Bitter bonds: a colonial divorce drama of the seventeenth century
One of the best books of the year.Times Literary Supplement"Leonard Blusse's book is most illuminating"--Economist(todays Jakarta) to argue in the High Court why she should be granted divorce and security of her assets from her estranged husband, Johan Bitter. . . . He represents the world of Holland and Holland overseas. Cornelia represents Batavias Eurasian world and Japan overseas. . . . Blussé . . . has pried her story from legal proceedings, family archives, letters, and municipal and church archives compiled in Batavia and Holland. . . . Through his narrative, we hear words spoken by Asian slaves, their owners, and ministers of religion; we learn about Eurasian women who provided mortgages to Chinese businessmen. Blussé brings all this in a form aimed to appeal to a general reading public; fictional monologs and reproductions of sketches and paintings by seventeenth-century recorders of Dutch urban life in Asia and Holland enliven the text.The Journal of Asian StudiesIn 17th-century Batavia, Cornelia van Nijenroode, the daughter of a geisha and a Dutch merchant in Japan, was known as "Otemba" (meaning "untamable"), which made her a heroine to modern Japanese feminists. A wealthy widow and enterprising businesswoman who had married an unsuccessful Dutch lawyer for social reasons, she discovered that just after her wedding, she and her husband were at each other's throats.Cornelia
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