Monday, September 25, 2006

Where are the Classic Malay Novels?

Eternal Wanderer picked up my question:
Where are these classic Malay novels?
and ran with it in an interesting post in which he tries to find out what happened to the classical Malay novel translation project.

Along the way he uncovers this information from an article in Malaysia Today by M. Bakri Musa:
Tucked deep in the belly of the recent Auditor General's Report is one obscure item: Millions worth of books unsold at the Translations Institute. A visit to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Language and Language Agency) would reveal similar stacks of unsold books and publications warehoused in its expensive headquarters.
You mean, the classic Malay novels we don't see in the bookshops, the books we actually want to buy, are just sitting in a warehouse somewhere gathering dust?

This is too surreal for my head to cope with.


Ted Mahsun said...

You may want to buy them, but others don't. Have you seen some of the translated works by DBP? They're terrible.

For example: A Samad Said's Salina. Spelling and grammatical errors on the FIRST PAGE!

DBP doesn't have its act together.

bibliobibuli said...

i know most of the translations are bad, but i actually want copies in malay. (i used to have salina but lost my copy). we need translators who can really do the job ... and they need to be paid enough.

The Eternal Wanderer said...

Thanks Bib!!

Do you have any contacts with the publishers at Fajar Bakti, Sharon? They're the ones who print classic Malay literature for SPM kids. Not sure if they still print them though.

The ISBN of my Hikayat Malim Deman is 0 19 583314 7, last printed in 1984!! It's based on the original text that was printed in Singapore in 1960 by Malaya Publishing House.

That one was based on a text by two Englishmen and do you know that Oxford University Press may have copies of these old texts?? Oxford University press made a 1963 edition of this book as well!

Rather interesting!

Anonymous said...

Sure.. but then again, who's going to bell the cat ? It's no use your sitting around kvetching about everything, serves no great purpose.

Anonymous said...

Some of the classic prose are very, very funny when translated. I did classic prose (prosa klasik) for SPM, they're almost ridiculously bombastic. In fact, most of them sound like Japanese anime. Sure you can translate them, but the plots would not be viable in this day and age. Anyway the copyright protection for them have lapsed haven't they ? anyone can translate them if they want to.

czipkid said...

funny thing, we were just reading your blog via silverfish the last time around - apologies if we didn't really recognise you. thanks for dropping by today. hope to see you around! =)

bibliobibuli said...

eternal wanderer - fajar bakti is the local publishing arm of OUP and produces mainly textbooks. i have contacts there and have done some freelance work for them in the past - esp. promoting dictionaries. i haven't seen any of the older malay books there but maybe could ask.

anon - you are always on about belling cats! all we're doing is talking, not kvetching. i think we aren't talking about the oldest classic texts but C20th novels, which are in such short supply. i heard a. saman said is planning to publish his works down in singapore once he can get the copyright back from DBP

czipkid - hey, you turned up here v. quickly! it was very nice to meet you and wander into your bookshop. it's a very nice space.