Malay Literature: Volume 24 Number 1 June 2011

June 1, 2011


Mohd. Faizal Haji Musa


Akademi Seni Budaya dan Warisan Kebangsaan (ASWARA)

Kejawen (Javanese Sufism) and Perennial Philosophy in Kuntowijoyo’s Khotbah di Atas Bukit

Abstract Khotbah di Atas Bukit (Sermon on a Hill) by Kuntowijoyo was written to foreground transcendental principles, in accordance with the Theory of Transcendental Literature. Transcendental principles are brought to the fore and applied in this work through the use of symbolism. Kuntowijoyo uses a local subject for enquiry, kejawen (Javanese sufism), to address issues of faith and tauhid (Islamic Monotheism or the Oneness of Allah). However, there is some ambiguity in the text which could affect the aspects of tauhid discussed. In presenting the teachings of Sufism, Kuntowijoyo may in the process be misunderstood and consequently considered to subscribe to global theology where tauhid is simplified and religions “combined”. Khotbah di Atas Bukit is a complex work to read because of the overuse of symbolism aimed at obscuring meaning. This kind of symbolism needs to be explained, particularly to readers who have little knowledge of sufism. It is this that makes Khotbah di Atas Bukit a specialized work for a specialized readership.

Keywords: Islamic literature, Islam kejawen, sufism, perennial philosophy, Islamic leadership, tauhid,  Kuntowijoyo, pluralism, mysticism, Transcendental Literature, myth, global religion, orthodox Muslims (the faithful)

 Dr. Mawar Shafei


Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Tradition in the Novels of Anwar Ridhwan and Putu Wijaya

Abstract This paper is the result of a comparative study carried out on the novels of Anwar Ridhwan and Putu Wijaya, writers who represent Malaysian and Indonesian authorship respectively. This study focuses on the inclination of both writers to dignify “tradition” in their work. What is meant by the framework of “tradition” is that both writers source their materials mainly from traditional texts in order to construct the structure of the novels which is the object of our attention. Specifically, the novel Hari-hari Terakhir Seorang Seniman (Anwar Ridhwan) makes references to the romance “Si Gembang” or “Teluk Bidung Kota Lama” while the novel Perang (Putu Wijaya), to the classical text the Mahabharata. Aside that, “tradition” as is presented by the writers in the novels under study, has been identified to take account of the concept of tradition which is the authorship ideology of both writers – Anwar Ridhwan with his concept “kampung halaman Melayu” (Malay hometown), Putu Wijaya with his concept “desa-kala-patra” (found in the Balinese tradition). These “traditions” are anchored in their experimental works which appear to be defying convention; a predilection that clearly is in line with the authorial rhythm of these outstanding writers. The study conducted employs the intertextual framework as well as dialogism advanced by Mikhail Bakhtin and Julia Kristeva; a framework for observing authorship processes that is directed towards the effectiveness of creation theory. The study finds that both writers conform to the cultural traditions of their people, are clearly appreciative of these traditions, perform meaning inversions in the novels examined (the hypertext) which are not evident in the pre-existing text (the hypotext).

Keywords: Anwar Ridhwan, Putu Wijaya, the novel Hari-hari Terakhir Seorang Seniman, the novel Perang, intertextuality, tradition

 Vladimir Braginsky


School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London

Light, Sound and Frangrance: The Impact of Sufism on the Aesthetics of Traditional Malay Literature

Abstract Sufi ideas exerted a great influence on nearly every aspect of traditional Malay literature of the late 16th to the 17th century. Not only Malay literary practice of that age owed much to the Sufi inspiration, equally important is the fact that Sufism brought to life a pre-modern Malay literary theory including, inter alia, fundamental concepts of literary aesthetics. On the basis of a poem by Hamzah Fansuri and Sufi allegories Hikayat Inderaputera and Hikayat Si Burung Pingai the article investigates the Sufi doctrine of imagination as a particular world all of its own, the “aesthetics of light” expressed through specific illumination of portrayed events and “lighting effects”, and the “aesthetics of ecstasy” communicated through acoustic and olfactory images. By embodying these aesthetics in the “flesh and blood” of literary works, their creators not only managed to reveal Sufi doctrines with more clarity and beauty, but also let their audience experience them both intellectually and emotionally.

