Ly Theam Teng: A Legendary Khmer Literature Intellectual

Sino-Khmer author Ly Theam Teng wrote a number of books, including novels that have become classics of Cambodian literature.

On May 15, 1930, in Kampong Siem District, Kampong Cham Province, Ly Theam Teng was born to parents who were of Khmer and Chinese descent. His mother’s name was Sok Kim, and his father’s name was Ly Mong.

In the 1940s, Éveline Porée-Maspéro invited him to join the Commission for the Study of Cambodian Customs and Practices when he was undertaking research at the Buddhist Institute.

Later, he founded the Khmer Writers Association, which included an agreement to send their bimonthly publication, Ecrivains Khmers (“Khmer Writers”), to the Library of Congress.

He was among the earliest writers to contribute to Kambuja Suriya, the first Khmer journal of literary criticism. 

He went to the Soviet Union in 1958 to attend the Afro-Asian Writers’ Conference in Tashkent, which was a branch of the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization in line with the non-aligned vision Prince Sihanouk supported at the Bandung conference.

 He traveled to China in June 1962 at the invitation of the China Writers Association, where he was honored by Wan Li and other Chinese leaders, as well as writers like Yang Shuo.

A biography of Krom Ngoy was written in 1966 by Ly Theam Teng using information from his relatives who had continued his lyrical heritage.

The 1965 Opel Rekord was bought by Ly Theam Teng from Lim Leang Chin during 1968.

He published, Outline of the Development of Khmer Literature in 1972, which appears to be the first thorough history of Cambodian literature in both French and English. His writing contributed to establishing a new canon of Cambodian literature.

Works:

  • Romduol Phnom Kulen, Novel, Phnom Penh, 1954
  • Reaksmey Chet, Novel, Phnom Penh, 1955 (1954)
  • The King, Novel, Phnom Penh, 1955
  • Serey Svetchchat, Novel, Phnom Penh, 1955, (1954)
  • Night Dreams, Novel, Phnom Penh, 1955
  • Brief Khmer genealogy, study, 1959
  • Khmer Literature, Literature, 1960
  • Chronicles of Cambodia, Study, 1964
  • Crossing the Clouds, Novel, Phnom Penh, 1966
  • Women and Bopha, Novel, Phnom Penh, 1967
  • Evolution of Khmer Literature, Study, 1972
  • Translate Chenla’s traditional texts 
  • Outline of the Development of Khmer literature, Study, Phnom Penh, 1972

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