This Earth of Mankind

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This Earth of Mankind
AuthorPramoedya Ananta Toer
Original titleBumi Manusia
TranslatorMaxwell Lane (English)
CountryIndonesia
LanguageIndonesian trans. to English
SeriesBuru Quartet
GenreHistorical novel
PublisherHasta Mitra
Publication date
1980
Followed byChild of All Nations 

This Earth of Mankind is the first book in Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Buru Quartet. Hasta Mitra first published it in 1980. The story happens at the end of the Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia. Pramoedya wrote the novel in prison on Buru island in eastern Indonesia. Pramoedya told the story aloud to other prisoners in 1973 because he was not allowed to write.[1] The story spread through all the prisoners until 1975. Then Pramoedya was finally allowed to write the full story.

The main character and narrator of This Earth of Mankind is a Javanese boy named Minke. He attends an elite Dutch school. Minke's life becomes dangerous when he falls in love with Annelies, the beautiful Indo daughter of Nyai Ontosoroh. In This Earth of Mankind, Pramoedya showed the racism of the Dutch colony. [1]

The Indonesian Attorney General banned This Earth of Mankind in 1981.[2] Many copies of the first editions survived. In 2005 the publisher Lentera Depantara started to publish it again in Indonesia. It had already been published worldwide in 33 languages.

Plot summary[change | change source]

This Earth of Mankind tells the story of Minke. He is a Javanese minor royal who studies at a Dutch Hogere Burger School. At that time, usually only Europeans could study there. Minke is a talented young writer. His writing is published in several Dutch-language journals. They are popular. But many of Minke's classmates hate him because he is native. His classmates are all at least partly European descent.

Minke meets an unusual Indonesian woman, Nyai Ontosoroh. She is the concubine of a Dutch man called Herman Mellema. Minke falls in love with their daughter, Annelies. They marry in an Islamic wedding. But by Dutch law, they are not marriedbecause it was native and Annelies' Dutch guardians did not approve.

It was common for local women to become the concubines of Dutch men living in the East Indies. Their children were either illegitimate "natives" and lost legal rights. Or if their father accepted them as his children they were called "Indos". Then the mother lost all rights over their children. Nyai Ontosoro suffers because of her low status and lack of rights. But, she believes education is the way to show her basic humanity. She believes that learning is the way to oppose racism, stupidity, and poverty. However, deciding to make her children Herman Mellema's children causes terrible problems for them.

Published by ex-political prisoners[change | change source]

After release from detention in April 1980 Pramoedya and Hasjim Rachman met with Joesoef Isak. Rachman had been editor of the Eastern Star. Isak used to be a journalist at the Merdeka newspaper. He had been in Salemba prison. They agreed to publish works by ex-political prisoners that other publishers would not.

They chose This Earth of Mankind (Bumi Manusia) as the first book. Pramoedya began working hard on the papers that he had brought from the Buru island. Prison officials had taken most of his writing. At the same time, Hasjim and Joesoef talked to government officials, including the Vice-President, Adam Malik. They were positive about the plans.

In July 1980, the manuscript of This Earth of Mankind was sent to the Aga Press printers. 5,000 copies of This Earth of Mankind sold in 12 days. Soon other publishers in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Australia asked the publishers, Hasta Mitra, for permission to make translations. The Wira Karya publishing house in Malaysia paid royalties of as much as 12% direct to Pramoedya.

By November, Hasta Mitra had published its third edition, and had sold about 10,000 copies. The book was well-received critically. It was called "the best work of literature of our times." The Armed Forces daily newspaper called it "a new contribution to the treasury of Indonesian literature".

Banned[change | change source]

the Attorney General of Indonesia banned This Earth of Mankind in 1981. He said it promoted Marxist-Leninist ideas and Communism. Neither are in the book.[2]

First, the Ampat Lima printing house were told to not print any books published by Hasta Mitra. The editors of major media were told that they were not allowed to review or praise This Earth of Mankind or any of Pramoedya's other writing.

In April 1981, some New Order youth groups criticized Pramoedya's writing. Mass media reported this as the people not liking Pramoedya's work. New Order media such as Suara Karya, Pelita and Karya Dharma began publishing criticisms of This Earth of Mankind and its author.

The Association of Indonesian Publishers (IKAPI) had been planning an exhibition of books that year. They canceled Hasta Mitra's membership in the association. IKAPI had been enthusiastic about asking the publisher to become a member and be involved in its activities. Newspapers that used to support Pramoedya stopped publishing his writing. They also started rejecting writing by authors who supported Pramoedya.

