7: A bridge to the outside world Literary translation in Indonesia, 1950-1965 [chapter]

Maya H.T. Liem
Heirs to World Culture  
Literary translation has played an important role in the cultural development of new states. 1 In the case of Indonesia in the period between 1950 and 1965, matters related to culture figured prominently in the efforts of both government and civil society to construct a national identity for Indonesia as a modern, independent nation free from Dutch colonialism. Both internally and in the eyes of the world at large, cultural identity was seen as the mark of a strong and established state, and in
more » ... the building of culture, the development of a national literature was an area that attracted significant attention. Models of literary expression were often drawn from foreign sources, and this meant that a large number of Indonesian writers found themselves engaged in the business of literary translation. It is noteworthy that throughout this period, the Indonesian government itself took no active role in sponsoring literary translation, leaving this aspect of cultural traffic between Indonesia and the outside world entirely in the hands of writer/ translators as individuals. The Cold War context in which the literary translations of this period took place meant that translation was not only an opening to the outside world on the part of Indonesian writer/translators themselves. It was also a means by which foreign powers were able to spread the cultural principles and ideologies that underlay their attempts to gain political advantage and influence in the newly emerging states of the post-war era. As Hong Liu (2006:186-91) has shown in his study of the PRC's cultural diplomacy towards Indonesia between 1949 and 1965, the government of the PRC 1 I wish to thank Koesalah Soebagyo Toer for his generous assistance, his constant availability for interviews and his provision of additional information during the writing of this essay. I am also deeply grateful to Shannu (Tan To or Zhan Hu) and Winarta for their willingness to be interviewed for this project.
doi:10.1163/9789004253513_008 fatcat:7yj6e3e3h5c6hmutvz2ssjuiui