Keywords: Sufism, traditional Malay Literature, Hikayat Inderaputera, Hikayat Si burung Pingai, literary aesthetics, aesthetics of light, lighting effect

 Hajar Che Man


School of Humanities,

Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Reviewing the Short Story Anthologies of Zurinah Hassan: Convention Versus Innovation

Abstract This discussion will focus on two anthologies produced by Zurinah Hassan entitled Meneruskan Perjalanan (The Continuation of the Journey) (1987) and Menjelang Pemilihan (As the Selection Dawns) (2004). The study will examine the issues of convention and invention that are evident in her short stories. The discussion will thus be divided into two parts. The first relates to convention in terms of the parallelism and acquiescence or obedience of Zurinah Hassan in cultivating issues or conflicts that can be extracted from short stories in both anthologies. The second relates to the context of invention and refers to the discoveries in her written work which have escaped or become free from conventional characteristics. In other words, her creativity has achieved a new level and is not tied down to conventional rules. The results of this study will assess Zurinah Hassan’s development and the transformation of her talent of authorship that is evident from its creativity, imagination, illusion and fantasy. The existence of improvisation or growth in knowledge, discipline and knowledge of assistance and her experiences in cultivating current issues are also evident. Furthermore, women’s issues are highlighted through the short story genre to be shared especially with other women and with readers in general.

Keywords: Conventional laws, creativity, invention, imagination, illusion, fantasy and genre

 A. Wahab Ali


Muhammad Yusof Ahmad: A Pioneer of Modern Malay Fiction

Abstract This is a study on Muhammad Yusof Ahmad, a pioneer in modern Malay fiction. To explore his contributions, this study focuses on his modern process of creativity, specifically on his formal realism fictions such as his short stories and novelette as we know today. This study is approached via the writer’s biography and linking it to his era, and traditional and western education which had shaped his creative abilities. His main works entitled “Percintaan Lady Brazil”, “Zaman Sari” and “Mencari Isteri” were selected as samples for analysis. This study revealed that Muhammad Yusof’s creativity was based on his own experiences in life. The structure of his stories depicted story structure of his traditional literature and new element of realism made its way in to his structure due to his exposure to western literature. His works were targeted for the new generations, significantly the Malay teachers. His works were early attempts of formal realism in the world of modern Malay literature.

Keywords: Muhammad Yusof Ahmad, Malay literature, Malay fiction, Majalah Guru.

 Nur Lailatul Akma binti Zainal Abidin


Kamariah Kamarudin

Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication

Universiti Putra Malaysia

The Concept of Tazkiyah Al-Nafs in the Female Character in the Novel The Missin G Piece

Abstract This study aims to analyse the elements of tazkiyah al-nafs (purification of the soul) in the novel The Missing Piece: Part One and Part Two. In general, character studies discuss three important aspects, one of which is the spiritual. In this study, the researcher will lay emphasis on the message of spirituality depicted by the author through the female character in the novel. This spiritual message can be traced in the elements of spiritual purification (tazkiyah al-nafs). In the novel The Missing Piece, elements of tazkiyah al-nafs will be classified in terms of two relationships; the relationship of humans with Allah (habl min Allah) and the relationship of human beings with one another (habl min al-nas). Based on this concept of tazkiyah al-nafs, the female character in the novel The Missing Piece in both parts one and two, can be seen to convey a number of spiritual messages that make up aspects of female personality in Islam. This includes aspects of aqidah (creed) and ibadah (worship) in line with spiritual concepts and suggestions for the process of the purification of the soul (tazkiyah al-nafs). The potential of women authors in the field of Islamic spirituality needs to be given attention, apart from emphasizing moral issues and the quality of female characters. This can also be seen as an effort to elevate women’s writing to be on par with the men’s; it can, in fact, make women’s writing a guide for the formation of an exceptional ummah (Islamic community).

