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Marco Kartodikromo

Writer



Known by his pen name Mas Marco, was an Indonesian journalist and writer.

Born to a low-ranking priyayi (noble) family in Blora, Dutch East Indies, Kartodikromo’s first employment was with the national railway. Disgusted by the racism shown there, in 1911 he moved to Bandung and found work as a journalist for Medan Prijaji. The following year he moved to Surakarta and worked with two publications, Saro Tomo and Doenia Bergerak; he soon began to write pieces critical against the Dutch colonial government, which led to his arrest. After a period as a correspondent in the Netherlands, Kartodikromo continued his journalism and critique of the government; he also wrote several pieces of fiction. Involved with the Communist Party of Indonesia, after a 1926 communist-led revolt Kartodikromo was exiled to Boven-Digoel prison camp in Papua. He died in the camp of malaria in 1932.

Kartodikromo, who preferred writing in Malay, experimented with new phrasings at a time when the state-owned publisher Balai Pustaka was attempting to standardise the language. According to literary critic Bakri Siregar, he was the first Indonesian writer to openly criticise the Dutch colonial government and the traditional form of feudalismpractised in the country. For this vocal criticism, the Dutch government decried him as a “crazy” man who could spark unrest among the native populations.

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