Mirror of the Indies: A History of Dutch Colonial Literature

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1982 - Literary Criticism - 336 pages
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This book is the definitive literary history of the colonial Dutch East Indies and is partially distinguished from its predecessors by its discussion of materials ranging from natural history and religious sermons to pamphlets and the accounts of travelers from the seventeenth through the twentieth centuries. What emerges from this comprehensive approach is an unusually thorough and sensitive account of the manifold encounters of the Dutch with the East Indian societies that they conquered, tried to understand, and, finally, had to relinquish under the inevitable pressures of change and the desire for independence. This history records how a hybrid literature emerges from that of the colonial culture to become a distinct literature of its own and why the concepts derived from European cultural history--such as baroque or neoclassicism--are totally inapplicable to the works discussed here.

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Page xvii - Its debt of 140 million guilders was assumed by the state, and the commercial enterprise became a colonial empire. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Dutch influence was still determined by the littoral character of the region. Dutch presence in the archipelago can be said to have lasted three and a half...
Page xix - Tempo dulu it was once called — time past. But now, after two world wars and several Asian wars, after the passage of nearly half a century, this phrase presents more than a wistful longing for the prerogatives of imperialism; it gives as well a poignant realization that an epoch is past that will never return. At its worst the documentation of this perception is sentimental indulgence, but at its best it is the poetry of a vanished era, of the fall of an empire, of the passing of an age when issues...
Page xvi - ... eighteenth century, became not only unwieldy but tolerant of graft and extortion. Furthermore, even though its profits were far below what they were rumored to be, the Company kept its dividends artificially high and was soon forced to borrow money to pay the interest on previous loans. When Holland's naval supremacy was seriously challenged by the British in 1780, a blockade kept the Company's ships from reaching Holland, and the discrepancy between capital and expenditures increased dramatically...
Page xvi - ... and who studied the flora and fauna. These were men who not only put the Indies on the map of trade routes, but who also charted riches of other than commercial value. It soon became apparent to the Dutch that these separate ventures did little to promote welfare. In t602 Johan van Oldenbarneveldt, the Advocate of the United Provinces, managed to negotiate a contract which in effect merged all these individual enterprises into one United East India Company, better known under its Dutch acronym...
Page xxvii - All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person's (or thing's) mortality, vulnerability, mutability.

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About the author (1982)

Born in Java in 1908, the son of a Dutch father and a mother of Javanese-Dutch descent, Rob Nieuwenhuys also wrote (under the psudonym E. Breton de Nijs) Faded Portraits.

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