Keywords: Tazkiyah al-nafs, female characters, women’s writing, relationship of humans with Allah, relationship of humans with one another

 Ahmad Murad Merican


Department of Management and Humanities

Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS Malaysia

Occidentalism in the Malay World: The West Through the Eyes of Abdullah Munshi

Abstract This article is about how the West was imagined, described and reproduced by Abdullah Munshi. Thus far we have encountered descriptions of the non-Western world by the West, which includes that of the Malays by European travellers, scientists and colonial scholar-administrators. It is thus also critical to appraise knowledge of the Occident from the Other and an ambivalent self such as in the person Abdullah Munshi. Abdullah’s writings were journalistic and sociological in nature. The production of his writings under conditions of early colonialism has not been sufficiently studied from the perspective of Self and the Other, Western and non-Western. As such, this article is significantly the first of such studies on Malay intellectual history. Abdullah’s autobiography, the Hikayat Abdullah, is used to identify a form of Malay Occidentalism. In a sense, this article plays a cataloguing role indicating the scope and character of the Malay imagination of the West. It presents part of the larger study aimed at developing a framework on Malay attitudes and representations of Europe and Western civilization.

Keywords: Colonialism, occidentalism, orientalism, other, printing, self



Malay Literature: Volume 23 Number 2 December 2010

May 9, 2011



Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

History into Fiction: Re-Visioning the Past in Isa Kamari’s Novel, Atas Nama Cinta

Abstract This paper analysis the transformation process involved in the act of converting history into fiction. Macherey’s theory of literary production, which describes the relation between texts, ideology and history, has likened literary writing to a process in a production line where raw materials undergo a transformation process to become a new product. This theory is adapted and utilised as a framework for the analysis of Isa Kamari’s novel, Atas Nama Cinta (2006 – literally “In the Name of Love”, translated into English under the title “Nadra”). Discussion will focus on the strategies used by her to change raw materials into fiction through the application of re-visioning strategies, namely the transformation of historical data into context, the operation of ideology and the utilisation of elements of fiction. The context is a re-visioning of events surrounding the 1950s racial riots in Singapore triggered by the Singapore High Court verdict concerning Maria (Bertha) Hertogh. As a result of the transformation, history not only serves as backdrop for the narrative but, more importantly, offers the writer a re-visioning stance from a local perspective. The re-visioning of history allows the deconstruction of dominant Western perceptions of local history and literature. The deconstructive nature of re-visioning history reveals the politics of power and discourse in society; it exposes the constructs of identity and nation; and re-visioning also re-creates alternative constructs of identity and nation within the context of postcolonialism. The writer’s own position reflects the subjectivity through which history is viewed and authorises the reconstruction and representation of the relevant identities in the narrative.

Keywords history, fiction, re-visioning, Isa Kamari, subjectivity.

Faculty of Modern Language and Communication,
Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Islamic Legal Principal in the Short Anthology “Ujana Rindu”

Abstract The development of Malay Literature in the country has not been confined to producing writers from the fields of education, journalism and the like. There is a tendency for writers from the legal field to produce literary works. The involvement of these is not limited to writing works based on current law but also includes Islamic elements. This can be seen through the emergence of young writers from the legal field such as Siti Hajar Mohd Zaki, Mohd. Asmadi Saiman and others. Therefore, this article seeks to analyse the Islamic legal principles in the short story collection titled Ujana Rindu, written by two graduated from the International Islamic University Malaysia, Siti Hajar Mohd Zaki and Mohd. Asmadi Saiman (Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, 2006). The study clearly shows that both writers’ knowledge of the law is utilized to create literary works in line with the legal principles found in the Qur’an and hadith. Ujana Rindu shows the importance of Islamic law in human society, especially where relationships among people (habl min al-Nas) and the relationship between humans and the Creator (habl min Allah) are concerned. This, in the end, will bring about the values of al-Khayr (goodness), al-Haqq (truth) dan al-Jamal (beauty) in the readers’ analysis of a literary work.

Keywords Islamic Legal Principles, Ujana Rindu, habl min al-Nas, habl min Allah, al-Khayr, al-Haqq and al-Jamal.

Monash University, Australia.

Shahnon Ahmad: Malay Author*  

Abstract Shahnon Ahmad’s recent autobiographical volume, Weltanschauung: Suatu Perjalanan Kreatif (2008), covers many topics in its 748 pages. Interestingly, the word “Malay” is not to be found in its index. Yet Shahnon is often constructed by critics, especially non-Malaysian critics, as the quintessentially “Malay author”. The paper will study “insider” (emic) and “outsider” (etic) views of how Shahnon is perceived as “Malay” by various critics and how his “Malayness” is encoded in other, different ways in his own work.

