Presentation on theme: "Malaysian Literature in English. LLOYD FERNANDO a MALAYSIAN but was born in Sri Lanka in 1926, and in 1938, at the age of twelve, he migrated to Singapore."— Presentation transcript:
Malaysian Literature in English
a MALAYSIAN but was born in Sri Lanka in 1926, and in 1938, at the age of twelve, he migrated to Singapore with his family. This early migration across the Indian Ocean had an enriching influence on Fernando, the writer and scholar, as it was to plant the seeds of a transcultural, diasporic imagination in him at an impressionable age. Life was moving along at a steady pace, and Fernando continued his schooling at St Patrick’s, but the Japanese occupation of Singapore from 1943 to 1945 dealt a severe blow, interrupting his formal schooling and, most tragically, costing his father’s life in one of the Japanese bombing raids. Following his father’s death, Fernando started working as a trishaw rider, construction labourer and apprentice mechanic, to support himself and the family.
He also joined the Ceylon branch of the Indian National Army, not impelled by any ideology but out of a sheer necessity for self-sustenance. After the war, Fernando completed his Cambridge School Certificate and embarked on a school teaching career. In 1955, he entered the University of Singapore, graduating in 1959 with double Honours in English and Philosophy. In 1960, he joined the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur as an assistant lecturer, and returned to the same post four years later, having obtaining a Ph.D. in English from the University of Leeds, England. In 1967, he was elevated to Professor and Head of English at the University of Malaya, posts he held until People retire at Malaysia at 55, and so when it was time for him to retire, Lloyd didn’t want to have to continue on a yearly contract, and not be certain of anything. He decided to take up law. He went to England and studied law at City University and then at Middle Temple, coming back with his law degrees. He joined a firm, and eventually started his own practice here, which he continued right up to the time he had a stroke, which was in December Died 28 February 2008
Twenty-two Malaysian Stories: an anthology of writing in English (1968) – edited anthologies New Drama One (1972) - edited anthologies New Drama Two (1972) - edited anthologies Scorpion Orchid (1976) – 1 st novel "New Women" in Late Victorian Novel (1977) - criticism Modern Malaysian Stories (1982) – edited anthologies Cultures in Conflict (1986) - criticism Green is the Colour (1993) – 2 nd novel
It is about racial and religious tolerance set against the shadow of the 1969 riots in Kuala Lumpur. A story of humanity struggling against the cold inhumanity of closed minds. The central concern of this work is how people of different races face the challenges of living side by side. After the infamous May 13, an artificial togetherness has been created to prevent more such occurrence. Then, fresh violence breaks out and into this are thrown several characters of different races, religions and political affiliations, and different levels of tolerance. An uncompromising look at Malaysia's past, it articulates with keen insight some unexpressed truths about how we see each other in a multi-racial world. A Malaysian classic.
The country is still scarred by violence, vigilante groups roam the countryside, religious extremists set up camp in the hinterland, there are still sporadic outbreaks of fighting in the city, and everyone, all the time, is conscious of being watched. the story is actually a contemporary (and very clever) reworking of a an episode from the Misa Melayu, an 18th century classic written by Raja Chulan.
In this climate of unease, Fernando employs a multi-racial cast of characters. At the centre of the novel, there is a core of four main characters, good (if idealistic) young people who cross the racial divide to become friends, and even fall in love. Dahlan: a young lawyer and activist who invites trouble by making impassioned speech on the subject of religious intolerance on the steps of a Malacca church his friend from university days, Yun Ming, a civil servant working for the Ministry of Unity who seeks justice by working from within the government.
The most fully realised character of the novel is Siti Sara much of the story is told from her viewpoint. A sociologist and academic, she has newly returned from studies in America where she found life much more straightforward trapped in a loveless marriage to Omar, a young man much influenced by the Iranian revolution who seeks purification by joining religious commune. The hungry passion between Yun Ming and Siti - almost bordering on violence at times and breaking both social and religious taboos - is very well depicted. Dahlan falls in love with Gita, Sara's friend and colleague, and by the end of the novel has made an honest woman of her.
