Review Buku: Tetralogi Pulau Buru – Pramoedya Ananta Toer

I have finally finished one of the most acclaimed literature works by Indonesian respected writer, The Buru Quartet (Tetralogi Buru) by Pramoedya Ananta Toer.The Buru Quartet consisted of 4 compelling book: This Earth of a Mankind (Bumi Manusia),Child of All Nations (Anak Semua Bangsa), Footsteps (Jejak Langkah), and the last book is House of Glass (Rumah Kaca).

 

The Buru Quartet is considered to be the Indonesian version of Leo Tolstoy’s legendary oeuvre: War and Peace.Both literature are a historical chronicle, taking a real-even setting and mixed it with a gripping fiction.The Buru Quartet took place in Java the late 19th during the colonial time and before the awakening of Indonesian intellectuals against the colonial government of Dutch East Indies (Hindia Belanda).The leading character is a noble Native Javanese or those who bear the name ‘Raden Mas’ , his name is Minke.

The reason why I was very much captivated by this book is because there are so many things that I can correlate from this book which took set almost 100 years ago.It strucks me that our founding father’s words is very true: JAS MERAH: “Jangan Sekali-sekali Melupakan Sejarah” , for we can learn so much from the past and if we realized, the history is repeating itself.

To some extend, I can correlate myself with Minke.Minke comes from golongan Priyayi Jawa.According to Clifford Geertz, the Priyayi stream are the traditional bureaucreatic elite and were strongly driven by hierarchical Hindu-Javanese tradition. (It was shown in the book when Minke visited his father whose hold a high-ranking position in Dutch East Indies’s government as a regent.Minke has to curtsied to his father and talk in Javanese kromo inggil much to his dismay).

Minke itself, is being educated in western education.At the beginning of the novel, he was a student of HBS or a pre-university school before college.Minke was taught by native Dutch teachers and grew fond of one particular teacher, his literature teacher, Ms.Magda Peters.Minke and Magda Peters shares the same admiration towards the true European enlighten where everyone is liberated and hierarchy cease to exist.Minke is also a prominent writer, being an educated people, he wrote a lot, particularly issues regarding the Dutch colonialism and was quite a popular writer under the disguise name of Max Tollenaar.Throughout the first 2 books, I was taken along Minke’s coming to age journey where he developed not only intellectualy but also socially.He began to realized that his native nation was oppressed and being treaten unjustly except for those who born in royal family, like him.I was also being taken to experience Minke’s inner struggle toward his identity. Minke is an educated person because he was born in royal family thus making him able to pursue a decent education.Therefore he was able to experience and learn more than the other native Indonesian, but he was far too westernized according to his family and his fellow friends.Although he wrote a lot but he wrote in Dutch, not in Melayu, his native language.He wanted for everyone, including his native Indonesian to be equal and to wiped out injustice and the rotten hieararchy system but still feel offended when a peasant talked to him in Javenese ngoko.He was also feel very bothered when he has to curtsied when he visited his father, he felt disrespected and that all his education means nothing because he had to bowed down just because his father is a regent.

In Child of all Nations, Minke was taken aback by a journalist named Kommer who told Minke he doesn’t know a thing about his nation and also by  his best friend whose also his mentor, a French native named Jean Marais who told him he won’t be able to save his nation if he keeps on writing on a language that they don’t understand.This further furies Minke and he eventually learn to write in Melayu instead of Dutch.

 

“Kau pribumi terpelajar! Kalau mereka itu, pribumi itu, tidak terpelajar, kau harus bikin mereka jadi terpelajar.Kau harus, harus, harus bicara pada mereka, dengan bahasa yang mereka tahu.” – Jean Marais.

“Tanpa mempelajari bahasa sendiri pun orang takkan mengenal bangsanya sendiri” – Kommer.

 

In the 3rd book is Minke’s awakening.The set was in Batavia during Minke’s college years in STOVIA.He initiated an intellectual movement to educate and awaken the native Indonesian about their oppressed condition.The 1st organization failed due to unsatisfactory quality of its member.Minke then moved on to establish a Melayu newspaper called Medan (a reference of Medan Prijaji).In this 3rd book, I come to realization on how much words and media can affected a revolution and be a subtle power to motivate proletariat’s movement.