Keywords emic, etic, Malay author, Shahnon Ahmad, Malayness.

Faculty of Art and Science Social,
Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

Syair Peri Tuan Raffles Pergi ke Minangkabau: A Prelimanary Reading of an Early 19th Century Travelogue

Abstract The essay is an attempt to read a 19th century travel narrative, rendered in the popular syair form and written by a native Malay from Bangkahulu. The narrative by virtue of its genre, described and mapped the arduous journey made by Raffles and his wife Lady Sophia from Padang to the Minangkabau hinterlands, as heard and imagined by a writer who was not only new to the genre, but also not part of the expedition. The reading of the narratives viz the depiction of the journey, its details and reliability therefore has to be contextualised within these authorial constraints.

Keywords factual narratives, transitional genres, travelogue, selfnarrative, biography, auto-biography, oriental enlightenment.

School of Humanities,
Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Re-Visiting the Slogan “Asia for Asians” and the “Look East” Policy: A Study of Malay Short Stories*

Abstract Japan has a great influence on the the South-East Asian countries from the Second World War to this day. The aim of this essay is to study and compare the short stories in modern Malay literature which discuss about the Japanese. This study is based on the thematic approach in the field of comparative literature. Thematic approach compares the short stories based on a subject-matter and in this study the subjectmatter is the images of the Japanese in two different contexts, Japan under the slogan “Asia for Asians” and under the policy called “Look East Policy.” The study discovers that during the Japanese occupation in Malaya in the Second World War, short stories produced tells about the Japanese cruelty toward the people. Nevertheless there are also short stories which explicate the Japanese as the hero for saving Asians from Western colonialism. Then when the “Look East” Policy was implemented in the 1980s, in which the Japanese became a model of the Malaysian economic development, there are short stories discuss about the Japanese as an economic model to follow especially in seeking higher education in the field of science and technology. However, the image of the ruthless Japanese army during the war is still haunting some of the authors as explicated in the short stories studied.

Keywords Malay short stories, “Asia for Asians” slogan, “Look East” policy, Malay nasionalism, comparative literature, history of Malaysia.


Faculty of Modern Language and Media Communication,
Universiti Putra Malaysia.

The Signification of Flora in the Poems of Zurinah Hassan, According to the Malay Theory of Methodology   

Abstract Flora is God’s unique creation. According to the Qur’an, its life processes and beauty maintain the right balance and prove the power of Allah SWT. However, for a poet, observing and studying nature becomes more interesting when viewed through analogy or metaphor and through interpretation and meaning. In this study, the signification of flora in five collections of poems by Zurinah Hasan, Sesayup Jalan (1974), Di Sini Tiada Perhentian (1977), Keberangkatan (1985), Pujangga Tidak Bernama (1994), and Kumpulan Puisi Salasilah (2005), will be examined. Signification and thought are found in all aspects of life. Flora can be classified as jungle or rice plants, and as trees and branches, flowers and fruits. These explain phenomena that represent human life such as poverty, character, behaviour, love, femininity, national identity, politics, leadership, and the strength and resilience of the will to live, centred around life in the past and present, as well as historical remains. The analysis in this paper is done using the Malay Theory of Methodology, which places importance on goodness and usefulness, justice in society, beauty in art, symbols (signs) and their meaning, and, most importantly, increasing one’s love for and belief in Allah.

Keywords Flora, Malay Methodology, Premonition, Functional, Animism, Connotation, Figurative, Analogy, Introspection, Ideology.


Academy of Malay Studies,
Universiti Malaya.

From Awan Putih to Suasana Senja: A Textdealism Approach Towards Masuri S.N.’s Poetry   

Abstract Masuri S.N. was one of the most important figures in the development of modern Malay poetry. However, his importance is rarely discussed in a scholarly environment. This research discusses Masuri S.N.’s entire body of poetic work produced throughout his life, in doing so it uses the Textdealism Theory established by Mana Sikana. The researchers describe the excellence of Masuri S.N’s poems, which simultaneously solidifies his authority as the father of modern Malay poetry. Research has found that during his life as a poet, he consistently altered his poetic style to  improve the quality of his work. In line with the Textdealism Theory, those alterations followed the guidelines and principles of presence, strengthening, collision and individualism. This study, among other things, provides a rationale for Masuri S.N to be considered one of the best poets in the field of Malay literature.

