Thursday, October 14, 2010

Indonesian literature

Indonesian literature, is a term grouping various genres of South-East Asian literature. The term "Indonesian" has overlapping meanings reflecting the complex geographic and political history of the region. Indonesian Literature can refer to literature produced in the Indonesian archipelago. It is also used to refer more broadly to literature produced in areas with common language roots based on the Malay language (of which Indonesian is one scion). This would extend the reach to the Maritime Southeast Asia (including Indonesia, but also other nations with a common language such as Malaysia and Brunei, as well as population within other nations such as the Malay people living in Singapore.

There are also works written in and about Indonesia in unrelated languages. There are several languages and several distinct but related literary traditions within the geographical boundaries of the modern nation of Indonesia. For example the island of Java has its own Javanese pre-national cultural and literary history. There are also Sundanese, Balinese, and Batak or Madurese traditions. Indonesia also has a colonial history of Dutch, British and Japanese occupation, as well as a history of Islamic influence that brought its own texts, linguistic and literary influences. There is also an oral literature tradition in the area.

The phrase Indonesian literature is used in this article to refer to Indonesian as written in the nation of Indonesia.

Blurred distinctions

The languages spoken (and part of them written) in the Indonesian Archipelago number over a thousand, and for that reason alone it is impracticable to survey their entire literary production in one article. Since the thought of a national Indonesian language only struck root as recently as the 1920s, this means that emphasis in the present article is put on the twentieth century.

At the same time, such a choice leaves a number of distinctions open. Major factors which make for a blurring of distinctions are:

* the difficulty of distinguishing between Malay and Indonesian

Even in the 1930s, Malay was the lingua franca of the Archipelago, but was also used widely outside it, while a national Indonesian language was still in a state of development.[1] Thus, it is often difficult to ascertain where Malay leaves off and Indonesian begins. Nor is it possible to understand the development of Indonesian literature without study of the older Malay which it reacted against, and whose tradition it continued.

* mutual influence between regional languages and their literature's.

A work which appears in one Indonesian language may be found in a variant form in one or more others, especially when such literature has been part of the tradition for a long time.

* the problem of distinguishing between oral and written literature

Oral literature is, of course, assessed by other means than written manifestations, and field-work is one of these means. However, in the written literature, too, poetry may have been recorded which had originated as oral literature.

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