Finally, on 29 May 1981, the Attorney General published regulation SK-052/JA/5/1981 about the banning of This Earth of Mankind and its sequel Child of All Nations (Anak Semua Bangsa). The regulation mentioned a letter from Suharto.

The Attorney General's office took all copies of This Earth of Mankind and Child of All Nations tried to take all copies of the books from all book shops. However, by August 1981, they only took 972 copies of the books although about 20,000 copies had been printed.

The translator of This Earth of Mankind into English, Maxwell Lane, was a staff member of the Australian Embassy in Jakarta. The Australian Government recalled him in September 1981. The Ampat Lima printing company closed because of pressure from the Attorney General's office and the Interior Ministry.

Translations into other languages[change | change source]

  • Bumi Manusia, Hasta Mitra, 1980 (Jakarta, Indonesian)
  • Aarde Der Mensen, Manus Amici, 1981 (Amsterdam, Dutch)
  • Ren Shi Jian, Beijing Da Xue, 1982 (Beijing, Chinese)
  • Ren Shi Jian, Dou Shi Chu Ban Selangor, 1983 (Malaysia, Chinese)
  • Bumi Manusia, Wira Karya, 1983, (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian)
  • This Earth of Mankind, Penguin Book, 1983 (Australia, English)
  • Garten der Menschheit, Express Editio, 1984 (Berlin, German)
  • Im Garten der Menschheit, Albert Klutsch-Verlags-Vertrag, 1984 (German)
  • Människans Jord, Förlaget Hjulet, 1986 (Stockholm, Swedish)
  • Ningen No Daichi, Shinkuwara Mekong Published, 1986 (Japanese)
  • MИP ЧEЛOBEЧECKИЙ, Radooga Moskwa 1986 (Russian)
  • CBIT ЛЮДCbKЙ, In Ukrainian, 1986 (Ukrainian)
  • Garten der Menschheit, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, 1987 (German)
  • Aarde der mensen, Unieboek, 1987 (Amsterdam, Dutch)
  • Ang Daigdig ng Tao, Solidaridad Publishing House, 1989 (Manila, Filipino)
  • Questa Terra Dell'Uomo, Il Saggiatore, 1990 (Milan, Italy)
  • Minke, O Neul Publishing, 1990 (Korean)
  • This Earth of Mankind, Penguin Book, 1990 (New York, English)
  • This Earth of Mankind, William Morrow & Co., Inc, 1991 (New York, English)
  • Människans Jord, Norstedts Förlag AB, 1992 (Stockholm, Swedish)
  • Tierra Humana, Txalaparta, 1995 (Navarre, Spanish)
  • Erbe Einer Versunkenen Welt, Verlag Volt und Welt, 1996 (German)
  • Aarde der mensen, Uitgeverij De Geus, 1999 (Breda)
  • This Earth of Mankind, Penguin Book, 2000 (Italy)
  • Le Monde des Hommes, Payot & Rivages, 2001 (Paris, French)
  • Menneskenes Jord, Pax Forlag A/S, 2001 (Oslo, Norwegian)
  • Tiera Humana, Edisiones Destino, S.A., 2001 (Barcelona, Spanish)
  • This Earth of Mankind, Bertrand Editorial, 2002 (Portuguese)
  • This Earth of Mankind, Leopard Förlag, 2002 (Swedish)
  • Bumi Manusia, Radio 68H, 2002 (Radio Broadcast, Indonesian)
  • Esta estranha terra, Livros Quetzal, 2003 (Portuguese)
  • Människornas Jord, Leopard Förlag, 2003 (Stockholm, Swedish)
  •  ?, Alfa-Narodna Knjiga, 2003 (Serbian)
  • แผ่นดินของชีวิต, Kobfai Publishing, 2003 (Thai)
  • Bumi Manusia, Lentera Dipantara, 2005 (Indonesian)
  • دھرتی کا دکھ, Mas'ud Ash'ar, 2009 (Lahore, Urdu)
  • 'Manushya Bhoomi' tr.by S.A.Qudsi,(Malayalam-Indian)- Chintha Pub-2011

Adaptation[change | change source]

This Earth of Mankind was made into an Indonesian language movie. Production started in 2006. Armantono wrote the script. The moviewas shown in Indonesian movie theaters in August 2019.[3]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Author Interview". Penguin Reading Guides on This Earth of Mankind. Penguin Group. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Alit Ambara (27 March 2010). "Banned book". Indonesian Institute of Social History. Retrieved 17 April 2014.
  3. Lukman, Josa. "Pramoedya's reputation piques cinemagoers' interest in movie adaptations". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2019-08-22.