Keywords Masuri S.N., ASAS 50, Textdealism, poetry, presence, collision, strengthening, Individualism, excellence.

Malay Literature: Volume 23 Number 1 June 2010

July 1, 2010


Institute  of the Malay World and Civilisation,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

The Novel Putera Gunung Tahan by Ishak Haji Muhammad: A Post-Colonial Reading

Abstract This article seeks to highlight a counter discourse to the dominant colonial discourse that posits European colonizers as superior to the colonised. Applying a post-colonial European colonizers as superior to the colonised. Applying a post-colonial framework to Ishak Haji Muhammad’s novel Putera Gunung Tahan, the analysis shows how Ishak manipulates his story to debunk firstly the colonial discourse of “going native” that renders as deranged colonisers who befriend “natives” or become intimate with them. The novel instead makes clear that Robert’s insanity is caused by the simple and straightforward application of a magic potion. Secondly, the article highlights Ishak’s contestation of the colonial discourse that represents “natives” as weak, wild, sexually rapacious and abnormal. Ishak portrays his protagonist, the colonised Ratu Bongsu, as clever, strong, normal and civilied, who successfully outsmarts William, rescues Mrs. William and marries her.

 Keywords post-colonial, colonialism, civilised, independence, civilizing mission, colonialist discourse.

Literature Section, School of Humanities,
Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Constructing a Theory on Women’s Soul and Mind: An Early Concept of Independent Self-Theory

Abstract This prologue is fair and has a humanist feature. The write-up is not as loud as the shouts once made by Virgina Woolf, Mary Daly, Elaine Showalter, Michelle Barret, or Kate Millet for that matter. In fact, it is unlike the call from amongst Western feminist liberals, who are fanatic and immersed in the struggle to secure the position of women. It is just a small voice that refers to the discussion as to how a woman’s soul should be fathomed, understood and appreciated, especially the procedures on women’s appearance and the life that is described in creative works. This essay is an attempt to adapt and restructure the reading method once put forward by Showalter, i.e. gynocriticism, or better known as “women as writers based on woman-centred criticism”. In Malay, the term used is often gino or ginokritikan. Generally, Showalter’s approach is to deliberate four aspects, which are women’s biology, psychology, language and culture. Each and every aspects is studied closely to illustrate the expression of feeling and women’s desire, experience, identity, gender, sexuality, patriarchy and women’s inner world. Therefore, to have a deeper understanding of Malay women specifically, the best way to understand this situation is to come up with a specific approach which I name the Theory of Women’s Soul and Mind. The foundation of the formation of this theory is the understanding of the meaning of soul and mind which is absent in Western feminist study. The formation of this theory is also based on experience, emotion, background and the local surroundings embracing religion, practice and the Malay culture.

Keywords Wommen’s inner soul, independent self-theory, concept, woman-centred criticism, androcentric model, male critical theory, penis envy, womb envy, gynocriticism, emotion.

Literature Section, School of Humanities,
Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Literature as a Mirror of its Age: A Perception of Dutch-Aceh War Based on Syair Peperangan Aceh

Abstract The Dutch-Aceh War of 1873-1904 was a continuation of the war which had begun as early as 16th century. Aside from having been recorded in numerous historical documents, the war was also creatively captured by a narrative writer who described the war through local eyes. The determination of the Acehnese to defend their country led to the creation of various stories of their fighting spirit which referred to their patriotism, their strict adherence to customs and their spiritual and religious way of life. In the context of the role of literature as a mirror of its age, the war narrative does not merely present historical facts but also provides an accurate portrayal of the reactions and response of the Acehnese to the Dutch invasion. As such, it has become an important part of the corpus of social documents relating to Aceh. This article focuses on another war narrative of the Dutch-Aceh war entitled Syair Peperangan Acheh, written in the early 19th century. Like other war narratives, this literary work describes the ambiance of war, rich in the personal values of the Aceh community when confronted by foreign powers in that era-personal values re-evaluated by other communities in the Malay World.

