Toer, Pramoedya Ananta

Pramoedya Ananta Toer

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, 1925–2006, modern Indonesia's preeminent writer of fiction, b. Blora, Java. The son of a nationalist headmaster, he was a longtime journalist, involved left-wing politics from the 1940s until his death. Pramoedya, who wrote in Bahasa Indonesia, composed his first novel, The Fugitive (1950, tr. 1975), while serving a sentence (1947–49) in a Dutch prison camp for anticolonial activities. Later he wrote a number of novels and stories set during the Japanese occupation and during and after Dutch rule. When Suharto seized power in 1965, Pramoedya was beaten, arrested, and imprisoned for 14 years. Held for a decade on Buru, a remote island penal colony, he was not permitted to write for many years. He told stories to his fellow prisoners, however, and when he was finally allowed a typewriter, these tales formed the basis of his epic fictional masterpiece, The Buru Quartet, a chronicle of a Javanese journalist coming of age in the latter years of Dutch colonialism. Following his release (1979), Pramoedya lived under house arrest for 13 years. Nonetheless, the Buru novels were published as This Earth of Mankind, Child of All Nations (both: 1980, tr. 1982), Footsteps (1985, tr. 1990), and House of Glass (1988, tr. 1992). Critically acclaimed, enormously popular, and translated into more than 20 languages, these and his more than 25 other works were subsequently banned in Indonesia. Among his other books are The Girl from the Coast (1982, tr. 2002), a novel, and The Mute's Soliloquy (1989–91, tr. 1999), a searing prison memoir. Many of his stories were translated in the collections A Heap of Ashes (1975), Tales from Djakarta (1999), and All That Is Gone (2004).


See A. Vlchek and R. Indira, Exile: Conversations with Pramoedya Ananta Toer (2006); study by B. Hering, ed. (1995).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Toer, Pramoedya Ananta


Born Feb. 6, 1925, in Blora, central Java. Indonesian writer. A leading representative of the “1945 Generation”; since the mid-1950’s, a member of the Society of People’s Culture (Lekra).

From 1947 to 1949, Toer was a victim of repression by the Dutch military administration. In prison he wrote the short-story collections Sparks of Revolution (published 1950), The Dawn (published 1950), and Crippled Souls (published 1951). He also wrote the novels Persecution (published 1950), Partisan Family (published 1950), and On the Bank of the Bekasi River (published 1947; Russian translation, 1965). These works, which contain elements of pacifism and protest against all forms of violence, express the theme of sacrifice for the victory of the Indonesian revolution.

Subsequently, Toer wrote collections of short stories that stressed social criticism, for example, This Is Not a Fair (1951), Stories of Blora (1952; translated into Russian as About What Passed, 1957), and Stories of Jakarta (1957); he also wrote the novel Corruption (1954). Toer is also the author of publicist monographs. He has translated works by foreign writers, including Soviet Russian writers, into Indonesian.

After the events of 1965, Toer was arrested and sent to a concentration camp on the island of Buru.


Midah, simanis bergigi emas. [Bukittinggi-Jakarta] 1962.
In Russian translation:
Eto bylo v luzhnom Bantene. Moscow, 1961.


Smurova, N. M. “Tvorcheskii put’ Pramud’i Ananty Tura.” In the collection Voprosy filologii stran Iugo-Vostochnoi Azii. [Moscow] 1965.
Teeuw, A. Modern Indonesian Literature. The Hague, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Toer, Pramoedya Ananta and Stanley Adi Prasetyo (1995), Memoar Oei Tjoe Tat: Pembantu Presiden Soekarno.