ABDULLAH MUNSHI AS THE CAPTURED CHARACTER IN HIS OWN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Rahimah Hamdan, Arba'ie Sujud, Nik Nur Hasmiru Husna Bahari

Abstract


This paper was aimed at identifying the captive attitude of Abdullah Munshi in his work and to analyse how the West came to recognise him as ‘The Father of Modern Malay Literature’. Abdullah Munshi’s courage in challenging the existing literary conventions and in introducing a Western style of writing to Malay audiences earned him this title. This recognition made him the most credible Malay literary figure from the perspective of the Western colonialists, especially with his first autobiographical work titled Hikayat Abdullah. His reputation continued to rise until several scholars began to dispute his credibility by arguing that he did not deserve to be recognised as such. Abdullah Munshi was labelled as an individual who was captivated by everything concerning his Western benefactors, as illustrated in his magnum opus.  With this phenomenon in mind, this study applied the text analysis method to the first Malay autobiography, the Hikayat Abdullah, based on Syed Hussein Alatas’ concept of a captive character. The findings of the study revealed that Abdullah Munshi conformed to five criteria in this concept of a captive character, namely, a person who copies the activities of Westerners and regards them as beneficial; a person who is unable to raise new questions in life; a person who regards Western knowledge to be the best; a person who accepts the suggestions of Westerners without objection; and a person who thinks so highly of the West that he fails to realize that he himself has become a captive. This means that Abdullah Munshi was a person who was a captive of the West, as he himself revealed through his autobiography. To summarize, it can be proven that the recognition accorded to Abdullah Munshi as ‘The Father of Modern Malay Literature’, which led to the separation of Malay literature into two periods, was the best agenda by the West to ensure the relevance of their presence in the colonies, particularly in the Malay World.

Keywords


Autobiography; captive character; Hikayat Abdullah; Syed Hussein Alatas; Malay

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.24815/.v1i1.14441

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