Keywords mirror of its age, Dutch-Aceh War, narrative writer, local eyes, patriotism, social document, Malay world. 


School of Humanities,
Universiti Sains Malaysia.

Law and Peace Treaty Manipulations By Dutch Colonisers on Native Indonesians: A Study on Mochtar Lubis’s Selected Works

Abstract The Dutch colonisation of Indonesia from 1814 until independence on 27th December 1949 has been described by historians and writers alike as a long, dark period of bitter strife and suffering for the Indonesian people. Mochtar Lubis, a famous Indonesian journalist and novelist reenacts the suffering of his people at the hands of the colonisers in his creative works, focusing especially on the latter’s deceitful manipulation of the law to negate peace treaties signed between the Dutch authorities and local indigenous leaders. Such duplicity was undertaken chiefly to benefit the usurpers whilst oppressing the Indonesian people. Among the treaties signed which the Dutch used to hoodwink the locals were the Renville Agreement and the Linggardjati Agreement. Mochtar Lubis immortalises their treachery in his works such as Jalan Tak Ada Ujung (Road With No End), Tidak Ada Esok (No Tomorrow), Maut dan Cinta (Love and Death) and Kuli Kontrak (Contract Coolies). This article will read Mochtar Lubis’ literary works as a form of post-colonial discourse that foregrounds the tension between coloniser and the colonised even as it dismantles Dutch hegemony represented by the bias of enacted laws and one-sided treaties.

Keywords post-colonial, coloniser, natives, bias law, manipulate, deceitful.

Faculty of Modern Language and Communication,
Universiti Putra Malaysia.

Imaginative Reality in Poetry: A Textual Study of Poems in the Anthology Soulship (Menyarung Jiwa) By Raja Ahmad Aminullah

Abstract This study examines the possibilities that can be viewed as textual reality. The works analysed are poems from the anthology Soulship (Menyarung Jiwa) written by Raja Ahmad Aminullah, an artist who is well known in the country for his works of art, including in the poetic genre. Reality in poetry is found in the form of imagination expressed in poetic works. This poetic imagination is made possible through semiotic interpretation tools. In other words, the approach used in this study is the semiotic-poetic approach. Semiotics is a signification theory or, rather, a theory of production of meaning. By using this theory, the meaning of the poetry will be looked at according to its expression in utterances. In other words, the focus of the study will revolve around what makes the utterance meaningful, how it expresses something and what precedes it at a more fundamental level so that the manifestation of meaning is achieved. By using semiotic theory, the basis which is used as the premise is the belief that meaning is not apparent in the object, but shaped by what is interpreted by a competent observer, that is a subject who is able to give “shape” to the object. Since language is a tool of society, every word used in a poem by itself functions as a cultural unit that is capable of conveying a speaker’s knowledge of his “mother tongue” or of the world that shapes the way of thinking of the native speaker. In order to get an understanding of this “world”, the words used as signs in the poems will be analysed in terms of their truth which is made possible by a smart and knowledgeable interpreter. A semiotic analysis of literary material normally utilises a hypothetical presentation in the form of a model. Through this model, a mode of interpretation of society’s social experiences based on the encyclopaedic knowledge of the reader or interpreter, the reality of life in a society can be traced and understood. The possibility of this understanding will be examined using semiotic terminology-such as sign and signifying, semantic code, intertextuality, contextuality and others-as tools that can be made use of in the study. Through the value of imagination that is glimpsed via the structure of the utterance, what is interpreted as “thought” and the “philosophy of thinking” is the product of reasoning that emerges from the poems contained in the anthology Soulship.

Keywords denotation, phenomenology, ideology, iconic, intertextuality, irony, code, connotation, context, langue and parole, realism, reality.


Centre of Gender Research,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Companionship and Rivalry: Mother-Daughter Relationships in Selected Malay Novels Written by Women

Abstract This paper attempts to analyse the tension of companionship and rivalry in mother-daughter relationships in selected Malay novels written by women. The concept of symbiosis, introduced by Nancy Friday (1977), in analysing Western society, and the findings of several anthropologists on aspects of Malay kinship are applied to these works. In doing so, the writers seek to establish how women writers perceive mother-daughter relationships in a Malay society. Finally, the paper analyses whether or not the depictions emulate the ideal mother-daughter relationship as dictated by the norms of the Malay society.

