Literary interactions between world capital and colonial periphery in the late nineteenth century—how rebel Filipino novelist José Rizal transformed elements of decadent aestheticism in Huysmans’s À Rebours, to explosive political effect.
NITROGLYCERINE IN THE POMEGRANATE
José Rizal: Paris, Havana, Barcelona, Berlin—1
For a long time I had the vague feeling that José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere, published in Berlin in 1887 (when he was twenty-six) and El Filibusterismo, out in Ghent in 1891 (he was then thirty), were almost too astonishing, not only in their technical narrative mastery, complex development of characters and linguistic richness, but because they were among the very first novels ever written by a Filipino. They offer a huge contrast with the sometimes charming amateurishness of the work of two generations of novelists in neighbouring Indonesia, before the 1950 arrival on the literary scene of Pramoedya Ananta Toer—more than half a century after Rizal’s execution by the Spanish colonial government of the Philippines.
’My institution subscribes to NLR, why can't I access this article?’
Also available in:
By the same author:
Capricious patterns of distribution for the Nobel prize in literature as a reflection of changing geo-political currents, from belle époque to Cold War to globalized present.
What explains the extraordinary longevity of Indonesia’s ‘New Order’, and what are the legacies of three decades of dictatorship? Benedict Anderson details Suharto’s career, from colonial army to crony capitalism, and explores the consequences of his rule—political, social, cultural—for a disorientated, amnesiac present.
Political education in the dungeons of Barcelona, and the converging tracks of Filipino and Cuban revolutionaries as the 400-year-old Spanish empire enters its final throes. Benedict Anderson concludes his exploration of the late 19th-century world setting of José Rizal’s explosive anti-colonial novels.
In the World-Shadow of Bismarck and Nobel
After the literary revelations of ‘Nitroglycerine in the Pomegranate’ (NLR 27), a new political reading of José Rizal’s astonishing last novel. Imperial power, anarchist bombings and anti-colonial insurrection in the gifted young Filipino’s vision of a 19th-century global landscape.
Western Nationalism and Eastern Nationalism
Reflections from Taiwan on the history of creole and official, linguistic and long-distance nationalisms in Asia and Europe, and their implications for China. Is there any significant difference here between East and West?
Petrus Dadi Ratu
What lay behind the greatest counter-revolutionary massacre of the 20th century, the extermination of the Indonesian Left in 1965? How did the Suharto dictatorship come to power? The extraordinary testimony of a survivor on the bloody mystery at the source of its tyranny.
The Rooster's Egg
The astonishing feat of a 23-year-old Filipino folklorist who took the newly invented discipline by storm under Spanish rule. What did patriotism mean for an Ilocano before modern nationalism; how many discrepant voices could an overseas enlightenment release?
Ice Empire and Ice Hockey: Two Fin de Siecle Dreams
Indonesian Nationalism Today and in the Future
Radicalism after Communism in Thailand and Indonesia