Faded Portraits

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Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1982 - 176 pages
A fictionalized memoir of family life in former colonial Dutch East Indies, Faded Portraits is the story of the once powerful DePaulys, and especially of Aunt Sophie, the matriarch, whose efforts to preserve the family heritage- the "purity" of the Dutch bloodline and culture- prove inevitably tragic. The forms to which aunt Sophie clings, and which she seeks to impose on her family, represent an arrogant blindness to the personal needs of others and to the cruelties of the colonial system, and underscore the struggles of displaced people who must accept the eclipse of their way of life. The book is reminiscent of the literature of the American South- of the novels of William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, John Crowne Ransom, Robert Penn Warren. That too was "colonial" literature, wistfully determined to record an era that was passing.

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Page 3 - Winter was always the effort to live; summer was tropical license ... summer and country were always sensual living, while winter was always compulsory learning. Summer was the multiplicity of nature; winter was school.
Page 6 - Writers in time transfer the mendacity of their craft to the other areas of their lives.
Page 9 - There was something which they did not see, an inexorable sort of gentleness, a vanity of effort, a sadness of predestined failure.
Page 3 - The first condition of right thought is right sensation — the first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it, as you smell India in Kim.
Page 3 - Something I owe to the soil that grew — More to the life that fed — But most to Allah Who gave me two Separate sides to my head.
Page 5 - As you know we went down to South Africa (Cape Town) for the winter and there happened to be a bit of a war on, and I had the time of my life.
Page 6 - But the real question for me was: how far could I claim a true knowledge of the factuality of my own past, as opposed to pointing to an artistic enhancing of it, meaning a crafty falsification? In two ways my memory was not to be trusted: I was an old man, I was a writer.

About the author (1982)

Born in Java in 1908, the son of a Dutch father and a mother of Javanese-Dutch descent, E. Breton de Nijs--the pseudonym of Rob Nieuwenhuys--is author of one other library of the Indies volume, Mirror of the Indies: A History of Dutch Colonial Literature.

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