Masculine Language in Indonesian Novels: A Feminist Stylistic Approach on Belenggu and Pengakuan Pariyem

Belenggu is a novel written by Armijn Pane in 1938, whereas Pengakuan Pariyem is a lyrical novel written by Linus Suryadi AG that published in 1980. Both are interested to be analyzed from linguistic aspects, especially in relation to gender dan patriarchal issues. In this case, the proper approach is feminist stylistics by Sara Mills since it analyzed literary works from linguistic aspects and then is enlarged on the contexts of surroundings when it was published. The results are that Belenggu basically used masculine languages including word, phrases, clauses, sentences, and discourses when it is related to its contexts. Contextually, Belenggu represented author responses to conditions of his society in which women tried to insist their rights for equality (to men). It also represented author’s critic to women since it is better that women still work domestically and support her husband. Meanwhile, Pengakuan Pariyem is a lyrical novel that considers men and women have mutual relationships although women still work domestically and men work outside.

Silencing and Fake Alternatives in Construction of Indonesian Literature


This paper examines how the early history of modern Indonesian literature has been constructed in line with the colonial’s and authoritarian government’s perspectives and interests by silencing critical literary works and then fabricating narratives as fake alternatives. Focusing on the works by Dutch scholar A. Teeuw and several Indonesian literary critics, prominent and dominant in shaping the discourse of Indonesian literature today, this paper argues that the main narrative of the history of Indonesian literature was founded based on interests, ideology and lies rather than facts. By proving not only the existence of original Indonesian literary works prior to Balai Pustaka but also showing that these marginalised works have high quality, this paper challenges the current dominant and believed narratives of Dutch’s dominant role in forming Indonesian literature, while contributing to the strengthening of push for reconstruction and rewriting of the history of Indonesian literature as we know it.


When was the modern Indonesian literature born? It is the first question to be answered to start the discussion on Indonesian literature. The main narrative is that the history of Indonesia’s literature started in the early 1920s when Balai Pustaka, the publishing house established by the Dutch colonial, and claimed to be the first publisher that printed the first modern Indonesian novels, began to release its Indonesian novels. Regardless of all critics and doubts raised by a number of intellectuals, this timeline which has been used by school textbooks in Indonesia until now shows the narrative has not only been dominant but also fully supported by governments since the colonial era until today, 74 years after the independence of Indonesia, because such a construction meets their interests.

Rivai Apin and the Modernist Aesthetic in Indonesian Poetry

On the cover of a 1980 publication that tells the story of modern Indonesian literature, there is a portrait of the poet Rivai Apin, painted by his brother Mochtar in 1944 (see Chambert-Loir 1980). It shows Rivai as a youth of seventeen, dressed in the heavy calico drill shirt of the war years, standing before a well-stocked bookcase, with his eyes fixed on the pages of an open book he is holding. In his foreword to the publication, Henri Chambert-Loir comments that the image draws attention to one of the most striking aspects of modern Indonesian literature: it is a literature of extreme youth, which nonetheless has situated itself in its own right alongside the works of world literature. More specifically, we might add that the image evokes the three key elements of the brief modernist turn in modern Indonesian literature: modernism in Indonesia was the product of youth, of war and revolution, and of an unselfconscious appropriation of aspects of European literary modernism of the interwar years. It was a moment of great promise, the point at which the filtering of the outside world through the prism of colonial authority and censorship gave way to a confident assumption of the status of world citizen on the part of Indonesian artists and intellectuals. It was fired by the exhilaration of the new, and the inner realization of a full and complete humanity.


FOULCHER, KEITH. “Rivai Apin and the Modernist Aesthetic in Indonesian Poetry.” Bijdragen Tot De Taal-, Land- En Volkenkunde 157, no. 4 (2001): 771-97.

Cultural Imaginary, the Rule of Law, and (Post-) Colonialism in Indonesia: Perspectives from Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s This Earth of Mankind

This article focuses on culture and rule of law in Indonesia, which provides an excellent case study in colonialism and post-colonialism. The colonial heritage of the Indonesian islands goes back to the early 1500s and lasted for approximately four centuries (Schultz 2002:144- 145) until independence was declared in August 1945 (GoGwilt 1996: 158). This Earth of Mankind by Pramoedya Ananta Toer is an appropriate text through which to view the issues surrounding colonialism and post-colonialism because it represents the struggle of a Native Indonesian with various colonial institutions at the turn of the 19th Century; these struggles have been chronicled by an author who lived through colonial rule, Japanese occupation, and liberation. In addition, the narrative is interesting because Parmoedya1 had been imprisoned by the Colonial Dutch, and then again by Indonesian authorities, for his literary activities (Samuels 1999). This Earth of Mankind, perhaps Pramoedya’s most popular novel, was written (more accurately ‘recited’) during his fourteen-year imprisonment on Buru Island (Lane 1991). Pramoedya has won several writing awards (GoGwilt 1996: 149), and has been nominated several times for the Nobel Prise in literature (BBC News 2006). He ‘has long been recognised as Indonesia’s most significant literary voice’ (GoGwilt 2003: 217).

Pramoedya Ananta Toer and China: The Transformation of a Cultural Intellectual

As one of the most prominent writers in Indonesia, Pramoedya Ananta Toer has been at the center of a number of valuable studies which carefully document his intellectual journey and his place in modern Indonesian cultural history.* 1 It has been generally agreed that the years between 1956 and 1959 were crucial in the evolution of Pramoedya’s cultural and political thinking. In an effort to trace the causes of this change, the existing literature focuses almost exclusively on Indonesia’s turbulent domestic political transformation and its impact on Pramoedya; very little attention has been drawn to an important external source of inspiration that facilitated Pramoedya’s shift to cultural leftism: his perceptions of China and of People’s Republic of China (PRC) literary doctrines. A. Teeuw, an authority on modern Indonesian literature is one of the few scholars who has noticed the critical connection between Pramoedya’s attitude toward the PRC and his changing views regarding Indonesia. He argues that Pramoedya’s 1956 trip to China represented a milestone: “It was only with his return from Peking that the dream of the poet was exchanged for the action of the social fighter.”2 However, Teeuw does not examine in any length why Pramoedya’s China experience was so significant and how his perception of the PRC actually affected his thinking about Indonesia. The lack of close scrutiny on Pramoedya’s complex perceptions of the PRC and their ramifications impedes a better comprehension of Pramoedya and his vital