During his years of imprisonment, Pramoedya kept a number of secret written documents. These were written quickly and most of the letters he wrote were never sent, not even the letters to his own children, because he had to keep them hidden from the authorities. These documents, collected in The Mute’s Soliloquy, are not polished pieces of writing, but they have an immediacy that comes from being jotted down as testaments to reflection under the most adverse conditions.
Pramoedya divided the collection into four parts, or chapters. The first, entitled “The Mystery of Exile,” deals with the condition of exile in general and with Pramoedya’s own imprisonment. The second, “Fragments of My Life,” contains autobiographical jottings. One of the most interesting passages in this section, written as a letter, deals with the time he worked for the Japanese during World War II and how this work affected his thinking about Indonesian independence. The third, “Lessons for My Children,” consists of letters and fragments of letters containing lessons he would like to have been able to teach to his own children. The final, “Deliverance,” contains thoughts written while Pramoedya was waiting for release from prison and his memorial to the dead and the missing from the prison camps.