This paper discusses the circumstances of Shakespeare’s arrival in Indonesia via the translations of Trisno Sumardjo, published in the early 1950’s. Biographical material about the translator will be presented, and there will be a discussion of the characteristics the Indonesian language and of Indonesian verse which would determine the expectations of his readers, such as rhyme, meter and style, that would influence his renderings of the poetic passages in the Bard’s plays. These are illustrated in a sampling of passages from As You Like It, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice. The Dutch translation of L. A. J. Burgersdijk was an indirect influence on the translations, and not always for the good. The paper concludes with a lengthy discussion of the extremely difficult problems that Sumardjo encountered in his translation of King Lear. This Lear was not published during the translator’s lifetime, Sumardjo’s prestige notwithstanding because he was not satisfied with the solutions he proposed.


Shakespeare, Sumardjo, Indonesian literature, translation, Raja Lear

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Jassin, H. B., ed. Gema Tanah Air: Prosa dan Puisi 1942-1948. Jakarta: Balai Pustaka, 1959.

Lindsay, Jennifer and Maya H. T. Liem, eds. Heirs to World Culture: Being Indonesian 1950-1965. Leiden: KITLV Press, 2012.

Shakespeare, William, De Werken van William Shakespeare. Tr. L.A.J. Burgersdijk. Vols. 2 & 8. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1887, 1885.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Pangeran Denmark. Tr. Trisno Sumardjo. Jajasan Pembangunan, 1950.

Shakespeare, William. Impian ditengah musi. Tr. Trisno Sumardjo. Balai Pustaka, 1953.

Shakespeare, William. King Lear. Kenneth Muir, ed. Methuen, 1987.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Tr. Trisno Sumardjo. Jajasan Pembangunan, 1952.

Shakespeare, William. Mana Suka. Tr. Trisno Sumardjo. Balai Pustaka, 1952.

Shakespeare, William. Prahara. Tr. Trisno Sumardjo. Balai Pustaka, 1952.

Shakespeare, William. Raja Lear. Tr. Trisno Sumardjo. Pustaka Jaya, 1976.

Shakespeare, William. Saudagar Venezia. Tr. Trisno Sumardjo. Balai Pustaka, 1950.

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