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A. Samad Said is a renowned writer who had contributed a lot in Malaysian Literature. He had written a collection of poems, short stories, novels, and even plays. He described his works as a record of the past and also a type of measurements of a civilization of the Malay race. As a man of literature, all of his works are written in Malay language but not in a normal way. He uses an Indonesian variation of a language, which has more impact as it has a sense of aesthetics from the rhythm and pace of his writings (Nor Azah Abd Aziz, 2005).
For his poems, A. Samad Said focuses on the form and the structure of his poems. Most of his poems rhyme at the end of each line such as in the poem “Gagak Parit”. His writing also has influences of words from other languages. He borrows words from other foreign languages to further boost the effects of his poems. For example, the word “linka” which is the the Czech and Slovakian word for “line”, “chandni” (Hindi word for moonlight), “kaudu” (Estonian word for oral), “qalbu” (Arabic word for heart), “Ramadhan” (Arabic word for the fasting month) and “redha”, the Arabic word for “completely agreeing”. The most interesting thing about his poems is that each line of his poem has the same number of syllables and he mentioned during our interview that he will not publish the poem until he is satisfied with the number of syllables and the rhymes. This can be seen in his latest poem, “Elergi Suria Dan Bumi”, where the lines in the poem have exactly fifteen syllables.
As for his novels, he uses his own life experience as a subject and also a technique used in his novels. He uses his own experience to make the writing more realistic and authentic. This also augments his way of writing of placing anti-hero characters in his writings due to the influences of “realism” (A. Samad Said, 1980). This sort of writing comes from his favourite authors who are mostly English, Russian, and German writers. This also shows that he does not want to use the typical Malaysian genre of writing styles as he loves to experiment and this can be clearly seen in his first novel, “Salina”.
The themes used for his writings are mostly the suffering and corruption that he felt during the Second World War. After he stopped working for the media, he started writing novels and poems which uses the theme prostitution and also his understanding in various philosophies (A. Samad Said, 1980). A. Samad Said also uses symbolism to portray how the characters in his writings felt as he wants to let his reader feel how he expresses his feeling. This can be seen in one of his play, T. Pinkie’s Floor, as he writes the dialogue,
“I am an ancient scholar, I only hear the rustling winds telling the clouds to give me answers with its rain”
to show that there is a gap inside the character’s heart and waited for something to fill it. The reason why he uses symbolism in his writing is mainly because he wants the readers to feel exactly the same emotion the characters feel. This also enables the audience to not only understand his writings but also makes it more appealing.