Grounds for Memory

Colonial Literature from the Former Dutch East Indies

The colonial literature of the Netherlands is, with the possible exception of Spanish and Portuguese letters, the most voluminous and innovative of colonial literatures in the Western world. It also has one of the longest traditions. If we restrict ourselves to the literature produced in the former colonial East Indies, now the Republic of Indonesia, we can speak of an uninterrupted tradition that began around 1600 and ended, in a formal sense, at the end of the Second World War. One should qualify this by saying that the true colonial life from which fiction was constructed then ceased to exist, but the minds which contemplated that life were active well beyond 1945. In fact, some would argue that even in the last decade of this century one still finds reverberations of this genre of literature, though I would argue that most of these texts were written by a generation that no longer has any kind of first-hand knowledge of a place and a society that was once known as tempo dulu or ‘time past’.

This literature that lived for at least three-and-a-half centuries has several unique features. First of all, one must discard the usual notions of what can be called ‘literature’. Beginning with the journals of the sixteenth-century mariners, great texts were produced by men who were totally ignorant of aesthetic canons in the European mother country. They also unwittingly established a model prose style: simple, demotic, wary of rhetoric, pungent, and enlivened with striking detail. In the eighteenth century this style was further modulated by the influence of native story-telling and it remained the major mode of colonial fictional representation well beyond the Second World War. It goes without saying that, being the individualistic medium that it is, this literature also includes several exceptions to this stylistic rule; the work of Louis Couperus (1863-1923) being perhaps the best known example.

Dutch colonial literature starts with the prose of the mariners. The journals which such men as Lodewycksz, Van der Does, Turck and Kackerlack wrote during Holland’s fateful first voyage to the Indies (1595-1597) constitute the first significant colonial texts. They provide us with vivid accounts of life on board ship (almost always a most miserable existence), with depictions of unusual sights, sounds and scenery, and with the way those untutored crews dealt with the Other in the shape of various native peoples. The latter was usually a violent confrontation, but as soon as educated men were placed in command relations became generally peaceful but also more curious. Life in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century was rough and human conduct matched it. This is well known, but there is also the lesser known fact that some of these voyagers were courageous men with minds eagerly inquiring after new facts and alternative modes of existence. Such a man, for instance, was Frederick de Houtman (?1570-1627). Although his brother’s crass conduct (Cornelis de Houtman was the commander of the first two voyages to the Indies) caused Frederick to be imprisoned in Achin for two years, he compiled the material for the first European attempt at a Malay lexicon and phrase book, studied the stars of the southern constellations, and recorded life at the court of his jailer, the Sultan of Achin. Frederick de Houtman’s phrase-book represents the beginning of Dutch linguistic investigation of Indonesian languages which, in terms of the colonial era, culminated in Herman Neubronner van der Tuuk’s work during the second half of the nineteenth century and the publication of his awesome Kawi-Balinese-Dutch dictionary, published posthumously between 1897 and 1912.

This element of intense curiosity and eagerness to learn remained strong during the seventeenth century. What might at first glance seem pragmatic texts for information gradually disclose merits which we are now more likely to classify as artistic. For instance, the poetic muse did not fare well in the colonial Indies until the two decades prior to the Second World War, yet one will find a most delicate lyrical disposition in Rumphius’s prose descriptions of Moluccan flora and fauna. His large Herbal (Amboinsche Kruydboek, published posthumously between 1741 and 1750) is not only an irreplaceable standard text for tropical botany, but also a treasure-trove of nature poetry. Because modern scientific nomenclature did not exist in Rumphius’s time, it was necessary for him to describe plants in non-technical language. He had to picture them and convince his readers of the excitement he had felt when he first encountered them. His reverence for the humblest of organisms can also be found in Ambonese Curiosity Chamber (D’Amboinsche Rariteit-kamer, 1705), in which Rumphius (?1628-1702) described tropical shellfish, shells, minerals and precious stones.

