In world’s literature, we know the Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as the famous work. This story tells about forbidden love between Romeo and Juliet. They live in the different situation, but they’re in love each other. This story become very popular, and learnt by every student who learns literature (I have never read it yet).
Actually, Javanese literature has similar story called Rara Mendut Prana Citra. The biggest difference aspect from these two stories is Rara Mendut is anonym; no one knows who the writer is. This story becomes popular when it used as a story in Kethoprak (Drama in a stage – traditional opera of Javanese). But no one knows when first time this story appears.
Many stories used in Kethoprak are anonym, but some of them are real (truly happen in the past). For example, the story taken from Babad Tanah Jawi; the born of Jaka Tingkir. Mostly, Kethoprak taken some parts in Baratayudha or Ramayana, with little improvisation.
Rara Mendut Prana Citra, they’re in love, but their social class makes them always separated. This situation becomes more difficult when someone appear between Rara Mendut and Prana Citra. The man is Tumenggung Wiraguna, a very rich man. He loved Rara Mendut, and kill Prana Citra. Finally, Rara Mendut killed herself with the Wiroguna’s dagger.
We have many great literary works; some of them are the masterpieces in literary work. Even if compared by other literary works from the famous authors around literature students. We have Empu Panuluh, Empu Kanwa, Empu Prapanca, Sultan Agung, R. Ng. Ronggowarsito, S. H. Mintardja, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, etc. Each name above has their own masterpiece. S. H. Mintardja makes a great story in Nagasasra Sabuk Inten. Many people think that Mahesa Jenar (main character of this novel) is truly live in the past. Pramoedya (famous as ‘Pram”) makes many great stories. He is the man who able to write Indonesian language without mistakes in structure. No one of his sentences is useless.
This is only introduction to the Javanese literature. Next time I will share about the great masterpiece in Theater; drama in the stage. In this area, a name will appear which in the future this name becomes legend in the Javanese drama: Basiyo.