Keywords Mother-daughter relationship, symbiosis, Malay kinship, Malay women writers, Malay norms.

School of Language Studies and Linguistics,
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Reality  Over Imagination in Muhammad Haji Salleh’s Rowing Down Two Rivers

Abstract One important function of imagination is to understand reality. Imagination and reality are inherently related and poetry is one zone where imagination and reality meet. Complementary changes in the nature of reality, as well as cultural and ideological configurations, especially in post-colonial writings which aim to reconstruct a sense of nationalism and nationhood call for a re-evaluation of the concept of creative imaginations. Having said that, this paper aims to raise the issue of the difference between the two ideologies of poetry with reference to the imagination and reality, and argues that the difference is related to the concept and state of imagination in the poem. This paper focuses on Muhammad Haji Salleh’s Rowing Down Two Rivers (2000) to investigate the dominance of reality over imagination. The relevant concepts that relate reality to imagination in the domain of  artistic creation will be used as the conceptual framework of this study. The analytical procedure will consist of examining the types of images and their associations in the selected poems in order to explore Muhammad’s mode of conveyance in the selected poems in order to explore Muhammad’s mode of conveyance of the elements of reality. The analysis demonstrates that Muhammad’s overreliance on sensory images results in the dominance of reality over imagination in his poetry. The significant motifs in his poems in Rowing Down Two Rivers such as road, journey, the traveller, home, quest, and identity are embodied in words or descriptions denoting sensory experience which leads to familiar associations with Malaysian reality. Imagination in poetry is considered to be a human faculty concerned with creating autonomous aesthetic artefacts which can represent directly or indirectly to the human experience. This study identifies that for Muhammad, this notion now been turned into an agency that is used solely for nurturing and insulting the intellectualism and idealism of social Malaysian identity and life.

Keywords reality, creative imagination, idea images, Muhammad Haji Salleh, Malaysian poetry, nationhood, identity, imagination in poetry, post-colonial poetry.

Malay Literature: Volume 22 Number 2 December 2009

January 4, 2010



Narratives About the Past: Recollecting Memory on Malay Ethnocentrism and Ethnicism In The Post-Melakan Period

Abstract This essay is concerned with the phenomena of ethnocentrism and ethnicism in the Malay community, specifically during the pre-modern, post-Melakan period, roughly between 17th-18th century. It is proposed to look at these phenomena through an investigation of sources available from written literatures and from situations in the Malay world at the time of writing. Two most significant texts composed within the period, Sejarah Melayu and Hikayat Hang Tuah will be taken as useful documents to study the ethnocentric world view of the Malays, while a study of the sociopolitical context will help enlighten and complement the textual sources.

Salina: The Story of a “Noble” Prostitute

Abstract The argument in this article stems from A. Samad Said’s statement that his first novel, Salina, revolves around every character in the novel, as opposed to being focused on the character Siti Salina alone. His statement is contentious, because it visibly contradicts the conclusions made in numerous articles and studies on Salina. Generally, these articles and studies find Salina‘s plot to centre on the protagonist Siti Salina, a ‘noble prostitute’ who lives in Singapore during World War Two. Because of this focus, the presence of Siti Salina is the cause of a lingering controversy. To frame this dispute, this article analyses the narrative devices in Salina, to identify the focus of the story, so as to confirm Samad’s statement above. These include the characters and their characteristics, the geographical and chronological backdrop, plot (especially with regard to cause and effect), as well as the scenes and their description, including the manipulation of language. The analysis identifies two narrative strategies manipulated together in Salina, that simultaneously highlight her nobility and downplay her transgressions; both of which focus the story on the noble prostitute. This finding in itself negates the validity of A Samad Said’s statement above, and conversely reaffirms the findings previous articles and studies.