The one major prose-text of the eighteenth century is similarly a mixture of the informative and the entertaining. Published between 1724 and 1726, the descriptive history entitled Old and New East Indies (Oud en Nieuw Oost-Indien) by a divine called François Valentijn (1666-1728), has been mined for information about the VOC or the ‘United East Indies Trading Company’ and its management of the colony. But throughout the voluminous work (comprising about 5,000 pages) one will find fascinating descriptions, excellent narratives and acerbic portraits of contemporaries, all in a style that rivals the best prose written at that time in Europe. Valentijn’s writing has all the virtues of the mariners’ prose, combined with a sense of humour and a good eye for the peculiar and the picturesque. Despite his faults (he shamelessly stole material wherever he could find it) Valentijn loved gossip and was a master of anecdotal prose. He constantly interrupts himself to tell a good story, even if it has nothing to do with the matter at hand. There is, for instance, the tale of how a shoemaker tricks a legal official, his social superior; the story comes in the midst of a report on how sumptuously the Dutch lived in Batavia. And there is an incident on the island of St Jago when a Portuguese steals the hat and wig of the ship’s assistant; and a scene aboard ship when the steward, Faro, tries to hang on to a large pot of suet on a tossing and bucking ship. He falls down and can’t get up because he keeps slipping on the suet while being blown about by the wind; it is a scene of slapstick worthy of Chaplin. And I cannot help thinking that Valentijn’s observation about the teeth of the Ambonese is a dig at his compatriots. He tells us that some things the Ambonese do would ‘misbecome’ the Dutch, such as their ‘long nails (which they) redden with Lack (which is otherwise called Alcanna by the Arabs)’, but this is not true about their ‘white and clean teeth, which is very common among them, and they despise many Europeans who have teeth that are yellow or covered with a blue growth, and in this they undoubtedly surpass us’ .

The eighteenth century did not produce much memorable art, except for Valentijn, but it is remarkable for its society. Unlike any other Western colony, the Dutch East Indies rapidly became Asianized during the late seventeenth century and for the duration of the eighteenth century. The upper echelons of society in Batavia (now Jakarta) became thoroughly Indies (to use an English word that comes the closest to the Dutch Indisch) because the VOC had a policy which encouraged its male employees to marry or live with Asian women. These women and their mestizo offspring were readily granted legal status as Europeans and very shortly after its establishment the Company stopped subsidizing Dutch females to travel to the Indies. Conversely, a Dutch man married to an Asian or Eurasian woman could not return to the Netherlands as long as his wife and their children were alive. Eurasian daughters often married newly arrived Dutch men who soon occupied important positions (competition was fierce, but so was the death rate); and since few sons lived to adulthood, and those who did were prohibited from advancement if their mothers were Asian or Eurasian, wealth and influence were passed on via the women to kin acquired by marriage. We have, therefore, a rather unique situation in that for nearly two thirds of its history, Dutch colonial Mestizo society was the elite ruling class, with women as the real power brokers. This Indies society disdained European mores and preferred to be Asian in practice and appearance. They copied the grand style of living from Javanese society, wore the practical local garb of sarong and kabaya, bathed several times a day (a practice abhorred by the Dutch), adopted domestic slavery from Asian society, and generally indulged in the ease and hedonism which they copied from the Asian upper classes and for which they were severely criticized in Europe. Religion became virtually irrelevant as a social force, while money and status dictated social intercourse. Jean Gelman Taylor made the important observation that from 1645 (which is only 35 years after the first governor-general was dispatched from Holland) to 1808 (when Daendels assumed office), not a single person was appointed governor-general who had not had long and sustained experience in the Indies. Hence for a century and a half the ruling elite was for all intents and purposes independent of Holland and created its own distinctive society and style of living.

Mestizo power declined during and after the British interregnum administration of Raffles from 1811 to 1815. After the colonies had been restored to the Netherlands in 1816, the ruling emphasis shifted back to Europe and the Eurasian elite, now a large and ever-expanding number of people, moved to landed estates in the interior of Java. Though they had lost political power when European reforms were introduced after the Napoleonic era, they had also permeated colonial society. Mestizo culture could not be denied because it was this culture that became synonymous with the meaning of the word ‘colonial’ when one looked back at tempo dulu.

Specific elements of Eurasian life became part of the colonial literature and arts that began to flourish once again in the second half of the nineteenth century. Some of these characteristics were hedonism, sensuality, liberal sexual mores, hospitality, violence, stubborn individualism, emotionalism, irresponsibility and an inclination for passion. With the possible exception of recalcitrant individualism, none of these aspects were especially favoured in Dutch society or its literature. Two totally different societies had evolved, but as long as the colony produced a profit, eccentric ‘colonial’ behavior was gladly suffered with tolerant hypocrisy. In terms of culture, an independent kind of literature was gradually becoming known and kept on developing quite separately from European imperatives. Since it had no idea of what aesthetic innovations were in fashion at any given time, colonial literature had the rare luxury of evolving freely though, to be sure, it sometimes confessed to a lack of tradition. It had one, but didn’t know it yet. Colonial literature was not really mapped and codified until the middle of the twentieth century. Be that as it may, the important point here is the ignorance of European cultural tyranny: it permitted colonial literature to try innovations which standard literary orthodoxy in Holland would not dare to consider until much later.

