If the chicken and the egg sometimes becomes a debate about which coachman came first, the relationship between literary works and literary criticism seems very clear: a literary criticism exists because a literary work was born first. Just as not every egg turns into a chicken, so it is with a literary work: it is not certain that the birth of a literary work will be followed by the birth of literary criticism that examines, examines, and discusses the work. However, in contrast to the fate of an egg which can only produce a chicken at maximum, a literary work may stimulate the birth of tens or hundreds of literary critiques that explore and discuss the work.

            In essence, literary criticism is written in a certain perspective when discussing a work. Meanwhile, a literary work can be said to be an aesthetic work with language mediation. As a language-mediated aesthetic construction, literature sometimes uses irony, paradox, parody, metaphor, or image as a means of its aesthetic expression; A literary work also opens the opportunity for the presence of a very diverse interpretation space, which may be hidden and implied behind the text of the work. That is what causes a successful literary work to invite dozens or dozens of literary criticisms to review the work because in a special literary work, aesthetic expressions and very rich ideas are usually attached to it, thus opening a long and endless space for interpretation. . Conversely, if a work is poor in aesthetics and ideas, what happens will not stimulate people to talk about it: once the reading is finished and it may be immediately forgotten or discarded.

            A literary work does not only deal with aesthetics because a work is written by someone who has a social environment, ideology and outlook on life, certain life experiences, and so on. All of that will influence and color the work he writes. Likewise with fictional characters who are present in a fictional work, it is possible that these fictional characters represent certain ideologies and interests. Therefore, the task of literary criticism is to raise sociocultural representations that may appear dimly in a literary text: literary criticism depicts what is vague and hidden in a work text. “Representation of the Periphery and Capitalism” written by Melani Budianta (in Keith Foulcher and Tony Day [editor],Modern Indonesian Literature: Postcolonial Criticism, Revised Edition Clearing A Space , Jakarta: Yayasan Obor Indonesia and KITLV-Jakarta, 2008) are examples of how literary criticism can reveal sociocultural changes depicted in literary works: Aman Dt. Madjoindo with two novels written in different years presents different fictional characters in their response to the domination of money. In the novel Tjerita Boedjang Bingoeng (1936) there is a naive village boy who refuses to use money in an increasingly materialistic society, while in the Madjoindo novel, which was published later, Si Doel Anak Betawi (1940s) a village child from a marginal Betawi community tries to enter market competition which is increasingly dependent on money.

            Melani Budianta’s writing is a literary criticism with a postcolonial perspective when examining the literary works that he discusses. For the same literary work — commensurate with the development of the humanities — various perspectives are available to discuss it. For this reason, sometimes a work is discussed in a number of literary criticisms written by various critics.

            Although literary criticism is directly and indirectly related to the assessment of a literary work, wise literary criticism usually avoids criticizing and judging a work. A literary work that has never been touched by literary criticism can be a measure of the specialty of the work. So, without literary criticism blaspheming or judging a work, the position and privileges of a work can be measured from the extent to which literary criticism talks about that work. The more often a work is discussed by critics, it means that it is special, unique, and perhaps contains novelty (whether its aesthetic expression, or the idea it carries).

            Literary criticism in its simplest form is a reader’s response to a literary work he reads without having to narrate it in the form of an essay, so it may only take the form of notes along one sentence or one paragraph. A novice critic sometimes gets stuck in a normative mindset, as seen in a study involving high school student respondents. When the respondent was asked to give reasons why he liked or disliked Kuntowijoyo’s short story entitled “Dogs Invading the Graves” which he read, he expressed his dislike of Kuntowijoyo’s short story on the grounds that it contained musyrik. Kuntowijoyo’s short story does contain idolatrous scenes, that is, at midnight the protagonist of this short story digs a grave and then competes with a horde of dogs over a corpse that had been buried some time earlier to qualify for wealth by mystical means. However, the context of the idolatrous scene is someone who is desperate because he is entangled in poverty and is positioned as a victim in relation to the dominant power of money. There is a sociocultural aspect in Kuntowijoyo’s short story, namely how someone who loses in a social competition ends up running into a mystical world, which for a while is a cultural “savior”. In other words, from the careful and critical reading of Kuntowijoyo’s short story text, the short story protagonist can be positioned to a variety of different situations: he is a victim, he is a savior (who is trying to save his life which is slumped socio-economically), or he could also be a criminal who ransacked people’s graves. Thus, if the short story “Dogs Invading the Grave” is only seen with the idolatrous scenes, it will produce a severed, incomplete, and incomplete interpretation. In this case, it can be seen how a normative perspective will only result in a false and incorrect interpretation.

