7 Reason Why “Bumi Manusia” by Pramoedya Ananta toer is a legend
When talking about Indonesian legendary books, you won’t stray far from Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Pram had proven to have true credibility in literature. His works, although banned and even disowned, are still great reads even until today, after dozens of years.
Let’s talk about the Buru tetralogy, written by Pram in prison when he was labeled as a communist. Even under imprisonment, Bumi Manusia was borned so impressively, so it’s no wonder that this book is chosen to be filmed.
Below, IDN Times has summarized 7 reasons why Bumi Manusia is legendary. As with other reviews, some of these contains heavy spoilers, so those who haven’t read it had better skip these, while those who have should feel free to comment.
Honorable fight by natives
Everything about Bumi Manusia is about fighting. From fighting for justice, for truth, for love up to for human rights. When Indonesia was still under Dutch colonialism, natives had no worth, as if not humans, and had no regards. They were persecuted even when right, even more so when wrong, that was the fate of natives in that era.
But Minke’s honorable fight had silenced and humiliated many famous parties. He broke down the paradigm that natives must always worship Dutch, must always accept being told what to do, and must always be silent when their rights are taken.
The pouring of sweats, thoughts and tears in this book has proven that there are price to be paid for every fight. There’s no easy life, and there’s no relaxed fight. Minke had successfully fought, and everyone should acknowledge the process.
A sacred love story
Not mushy, let alone cheesy. Perhaps those of you who love modern pickup lines would be very disappointed by this book because you won’t find much of those romance here. Because Bumi Manusia is a book about a fight, not a love story, so it’s only fitting that spices of Minke and Annelies is sparse.
But, you shouldn’t be too disappointed because everything is paid off by the presentation of a sacred love. Minke had his own ways in loving Annelies, definitely a mature love, unthinkable by boys his age.
Native mistress stereoyping and its justification
Back then, someone called a Nyai was certainly a mistress or a kept woman or illegitimate. That’s what’s projected on Nyai Ontosoroh’s life. Nyai lived under the society’s stereotyping all her life due to her Nyai title in her possession. This caused her not to have any rights to the daughter she had borned and raised herself.
But all the stereotyping was destroyed because Ontosoroh turned out to be well-educated, bold, strict and iron-willed. She is a nyai, but not a foolish one. She is well-versed in books, knowledge and law. As such, her role is one of the greatest in Bumi Manusia.
Clear and interesting introduction of every character
In this book, you will get to know many characters along with their backgrounds. Not just the main ones, but all. Their natures, their physiques, the way they think, their families, how they socialize, their temperaments, and all the things about every character were explained clearly and sufficiently. Pram didn’t share what’s not needed to be shared, and all are right on point.
Extensive diction, thrilling plot, an exciting read
Thick books doesn’t always have to be boring or tiring. At least for Pram’s. This book will make you smarter, more outspoken, and free, all in a positive sense.
You will learn lots of things from this book. For example, when Minke explained the truth about how the Dutch and natives lives. He didn’t just describe the social issue, but also the society and the prevailing law within. Minke knew exactly, the value of the natives back then.
The way he explained about child custody rights during Dutch colonialism will broaden your horizon. Plus all the things Minke found inside a Dutchman’s house, from the names, backgrounds, and purposes are also explained. How much smarter can you get?
Exposure to supporting characters with important roles
There are a lot of characters here. Not just Minke, Annelies and Nyai Ontosoroh, but there are also other equally important ones such as Magda Peters, Jean and May Marais, Darsam, Herman and Robert Mellema, and many others. What’s great is that, the characters weren’t just there to ‘pass by’ or created as fillers, but all were there to serve a purpose. All were interconnected, continuous, and impactful.
From the characterization, it’s clear that Pram didn’t play around in his work. He masterfully connected so many people with various different characteristics, cultures, ideologies, and backgrounds into a unit to create their own frictions. There’s no leftover character here.
Let’s take two examples, Magda Peters for one, an H.B.S teacher where Minke studied. She is the teacher most revered by Minke, virtuous, widely knowledgeable, and admirable. The story became more complex when it was indicated that Magda Peters wasn’t as good as people may think.
Then there’s Jean Marais. It’s through Jean Marais that one of the most memorable quotes from Pram came out;
“AN EDUCATED PERSON MUST LEARN TO ACT JUSTLY, BEGINNING, FIRST OF ALL, WITH HIS THOUGHTS – AND LATER IN HIS DEEDS.”
Not wasteful, not long-winded but not too short either
From over 300 pages, people might suspect of wasteful usage of sentences, stories that circle round and round and repetitive plots. But not in this book. And why not? Because all the stories were just right.
No exaggerations, no unnecessary characters, no wasted stories. The knowledge, the fight, Dutch colonialism, and the lives of natives youth was depicted clearly. Pram wrapped them all under a beautiful narration and, once more… sacred.
Those are why Bumi Manusia still lives on until now. A priceless literary work can’t be denied, even after getting banned, disowned and sending its author to prison, it would still make its way to millions of reader worldwide.
Bumi Manusia has been translated into 43 languages, which means it has been read in many paets of the world. So what’s your own opinion about Bumi Manusia?