A case in point is Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-1887), a nineteenth-century writer who, under the name of Multatuli, became Holland’s best-known writer. That he is also a colonial author reminds us of the remarkable fact that Dutch colonial literature produced four acknowledged masterpieces of modern Dutch letters: Multatuli’s Max Havelaar (1860), Louis Couperus’s The Hidden Force (De stille kracht, 1900), E. Du Perron’s Country of Origin (Het land van herkomst, 1935) and Maria Dermoût’s The Ten Thousand Things (De tienduizend dingen, 1955). This, to my knowledge, is not equalled by any other Western literary tradition.

Dekker’s masterpiece, which launched his career as Multatuli and introduced the modern period of Dutch literature, was called Max Havelaar. Published in 1860, it possessed a style and form which had not been seen before. The style – which is the nineteenth-century continuation of the mariners’ prose – was based on the rhythms of spoken language and was perfected by Dekker in long letters he wrote during his career as a colonial official in the Indies. It scorns empty rhetoric, is wildly innovative in its syntax and original in its diction. Multatuli’s prose is the voice of a passionate individual who ignores any limitations imposed by society, politics, or culture. This highly unorthodox novel is a Romantic document of great power that dazzled its contemporary audience with its virtuoso display of fictional voices. Quite apart from its revolutionary message, Max Havelaar changed Dutch letters once and for all.

Another innovator came out of the Indies a couple of decades later. The novels of P. A. Daum (1850-1898) were the first realist fiction in Dutch literature. They depict colonial society of the late nineteenth century in a sympathetic but honest way. Daum does not obfuscate; he depicts the foibles and sins of life on Java just as straightforwardly as he praises its virtues. In From Sugar to Tobacco (Uit de suiker in de tabak, 1885) and Ups and Downs of Life in the Indies (Ups en downs in het Indische leven, 1892) Daum gives us an insider’s view of how rich planters lived. They could acquire great wealth in a short time and lose it just as quickly. They lived a life that was far more uninhibited than anything Holland could imagine and the difference in social values is illustrated by the fact that what the Indies and Daum considered normal swearing or normal sexual references in his novels, were bowdlerized by Dutch publishers when some of the novels were finally accepted in the Netherlands. In a series of connected novels, Daum showed how one got ahead in what had become a rigidly bureaucratized ruling elite that was controlled from The Hague. The Peter Principle worked just as well for colonial incompetents as it does for today’s lightweights in business and government. In the novel that bears the name of its protagonist, H. van Brakel (1888), Daum gave a most affecting portrait of the decline of a European; decline and disillusion remained major themes in colonial literature. Van Brakel is an alcoholic who destroys his career and his life but it is a measure of Daum’s superior skills as a novelist that the reader is never permitted to hate this kind but weak engineer. Guna-Guna (Goena-Goena, 1889) and Number Eleven (Nummer Elf, 1893) exhibit the daily life of Indies society; the authenticity of Daum’s depiction has been praised by experts on more than one occasion. Daum attacked the hypocritical attitude of the Dutch in Europe in Indies People in Holland (Indische mensen in Holland, 1890). The novel makes it quite clear that Indies money never stank but that the people who had earned that money were said most definitely to smell. If one wants a realistic picture of what colonial life was like toward the end of the nineteenth century, Daum’s ten novels are as trustworthy a replica as one could hope for. They are eminently readable today because Daum also deliberately cultivated a forceful and direct style which avoided those rhetorical excesses which can quickly date a work of fiction. This did happen with those writers of fiction, mostly women, who produced soap-operas set in the tropics, replete with intrigue, sexual innuendo, moonlight and perfumed night air. They sold well at the time but are now only perused for sociological detail.

