This is an important survey of a neglected chapter in literary history. The critical focus of post-colonialism has hitherto largely avoided a consideration of the considerable body of Anglophone fiction that emerged from pre-independence Malaya. This studies rectifies the omission, offering an illuminating assessment of the work of four major writers, and arguing persuasively for the re-evaluation of their writing as part of a more general account of the development of Malaysian culture. This book makes a vital contribution to its field, and will be valuable resources for scholars in search of an authoritative guide to the way the country was represented in the writings of its colonial masters.
This highly original and — indeed bound to become seminal — study by Dr. Mohamad Rashidi Pakri takes the student and scholar of Malaysian and world literature on highly stimulating literary adventure as daring as those undertaken by four authors he examines, Frank Swettenham, Hugh Clifford, George Maxwell and Anthony Burgess. For so long the unique case of colonial Malaya’s literal output, by these representatives of empire, has been harshly and simplistically judged merely because their works were penned at the height of Britain’s imperial project. Dr. Pakri has now elevated the discourse and convincingly illustrated how these text now become welcome additions to the post-colonial cannon, once we begin to view the works on their own terms with the tools we have out of our disposal today. The Fiction of Colonial Malaya makes an invaluable contribution to a more fulsome appreciation of the intricacies of colonial Malaya’s literary responses to its place in history and indeed to Malaysia’s place in world literature.
– Dr. Wilhelm Snyman, Senior Lecturer in the School of Literature and Languages, University of Cape Town
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Table of Contents
An Imperialist’s Adventure in Since the Beginning, and a Young Prince in A Prince of Malaya
One Brave Colonial Officer and a Very Lonely Traveller
A Sportive Young Man
Burgess and His Tale of Malaysia’s Past and Future