Book blurb: “This is one of the most realistic, no-holds-barred novels ever written about Dutch colonial life in Indonesia during the nineteenth century.”

Ups & Downs of Life in the Indies (Library of Indies)
ISBN: 9625935126

The prose reminded me of Joseph Conrad. Maybe it was the flavour of writing.

Parts of the speech was familiar for readers in this region. E.g. “sudah”, “sudah”, “kongsi” (the glossary explains the meanings of several terms).

Interesting, in that I can imagine this might have also been the similar perspectives and common speech used during Singapore colonial days.

The Preface and Introduction read like a concise history of Dutch colonisation of Indonesia, as well as the then prevailing customs and practices. E.g. p15. In 1880, it was customary for a Dutchman to employ a female housekeeper (“njai”) to be the liaison with the locals, taking care of daily administrative and household sundry affairs. Even for a Dutchman bachelor to look towards the njai for “fulfillment of his sexual needs”.

Advertisements