Only two twentieth-century authors completed their life’s work before the demise of the colony during the Second World War. The more important of these two was also the most influential colonial writer of the present century. E. du Perron (1899-1940) was perhaps not the best novelist, poet, or essayist of the first half of the twentieth century but in the aggregate he affected more people and more aspects of twentieth-century colonial literature than anyone else. He also has the distinction of being the first major colonial author to have been born and raised in the tropics, a fact that makes a great deal of difference to how that society and its environment are experienced and interpreted. Du Perron’s short life symbolizes a condensed version of the fortunes of the tropical colony. He came from a wealthy family of landed gentry who indulged him royally. He enjoyed the usual complement of servants and indifference to education, and even when his parents had moved to Europe continued for a while a life of unencumbered plenty. But Du Perron’s parents did not manage their money well and, aided by unscrupulous tradesmen and the stock-market crash, their fortune rapidly dwindled. The father committed suicide, the mother died soon after and the son found himself penniless. For the decade or so that remained to him, Du Perron lived from hand to mouth while supporting himself as a writer and a journalist.

When he returned for three years during the thirties he discovered that the Indies of his youth, the colony previously described as living according to eighteenth-century virtues, had turned into an efficient imperialism that was a business before it was a way of life. The colony was also agitating to become an independent republic. Du Perron met and talked to some of the Indonesians who, after the war, would become prominent figures in Indonesian political life. He sought out and encouraged many other people, contributed to liberal journals, helped writers get published, wrote introductions, started one intellectual magazine after the other and constantly kept tabs on anyone he considered worthy of attention. Du Perron’s correspondence is formidable. Meanwhile he began the effort to promote colonial literature as a separate and distinct genre. He did so first with a published anthology and was planning several more. He fought to enshrine Multatuli’s reputation as a colonial official as well as an author in four polemical books and, most importantly from a literary point of view, he published a large and important novel entitled Country of Origin (Het land van herkomst, 1935). Du Perron’s prose was right in line with the main tradition that began with the mariners. For instance, he called a collection of his poetry Parlando (a term used in music to indicate that the performer should present a musical text as if speaking), and all his published work is written in that mode. Country of Origin was an innovative hybrid of a novel. No one at the time knew how to place it, not realizing that the Dutch obsession with categorizing had never been of any importance in Java. The novel pits the old Indies against the Europe of the thirties and finds the latter wanting. A careful reading discloses that for Du Perron, despite all his misgivings, the former Indies, the Indies of his youth, was a form of Romanticism, not the sentimental indulgence of false emotions, but the genuine inspiration known to any other European community except the Netherlands. Besides the fact that emotionalism would find no favourable response in Holland, Du Perron also found that in interbellum Europe intellect had outreasoned intuition and emotional exhilaration, while the masses had elected the viscera and intolerance to power. Yet Du Perron had also discovered that his Indies no longer existed and that the present colony had become very much like the Europe he preferred not to inhabit. In other words, during the short span of his life he had lost both worlds, lived a homeless life, and had to accept the hard truth that he could only be housed by his own self. Du Perron’s life and work not only became symptomatic of the colonial literature produced two decades later but also turned out to be generally prophetic for the second half of this century.

One of the writers Du Perron discovered and encouraged was more than a decade older. Like so many colonials prior to the twentieth century, Willem Walraven (1887-1943) came to Java as a soldier and stayed. After many failed attempts at business, he finally managed to make a living from journalism. Walraven had married a Sundanese woman and lived what other people could only discuss as the uneasy union of east and west. Veering between hatred and devotion, discriminated against by his own kind yet not considered a full-fledged member of his wife’s people, Walraven represents a most melancholy example of the colonial tragedy. His work also reiterates the non-traditional aspect of colonial literature which states that literary treasures are to be found outside what custom has staked out. Besides some very fine stories, Walraven’s literary legacy is represented by his letters. He was a compulsive correspondent who ‘was only happy when he was writing’. In these missives from his own loneliness, one will find one of the most authentic voices in colonial literature prior to the Second World War. Walraven’s messages of exile were known to only a few at the time, but anyone who read them felt as if he had caught a glimpse of their individual pain. Walraven died in a Japanese concentration camp. His belated friend and promoter Du Perron died on the day the Dutch armed forces surrendered to the German invaders.