 In brief, Reading this Quartet puts me in contemplation: Apa benar Indonesia sudah merdeka secara utuh dari penjajahan dan menjadi bangsa yang mandiri? Karena yang saya rasakan sekarang adalah berulangnya sejarah.

Saya adalah Minke, produk pendidikan yang terinfiltrasi budaya Barat yang merasa lebih nyaman menulis dengan bahasa Inggris daripada bahasa Indonesia, bahasa bangsa saya sendiri.
Saya adalah Minke, yang terlahir beruntung dan dapat mengecam pendidikan tinggi hingga ke universitas dan tersadarkan bahwa bangsa kita ini, Indonesia, masih terjajah.Kalau memang kita sudah tidak terjajah, yang bisa kuliah di UI, UGM, dan ITB  tentunya bukan hanya orang-orang seperti saya dan teman-teman saya yang memang terlahir dan dibesarkan dengan kenyamanan.
Saya adalah Minke, too westernized to the point I despise kebudayaan Indonesia yang harus menghormati orang yang kekuasaannya lebih tinggi atau harus menyembah guru seperti mereka Tuhan.Bagi saya dan pemikiran saya, manusia adalah sama, tidak seharusnya kita menyembah hanya karena seseorang adalah pejabat, guru, ataupun seorang pemuka Agama.
Saya adalah Minke, seorang terdidik yang memiliki tanggung jawab terhadap lingkungannya.Yang seharusnya mengangkat bangsanya dari keterpurukan, dari koruptor koruptor yang menggegoroti kekayaan negara dan meninggalkan ratusan juta orang tertidur di bawah kolong jembatan.
Saya adalah Minke, saya manusia yang beruntung, dan saya harus mengangkat bangsa saya dari penjajahan dan membangunkan mereka dari euphoria kemerdekaan yang palsu.Saya adalah Minke, manusia modern yang bertengkar dengan pikiran sendiri dan bergelut dalam kesepian dan di isolasi karena ilmu pengetahuan.

“Seorang terpelajar harus juga belajar berlaku adil, sudah sejak dalam pikiran, apalagi perbuatan” – Jean Marais.

“…dan modern juga adalah kesunyian manusia yatim-piatu yang dikutuk untuk membebaskan diri dari segala ikatan yang tidak diperlukan; adat, darah, bahkan juga bumi, kalau perlu juga sesamanya” – Minke.

Saya, kamu, dan kami semua yang telah diberikan keberuntungan takdir oleh Tuhan sebagai kaum yang terdidik adalah Minke.Dan kami semua punya tanggung jawab secara moral terhadap bangsa kita yang terlalu lama terlena dalam kemerdekaan palsu dan mengulangi sejarah kolonialisasi dimana manusia manusia terdidik pun adalah budak dari kekuasaan yang memegang kapital.

We are the 20th Century Minke.

And though, it’s still a long way to go.For I’m still learning how to completely love my nation more than I love America and how to comfortably write in my own language.With this 3rd post in my new blog I highly recommend you to read the Buru Quartet because although it’s a fictional work, it is based on real-event and gives us a compelling story about our history before we declared ourself as a free nation of Indonesia.It’s a beautiful way love our nation by  learning about our history through a wonderfully written roman.

Javanese Kromo Inggil: Bahasa Jawa halus, digunakan oleh ke Keraton an dan ketika berbicara dengan orang lebih tua.
Javanese Ngoko: Bahasa Jawa kasar yang biasa digunakan sehari hari dan banyak digunakan oleh kalangan menengah kebawah.
HBS: Hogere Burger School adalah tahap pendidikan setelah SMA dan sebelum memasuki jenjang kuliah di masa kolonial Hindia Belanda.

 I rated Tetralogi Buru 5 out of 5.

 

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One thought on “Review Buku: Tetralogi Pulau Buru – Pramoedya Ananta Toer

  1. Nice post!!ga nyangka masih ada anak muda yg punya pemikiran kayak gini.kalo liat sekitar udah ga ngerti lagi apa yg orang2 kejar.idealisme kayaknya cuma bertahan sampe masa kuliah setelahnya bubar jalan, bodo amat kalo masyarakat semakin buta sama ‘kemerdekaan semu’.

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