Hikayat Abdullah

Reprint 29
Hikayat Abdullah
An Annotated Translation by A.H. Hill
With Foreword by Cheah Boon Kheng
364pp. Size: 145x220mm. Hardcover

For all its shortcomings - the blunders of fact, the confused chronology and the frequent moral perorations - Munshi Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir's autobiography,the Hikayat Abdullah, is a document of much interest to historians of South-East Asia. Munshi Abdullah was an intelligent and articulate man, who had the good fortune to witness at first hand the activities of Stamford Raffles, William Farquhar and other leading personalities of his time, both English and Malay. He records in some detail his bird's-eye view of the changes taking place in Malacca and Singapore in the early nineteenth century. Although in the last fifty years his work has been criticized for its too ready acceptance of all things English, more recent scholarly analyses of his writings have revealed that he was a master of the art of subtle criticism, directed in his case toward those for whom he worked.

About the Author:

Employed as a munshi or language teacher for most of his life, Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir was born in a Melaka newly-occupied by the British in 1797 to parents of Tamil-Arab descent. Starting life as a scribe, he made such impressive headway and became so fully conversant with the subtle nuances of Malay language and culture that very soon, he became a much-sought after instructor in the language to European officials and clerics. Apart from his autobiography, Abdullah was a social commentator of some insight, as revealed through his travel accounts to the East Coast of the Malay Peninsula and his final earthly voyage to the Holy Land. It was on this last fateful journey that he succumbed to cholera in the Holy City of Mecca very soon upon arrival in May 1854.

Foreword by Cheah Boon Kheng
The Story of Abdullah
Work Consulted

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