Just before the war started in Europe, Beb Vuyk (1905-1990) published a barely fictionalized account of the primitive but magical existence a pioneer could once lead in the tropical archipelago. Most aptly called The Last House in the World (Het laatste huis van de wereld, 1939), it describes the difficult but independent life led by Vuyk and her husband on the remote island of Bum in the Moluccas. There they tried to make a living from producing kajuputih oil but, more importantly, far removed from the strictures of modern society and an imperial bureaucracy, they managed to live life as an adventure. This novel as well as the two fine stories, ‘Journal of a Journey by Prau’ (Journaal van een prauwreis) and ‘Way Baroe’, narrate events in a present that had already been overtaken by history. The narratives seem almost magical in their uniform illumination of a place still unmarred by progress. Vuyk’s variations on a theme she formulated as ‘the wild green smell of adventure’ – and indeed her pre-war fictions dazzle with green – are poetic without ever becoming sentimental, joyous without being euphoric, and uncomplicated without being simple. These modest epics of a life that was still dangerous are valedictory praise for a time and a place that would never be again.

The greatest production of colonial literature dates from after the Second World War. Memory truly is the mother of invention. Now that the colony was irrevocably gone the processes of reclaiming it imaginatively had been set in motion. Not only were more individual texts being written, but order was applied to what hitherto had been a seemingly amorphous mass of testimonies. Du Perron had already sensed a pattern and had tried to formulate a sequential development, but it was not until Rob Nieuwenhuys (born in Java in 1908) produced a series of responsible anthologies and in 1972 his monumental literary history of this genre, Mirror of the Indies (Oost Indische Spiegel, third, revised ed. 1978), that this quite unique and rich body of work had finally been codified in a coherent fashion. Dutch colonial literature now existed as a totality, as a specific complement to a European literary tradition: individual, unusual, with its own ways of addressing human destiny. Nieuwenhuys had also wrested these texts from investigators interested in anything but literature. He proved they could stand on their own, that they had their own tradition, and that they need not apologize to anything the European home country had produced. In fact, as I already indicated, its colonial literature produced some of Holland’s masterpieces. One of these is the beguiling novel entitled The Ten Thousand Things (De tienduizend dingen, 1955) by Maria Dermoût (1888-1961). An Indies person born and raised like Du Perron and Nieuwenhuys, Dermoût fashioned a mesmeric narrative out of turbulent life in the Moluccas, the same region Beb Vuyk had written about. The structure of The Ten Thousand Things is centred on an older woman, Felicia, who once a year, on All Soul’s Day, commemorates those who she feels have been murdered, like her son. One is easily deceived by the hypnotic style, but this novel is just as violent as Country of Origin, not to mention Daum’s, Vuyk’s, Friedericy’s or Alberts’s fiction. This may not seem noteworthy today, but violent narratives were unusual for Dutch literature; vehemence of any kind was a rarity, at least until after the Second World War. Dermoût’s work is distinguished by a repetitive and languid style which owes its unique rhythms to Indonesian story-telling. Also Indonesian is her reverence for objects, no matter how small, and being able to convey the possibility of their magical significance, something known as pusaka in the archipelago. The Ten Thousand Things is a masterpiece not only because all of these elements are presented in a moving fictional story, but also because the book offers a hard-won wisdom, one that wants us to understand life and creation as a whole, without hierarchical values. And yet, no matter what one says about Dermoût’s work, there always is a residue of the unrevealed, a suggestion of mystery. Like all enduring works of fiction, there is no final explanation of The Ten Thousand Things.

Mystery is also the hallmark of the baffling stories A. Alberts (1911-) published in 1952 under the title The Islands (De eilanden). Alberts had been a government official on Java and Madura and only began to write and publish after the war. The same is true for Friedericy, Dermoût, and others. Alberts’s modernist fiction distils all the previously mentioned elements into an essence that is so concentrated that it can be viable in small amounts. All of Alberts’s fiction is unfashionably short and invariably enigmatic. His sober, almost deadpan prose is stripped of all rhetoric. It seems like the final distillate of the mariners’ prose and, should therefore, be transparently simple. But Alberts created a style of prose that baffles when it seems most limpid and achieves a resonance of meaning quite as profound as Beckett’s. The Indies of The Islands is reduced to basic elements such as green, water, heat, and stone, and is plagued by incomprehension and virulence. The tropical archipelago finally became a myth, a country of the mind, a realm of the imagination.

