For centuries Bali has generated provocative - and often conflicting - images in the minds of ethnographers and travellers alike. Professor Boon places our current understanding of Bali within the context of historical views of Balinese life and religion, beginning with the initial Dutch contacts after 1597. He approaches Balinese culture as a 'social romance' of flexible values and actions keyed to native ideals of an enduring hierarchy. In this way, he explains the changing perspectives of Bali throughout the colonial era; the relationship between marriage and caste; the enthusiasm of various outsiders for Balinese arts and lifestyle; and recent political developments, including communist factions and parties modelled on the idea of an ancestral caste. Based on field work in Indonesia as well as historical research, this book is the first thorough study of Balinese social and cultural dynamics. Professor Boon consolidates approaches from structuralism, comparative literature, interaction theory and the analysis of social organisation and social change in order to demonstrate the complex principles that make this island of enduring interest to students of other societies.