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The Forbidden Kingdom Paperback – Feb 12 2013

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 193 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press (Feb. 12 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906548889
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906548889
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 12.1 x 16.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #844,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Thank You Pushkin Press!!! And Paul Vincent too!!! March 15 2014
By D Jansen - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Thank you so much Pushkin Press for publishing this, the first of Slauerhoff's works to be published in English as far as I can tell. Although I read this on the kindle, I have bought Pushkin Press softbound volumes in the past and can vouch for their high quality. They publish books that are a joy to own. And thank you too to the excellent translator Paul Vincent for bringing the book to life for English readers.

On to Slauerhoff. As explained in an excellent afterword by Jane Fenoulhet, Slauerhoff was born in Friesland in 1898, he died young in 1936 having suffered illness much of his life. He spent time working aboard ships as a doctor and saw much of the world, living in Africa for a time. Probably best known as a poet, he also translated numerous works from Portuguese, Spanish, and French authors, as well as contributing significant prose works of his own, of which this is but one.

This book came out in 1932 (only translated into English in 2012). It provides both snapshots of the former Portuguese colony of Macau at various points in history as well as some modernist magical realism involving odd connections between the life of a 20th-century European radio operator with that of Luís de Camões, the 16th-century Portuguese poet who lived for a while in Asia.

Fenoulhet explains it all quite nicely:

"The Forbidden Kingdom is much more than a modernist experiment with time and narrative; it is a novel of adventure, of the pioneer spirit of those early European expeditions to discover new territory and new ways of generating wealth for those who sent them on their journey. It is also a novel about the outcast, whether poet or sailor, a man exiled from the familiar world in which he grew up. He is nomadic, he yearns for happiness... ...a modern romantic who experiences intense feeling and suffering. Yet the novel also invites reflection on the colonial enterprise and the violence it involved."

This translation of a short Slauerhoff poem (from: [...] ) I think might give you a feel for Slauerhoff's talent and sensibilities.

By J.J. Slauerhoff
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Only in my poems can I make my home.
I have found shelter in no other form.
There is no hearth I've pined for as my own.
A tent could be uprooted in the storm.

Only in my poems can I make my home.
While I still know that I can find those doors
In wilderness, in woods, on streets or moors,
I fear no grief- no matter where I roam.

Long though it be, the time shall surely come
When before night my old powers cease to spark
And beg in vain for tender words of old
That I once built with, and the earth must fold
Me to my rest as I bow to the cold
Space where my grave bursts open in the dark.