Mirror of the Indies

A History of Dutch Colonial Literature


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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