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Colonial-era pulp fiction portrays 'technicolor' Myanmar

Ask foreign visitors to Myanmar what literary works they associate with the country and the chances are that most will cite Rudyard Kipling's iconic 1890 poem "Mandalay," or George Orwell's 1934 novel "Burmese Days." Yet, many other Western publications have helped shape Myanmar in the public imagination. These include children's stories, plays, travelogues and memoirs.

Colorful colonial-era pulp magazine covers highlight stories related to Myanmar, or Burma as it was then known (from the author’s collection)

Most of these works have painted a mental picture of Myanmar as a remote land of golden pagodas, gilded Buddhas and picturesque villages. The latter were invariably populated by demure "Burma girls"waiting for their European lovers. In Myanmar's steaming jungles, dacoits (or bandits) lurked among a menagerie of exotic wildlife, all waiting to attack anyone who crossed their paths.

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