Cyber Literature: A Comparative Paper on Malaysian-Indonesian Satirical Poems (SAJEN)

Abstract The massive outburst of information technology in the current globalised era enables anyone to write and publish his or her writings to be read by anyone from all reaches of the globe. Among all works produced are literary works that cover different genres; poems, short stories, serialised novels, essays and literary criticisms, plus others that were grouped together under the ‘Cyber Literature’ category. In poetry, they are an increasing emergence of poets who write humour poems or ‘Sajen’. Most of them produce satirical Sajen poems as a joke, to tease and make fun of people, to criticize and to trigger their sensitivity and creativity. Some of the Sajen poems were made to ‘sting’ in its satirical sense, but some were made just for the sake of producing humour-related works. This essay is made in order to study several Sajen poems by poets from Malaysia and Indonesia who practiced the satirical approach as the analysis structure. A comparative study on Sajen under Cyber Literature from both countries is made not just to see the level of quality of the works done from both nations, but also to raise-up questions, themes and the reasons behind their works.

Myth and Religion in the Fu Numeral (Bilangan Fu) and the Prau with the Silent Soul (Bedar Sukma Bisu)

Abstract The study compares two novels which are The Numeral Fu (Bilangan Fu) by Ayu Utami and The Prau with the Silent Soul (Bedar Sukma Bisu) by Faisal Tehrani using the Theory of Existence of Myth as a hidden narrative which expound the world view, value, code of ethics and moral that existed in society. The hidden narrative is seen in a theoritical context thus portraying the existence of myths which were often connected with efforts in questioning the existence, nature and energy elements surrounding them. Furthermore, it brings along the principle of belief, which eventually became life’s thrust. Samawi religions (monotheism) were not borne out of myths, but from the revelations of The Only God. But, myth often existed as a destructive element or on the other hand contributed constructively in understanding the profound truth. This study is done to witness how the hidden narratives were eventually constructed to bring about the thoughts and ideology of these two authors in upholding their respective discourse.



A Tale From Maghreb-El-Aksa

Father’s Palace of Love

The Gun

Cendana’s Inheritence



Combing the Curtain of Poetry

The Tale of Colours
The Tale of Water III
What ‘Forgot’ Said to ‘Remember’

Father’s Message
The Note of a Slave at the Edge of a Range



Not Deja Vu

Malay Literature: Volume 22 Number 1 June 2009

November 18, 2009



A Social Cognitive Analysis of Lat’s Cartoons: Element of Cross Cultural Thinking and Understanding

Abstract This paper is a research based on socio-cognitive approach in cartoons. Cartoons plays an important part in modern society as a medium of conveying ideas in its satirical and humour sketches. Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid or best known as Lat is a prominent figure among the cartoonist in Malaysia. His cartoon portrays the true life of Malaysia and the hearts of the Malays. Learning is one of the important processes in our life and cartoons is of the best teacher. We laugh when we read or watch the animated cartoons but little that we realized we are in fact laughing and learning at the same time. Based on this approach, the writer will describe the thinking and the understanding of the Malaysian culture which involves the society, the environment, the individual, and the cognitive processes which can be seen in Lat’s cartoon.

Thoughts, Diction and Forms of Humour in Malay Pantun

Abstract Malay and pantun are inseparable. The Malay spirit appears to be bound to the form and expression of pantun. Long before, pantun is an effective form of expression, especially in addressing any issues subtly. Malay pantun posses the elements of humour; thoroughly compose for entertainment and insinuation. The hint of humour reflects the uniqueness and creative thinking of Malays. Words selected or diction used clearly shows just how ingenious Malays are in selecting words for humour. Words are properly chosen in line with the couplets and quartrain. Thought and diction are associated in making a splendid and interesting pantun. The humour included in pantun are carefully arranged and in accordance with rhyme and rhythm for the listeners delight. Advice and guidance are incorporated in a comical way. The elements of humour in pantun which exhibit the thought, diction and forms are interesting to discuss. Hence, this paper will be discussing the aspects of thought, diction and forms of humour in Malay pantun.




The Tale of a Little Bit, a Little Bit More

A Teacher for Tomok



Restlessness of a Ring

The Sloth
The Lewd Leader
Deaf Leader
Cowardly Leader



The Magic Mirror

A Welcome Note

August 27, 2009

Welcome to the journal blog of Malay Literature. Malay Literature is an annual publication produced by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka every June. Feel free to browse through the pages. You may order Malay Literature via online through this website:

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