This report is based on an interview of Pramodeya Ananta Toer which explains the background thought processes of his four book series the “Buru Quartet” however the references taken shall be based solely on the first book of the quartet “This Earth of Mankind”.
Pramodeya says that the idea for Minke the male protagonist of the quartet was based mostly on “Willem Wertheim” a Dutch scholar, this seems mostly ironic as one of the main antagonists in the novel happens to be the Dutch government and it is against Dutch colonialism that Minke stands up but as Toer says “He brought out the characters who had been erased from our history.” Not only this but also “I had students pore over newspaper stories from the period and wove episodes into the plot” thus it cannot be said that the lead character was based solely on one inspiration, however we do see that Minke happens to be more ambitious than his fellow countrymen and also has a more enlightened attitude which does have a European or in this case Dutch in nature and hence could explain Toer saying he was based on Willem. We also notice the similarity of the book with the events at the time when Toer was writing the book such as the power of the ruling government to take over private businesses in order to run them ‘fairly” and act as caretakers as seen in the Dutch taking over the Nyai’s business, and we also see the apparent class system and high level of social segregation which was still present in Toer’s time, it also seems that Pramodeya did have a direct source to base Minke on in the form of the Philippine novelist ‘Jose Rizal’ who was executed by the Spanish in 1896 after three years of imprisonment and torture for championing freedom from colonial rule however he does not mention this. We also see that Minke’s main enemy other than the Dutch was Robert Surhoff a man so confused by his own birth that he develops a superiority complex in order to make himself appear better than his fellow countrymen as...
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