            The same thing is also seen in the character Datuk Maringgih in the novel Marah Roesli Sitti Nurbaya : Datuk Maringgih can be seen as a criminal who killed Sitti Nurbaya by poisoning him. However, on the other hand Datuk Maringgih can also be seen as a hero in his relationship with Dutch colonialism: Datuk Maringgih fought against the Dutch in protest against the tax increase and in the end Datuk Maringgih was killed by Samsulbahri (formerly Sitti Nurbaya’s lover) who played a soldier. colonial. Postcolonial perspective literary criticism will allow a reinterpretation of the novel Sitti Nurbaya which was first published in 1922, put it in the relation of domination – the political subordination of socio-culture in the map of Dutch East Indies colonialism that underlies this novel.

            Interpretation ambiguity due to a shift in perspective — or because of the implementation of a perspective — in literary criticism is also read in Mas Marco Kartodikromo’s novel Student Hidjo . In the novel Student HidjoDutch vocabulary is often inserted in the dialogue between characters. On the one hand, the use of Dutch vocabulary in this dialogue between figures can be seen as mimesis, but on the other hand it can also be seen as a criticism of the behavior of the natives who felt inferior to the Dutch and adopted the Dutch language as part of their social language as well as their cultural identity. . In Mas Marco Kartodikromo’s novel, not only the Dutch language is adopted to overcome the sense of cultural inferiority, but also other cultural aspects such as fashion and lifestyle. With a postcolonial perspective, the message is stored in the novel Student HidjoThis becomes more transparent: how will the indigenous people be independent if they feel inferior in front of the Dutch colonial nation and instead imitate some aspects and cultural identity of the colonial nation because in essence cultural identity is the main thing for a nation before achieving political independence.

   Furthermore, a literary criticism may use more than one perspective when discussing a work. For example, Linus Suryadi Ag’s lyrical prose. which entitled Pariyem’s Confession can be viewed from the perspective of feminism and the perspective of Gramsci’s hegemony. The feminist perspective is useful for explaining the gender inequality that is present in Pariyem’s confession , while Gramsci’s hegemony perspective can explain why sociocultural constructions that (such as) perpetuate gender inequality can occur. The same is true when discussing Nh’s novels. Dini, who has raised concerns about gender inequality, includes my name is Hiroko . Novel My name is Hirokowhich has a Japanese background with a very strong patriarchal culture (for example, women are required to serve men, including wearing and removing their shoes) will explain how such sociocultural constructions ultimately foster gender inequality, including the occurrence of sexual violence as experienced by Hiroko in the novel Nh. Early on. Hamsad Rangkuti’s short story entitled “Young Women in a Luxury Hotel” is also very interesting if it is discussed from a feminist perspective along with Gramsci’s hegemony perspective: it will be seen how the hegemony of capitalism will ultimately commodify (the body) of women.

            It can be said that an appropriate and appropriate perspective in writing literary criticism is like the size of the lens in the eye glass. Therefore, the inappropriate and inappropriate perspective of literary criticism when discussing a work will only give rise to vague, vague, and perhaps opaque readings and interpretations. On the other hand, a correct and appropriate perspective of literary criticism will produce clear and enlightening reading and interpretation.

by Abdullah Sam
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