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.
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