The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English

By Rajeev S. Patke; Philip Holden | Go to book overview

4
Malaysian and Singaporean
writing to 1965

Overview

Though the British presence in the Malayan peninsula dates back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, indigenous writing in English began much later, and its first appearance in the late nineteenth century was confined to a specific minority. Major developments in creative writing in English had to wait until after the end of the Second World War. While the British prepared for decolonization and independence for the region in the 1950s, Malayan writers set about the task of defining or inventing a Malayan consciousness in English. Much of the early writing turned to the genre of poetry, which continues to be the elite genre preferred among writers. Fictional writing followed, much of it in the form of the short story, while drama remained the slowest genre to take root in the region, indicating the difficulty experienced by playwrights in reconciling the needs of plausible theatrical representation with local English speech rhythms and intonation.


The British in Malaya

The spread of British influence over the Malayan peninsula was gradual, just as the subsequent dissemination of the English language to the peoples of the region was selective. The obliqueness of both developments helps account for the fact that though the English landed in Malaya and Singapore in the late eighteenth and early twentieth century respectively, writing in English did not consolidate into a recognizable local tradition until after the Second World War.

Western schooling was brought to Malaya by missionaries. The first English-medium schools were set up soon after the establishment of the Straits Settlements. Stamford Raffles, who acquired the island of Singapore for the British East India Company, devised a plan for a ‘Malay College’ and a ‘Singapore Institution’, which would assemble knowledge about local cultures and societies while educating the sons of the local aristocracy in English and educating Company officials in local languages (Wong and Ee

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The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Routledge Concise History of Southeast Asian Writing in English i
  • Routledge Concise Histories of Literature Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments x
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - Historical Contexts 9
  • 3 - Linguistic Contexts 28
  • 4 - Malaysian and Singaporean Writing to 1965 43
  • 5 - Filipino Writing to 1965 62
  • 6 - Narrative Fiction 1965–1990 81
  • 7 - Poetry 1965–1990 100
  • 8 - Drama 1965–1990 125
  • 9 - Expatriate, Diasporic and Minoritarian Writing 137
  • 10 - Contemporary Fiction 1990–2008 151
  • 11 - Contemporary Poetry 1990–2008 165
  • 12 - Contemporary Drama 1990–2008 190
  • 13 - From the Contemporary to the Future 203
  • Works Cited 217
  • Guide to Further Reading 236
  • Glossary of Terms 252
  • Index 257
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