Perburuan 1950 and Keluarga Gerilya 1950

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Pramoedya Ananta Toer, translated by Benedict Anderson
Published in Southeast Asia Program Publications at Cornell University,
Jun 01, 1983

I’ve been asked: what is the creative process for me, as a writer? This is not an easy question to answer. Whether “formulated” or not, the creative process is always a very private and personal experience. Each writer will have his own experience, again whether “formulated” or not. I’ve been asked to detail the creative process which produced the novels Perburuan [The Fugitive] and Keluarga Gerilya [The Guerrilla Fam ily]. Very well. I’ll answer— even though there’s no real need for other people to know what goes on in my private kitchen. My willingness to respond in this instance is based purely on the public’s right to some comparisons . . . to limit undue onesidedness.

1948. I was 23 at the time— a pemuda who believed wholeheartedly in the nobility of work— any kind of work— who felt he could accomplish^ anything, and who dreamed of scraping the sky and scooping the belly of the earth: a pemuda who had only just begun his career as a writer, publicist, and reporter. As it turned out, all of this was nullified by thick prison walls. My life was regulated by a schedule determined by authorities propped up by rifles and bayonets. Forced labor outside the jail, four days a week, and getting cents for a full day’s labor. Not a glimmer of light yet as to when the war of words and arms between the Republic and the Dutch would end.

I was in despair.

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