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City of Heidelberg / Press Release
Apr 08, 2024

Observer / What Media Says
Apr 05, 2024

Sitti Nurbaya: A Love Unrealized

Book / Novel


Sitti Nurbaya: A Love Unrealized

by Marah Rusli
Author: George A. Fowler

Format: Paperback, English
294 page(s)
ISBN/ISBN13: 9798083792/9789798083792
Published Jan 01, 2009 by Lontar Foundation

View on Goodreads | Google Books



First published in 1922, the novel “Sitti Nurbaya: A Love Unrealized,” by Marah Rusli, retains the poignancy that made it a modern Indonesian classic. In terms of its social impact in what was then the Dutch East Indies, “Sitti Nurbaya” may be compared to “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” in the ante-bellum United States. Even to this day, the issues of injustice and indignities suffered by women that this novel raised continue to be debated throughout the country. Rich in description, dense with ironic foreboding and the inexorable workings of fate, Sitti Nurbaya is Samsu and “Sitti Nurbaya”‘s ill-fated love story. But in their wishes, the reader might also also discern young people’s tantalizing dream of what the East Indies society might become, or could become, if only local genius, embodied in a modernizing youth emancipated from stifling traditions, could fuse with European genius in mutual respect and admiration. This too was, of course, a dream never to be realized, and one perhaps which never could have been realized.



This is the story of A Love Unrealized -- but Rusli takes things beyond that, too, and while perhaps not romantically entirely satisfying he does tie up some loose ends to presumably general satisfaction with a nice surprise-twist.
Orthofer, M.A.   in Sitti Nurbaya (Complete Review, May 08, 2015)


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