th century) by Ralph BrookeUNESCO Memory of the World

The Shakespeare Documents

The Shakespeare Documents provide a documentary trail of the life of William Shakespeare (1564-1616).  They’re a key archival source for understanding this English author; who is widely regarded as the greatest dramatist.

Ralph Brooke's compilation of arms granted by William Dethick (18th century)UNESCO Memory of the World

Importance of Shakespeare's Documents

These unique, handwritten Documents provide glimpses into Shakespeare’s personal life, his birth, death, family affairs, property, and business dealings. They offer a narrative of his life and how this inspired and influenced his creative works.

Book of Travels, book cover (17th century) by Evliya ÇelebiUNESCO Memory of the World

Evliya Celebi’s Book of Travels

Evliya Çelebi's Book of Travels, also known as Seyahatname, is the longest and fullest travel account in Islamic literature. It’s an extensive description of the Ottoman Empire and its hinterlands, and an account of the author's peregrinations over roughly 40 years (1640-1680).

Book of Travels, book page 1 (17th century) by Evliya ÇelebiUNESCO Memory of the World

Revealed in the Book of Travels

Seyahatname provides an insight into Ottoman perceptions of the world, not only in obvious areas like geography, topography, administration, urban institutions, and social and economic systems, but also in such domains as religion, folklore, dream interpretation, and conceptions of self.

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UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme is an international initiative launched to safeguard the documentary heritage of humanity against collective amnesia, neglect, the ravages of time and climatic conditions, and willful and deliberate destruction.
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