The papers in Bridging The Past and The Present: A Festschrift Honouring Muhammad Haji Salleh, a volume of tributes honouring Prof. Dr. Muhammad Haji Salleh, originated from a suggestion by Md. Salleh Yaapar from Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia sometime in April 2011. So much has been written on and about him, and yet, there is so much more that can be brought to light and shared from time to time on his wide range of interests and scholarly contributions in Malay literature, traditional and modern.
Undoubtedly a literary giant in Malay literature based on his merits and continuous efforts in producing insightful, signiﬁcant, inspiring and ﬁne articles, books, essays, papers and sajak, he is also perhaps the most travelled poet-scholar from Malaysia. After living and traveling abroad, an experience which allowed him the opportunity to observe Malaysian literature from the outside world at times, he decided to return to his roots to ﬁnd his heritage, local literary traditions, continuity and pride in identity and connections with others in the Malay World.
His return to traditions takes many forms. The use of Bahasa Melayu; the use of local history, legends and myths and to rediscover the mode of thinking of the people of Malay World in the past, through his concept of Malay authorship and poetics. Hence, he lives in an “in- between” situation of tradition and modernity and does so well in adjusting to modern, different conditions. The papers in this volume are like a collective pond of some of the personal perspectives, admiration and thoughts of some of his colleagues, friends, and students towards /him and for him. They may be combined and recombined, mixed with other volumes of festschrift and collections on him to help us to know and understand him better whether as a leading educator, literary critic, scholar, editor, poet, theorist or essayist, etc as he is as one of Malaysia’s National Laureate.