Like the others, Sara is struggling to make sense of events : Nobody could get may sixty-nine right, she thought. It was hopeless to pretend you could be objective about it. speaking even to someone close to you, you were careful for fear the person might unwittingly quote you to others. if a third person was present, it was worse, you spoke for the other person's benefit. If he was Malay you spoke one way, Chinese another, Indian another. even if he wasn't listening. in the end the spun tissue, like an unsightly scab, became your vision of what happened; the wound beneath continued to run pus.
Although the novel is narrated from a third person viewpoint, just one chapter is narrated by Sara's father, one of the minor characters, an elderly village imam and a man of great compassion and insight. The novel has villain, the unsavoury Panglima, a senior officer in the Department of Unity and a man of uncertain racial lineage. He has coveted Sara for years, and is determined to win her sexual favours at any cost.
The novel is not without significant weaknesses It is not exactly a rollicking read, and seems rather stilted there are just too many talking heads with much of the action taking place "offstage", including the rape at the end, which is really the climax of the whole novel Yun Ming, Dahlan and Omar represent contradictory ideas they espoused.
The plot of Green is the Colour never really holds together as well as it might seems to be perpetually rushing off in new directions (as actually do the characters) without fully exploring what is set up already But the strengths of the novel more than make up for these lapses
All of us must make amends. Each and every one of us has to make an individual effort. Words are not enough. We must show by individual actions that we will not tolerate bigotry and race hatred.
A sensitive novel about racial and religious tolerance set against the shadow of the 1969 racial riots in Kuala Lumpur. Koh Buck Song, The Straits Times, July 10, 1993 Lloyd Fernando has exactly recounted (the) terrifying experience many of us must have lived through those awful months. For me, it is this shared nightmare…that is the ‘objective correlative’ of May and the finest, lasting achievement of Green is the Colour. Edward Dorall, New Straits Times, 1993
Fernando creates a wonderful sense of verdant beauty of Malaysia, the ‘melodic green’ of Sara’s childhood when people could live in harmony…(but) the green of the title is not always the colour of harmony with nature…We may remember Garcia Lorca’s poem where green is the colour that kills… Dorothy Colmer, Adelaide University, CRNLE Reviews Journal. No 2, 1993
Fernando seeks to strip away the Englishness from English, to find a uniquely Malaysian prose voice…This is evident in his remarkable ear for Malaysian English, never sinking into caricature, but establishing a familiar flow…The best thing about it(the novel), and the reason I recommend it, is its picture of a society aware of its ‘roots’ but is simultaneously rootless. Amir Muhammad, New Straits Times, August 18, 1993
My intention is to argue that, in narrating the contesting visions of the nation, Fernando suggest ways of formulating/inventing a new collective identity of ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ in this multi-racial, multi-religious, multi lingual, as well as modernising and yet traditionbound, nation-state. His vision is based on the rejection of all totalitarian, exclusivist models of nationalism that allow hierarchies in the dominant discourses of race, religion and gender for one of interplay and mutuality of cultures… Professor MA Quayum, Imagining ‘Bangsa Malaysia’: Race, Religion and Gender in Lloyd Fernando’s Green is the Colour
After the communal riots of May 13th, 1969 there was no wide-scale communal strife in Malaysia such as is depicted in Green is the Colour. Nonetheless, Lloyd Fernando’s vision of post 1969 Malaysia earns its validity as a bold attempt to present the fissures within Malaysia’s modernity. Wong Soak Koon, ‘Unveiling Malaysia’s Modernity and Ethnicity: Lloyd Fernando’s Green is the Colour, in Risking Malaysia” Culture, Politics and Identity. Eds. Maznah Mohamed & Wong Soak Koon, Penerbit Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi 2001
In his novel, Green is the Colour, Lloyd Fernando explores undercurrents of our of our multiethnic society with insight and honesty. He shows a deep understanding of minds shaped by different cultures and faiths, and of conflicts that can create a nightmare world when tolerance breaks down. This is a poignant story of tender humanity struggling against the cold inhumanity of closed minds – a story relevant to all of us today. Abidah Amin