A great deal more can be said about Dutch colonial literature. Since the war there has been an explosion of primary literature about and learned commentary on the erstwhile tropical colony. All the authors mentioned published a great deal more. Nieuwenhuys, for instance, published a fine group portrait of an Indies family (Faded Portraits; Vergeelde portretten, 1954) which continued a genre established by Daum and Du Perron. Since Nieuwenhuys’s novel there have been many similar domestic explorations because the family is central to the emotional life of the Indo-European community. Both Vuyk and Nieuwenhuys published somewhat fictionalized recollections of life in the Japanese concentration camps. This particular sub-genre expanded dramatically after 1945, but Vuyk’s and Nieuwenhuys’s work remains unassailably superior, especially the latter’s A Bit of War (Een beetje oorlog, 1979). One should add that Nieuwenhuys published a large number of articles, anthologies, introductions, essays, and collections of old photographs over the past four decades, and is still doing so. His latest publication, Sinjo Robbie (1992), is a memoir about his youth; the book includes for the first time a discussion of the undeniable eroticism of life in the tropics. Given the prudent history of Dutch letters prior to the Second World War, it is no surprise that this controversial topic was seldom seriously acknowledged.

Besides the so-called ‘camp-literature’ the second half of this century has also seen a considerable number of publications by people who were too young by the end of the war to be cognizant of it but used whatever material was passed on to them, and by people who are descendants of the Eurasian community that was forced to migrate to the Netherlands. I would hesitate to call this colonial literature; it is rather a kind of European literature which uses life in the tropical archipelago as any writer will use anything whatsoever if it suits his or her purpose. But be that as it may, the former Indies in the role of the uncensored domain of the mind has produced first-rate narratives, including such a masterful achievement as Jeroen Brouwers’s The Flood (De zondvloed, 1988).

Dutch colonial literature is not a poor relation of mainstream Dutch letters. This extensive literature, with a tradition at least three-and-a-half centuries old, developed contiguously with Western literature, acquiring its own specific themes, mandating its own preferred style, developing its own distinctive echoes. The actuality of the life that fed this writing may be gone but the oeuvre it wrought has not dated. At the most minimal level, colonial literature is necessary because for a long time the greater emphasis has been on the political, social and historical aspects of that ever-receding past. But understanding an actual experience comes down to smell, touch, visual shocks, comes down to the emotions and the senses. This is something that the sciences, be they social or otherwise, fail to perceive but which literature will always cherish if it does not wish to be relegated to the boneyard of theory.

By E.M. Beekman

First published in The Low Countries, 1993


List of Translations

THE LIBRARY OF THE INDIES Publisher: The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Mass. General Editor: E.M. Beekman The Poison Tree: Selected Writings of Rumphius on the Natural History of the Indies (Tr. E.M. Beekman). 1981.
BRETON DE NIJS, E., Faded Portraits (Tr. Donald and Elsje Sturtevant). 1982.
MULTATULI, Max Havelaar: or The Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company (Tr. Roy Edwards). 1982.
NIEUWENHUYS, ROB, Mirror of the Indies: A History of Dutch Colonial Literature (Tr. Frans van Rosevelt). 1982.
ALBERTS, ALBERT, The Islands (Tr. Hans Koning). 1983.
DERMOUT, MARIA, The Ten Thousand Things (Tr. Hans Koning). 1983.
SCHENDEL, ARTHUR VAN, John Company (Tr. Frans van Rosevelt). 1983.
Two Tales of the East Indies: Vuyck, Beb, ‘The Last House in the World’ (Tr. Andre Lefevere) & Friedericy, H.J., ‘The Counselor’ (Tr. Hans Koning). 1983.
DU PERRON, E., Country of Origin (Tr. Francis Bulhof and Elizabeth Daverman). 1984.
COUPERUS, LOUIS, The Hidden Force (Tr. Teixeira de Mattos). 1985.
DAUM, P.A., Ups and Downs of Life in the Indies (Tr. Donald and Elsje Sturtevant). 1987.
Fugitive Dreams. An Anthology of Dutch Colonial Literature (Tr. E.M. Beekman). 1988.


Insulinde: Selected Translations from Dutch Writers of Three Centuries on the Indonesian Archipelago (ed. Cornelia Niekus Moore). Honolulu, 1978.
Memory and Agony. Dutch Stories from Indonesia, collected and introduced by Rob Nieuwenhuys (ed. E. Krispyn). Boston, 1979.

Postwar fiction which employs the Indies

BROUWERS, JEROEN, Sunken Red (Tr. Adrienne Dixon). London, 1990