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The Forbidden Kingdom [Paperback]

Jacob Slauerhoff , Paul Vincent

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Book Description

Feb. 12 2013 Pushkin Collection

Blending historical chronicle, fiction, and commentary, The Forbidden Kingdom brings together the seemingly unrelated lives of a twentieth-century ship's radio operator and the sixteenth-century Portuguese poet-in-exile Luis Camoes.
Jacob Slauerhoff draws his reader into a dazzling world of exoticism, betrayal, and exile, where past and present merge and the possibility of death is never far away.

Born in The Netherlands in 1898, upon graduating from university Jacob Slauerhoff signed up as a ship's surgeon with the Dutch East India Company. He was at sea throughout his life, voyaging to the Far East, Latin America, and Africa.

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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: 16.5 x 11.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #778,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


His personal involvement and his unique style-sometimes clipped and ironic, at other times lyrical and visionary-give his books a place of their own in the history of the novel -- R.P. Meijer Literature of the Low Countries In his prose he is great and irresistible -- Bert Schierbeek De Groene Amsterdammer

About the Author

Jan Jacob Slauerhoff was born in the Leeuwarden, The Netherlands in 1898. After a childhood plagued by bouts of asthma, he studied medicine in Amsterdam, where he also began writing poetry. His first work was published in 1921, and by the end of his life he was considered one of the most important writers in Dutch.In 1923, upon graduating from university, Slauerhoff signed up as a ship’s surgeon with the Dutch East India Company. Despite poor health, he returned to the sea throughout his life, voyaging many times to the Far East, Latin America and Africa. On his last voyage, to South Africa in 1935, Slauerhoff contracted malaria. He died in Hilversum, The Netherlands in 1936 at thirty-eight.

Paul Vincent is one of the most renowned translators of Dutch literature for the past twenty years. His work is internationally recognised and he has won quite a few major awards. He was the recipient of the first David Reid Poetry Translation Prize for this translation of Hendrik Marsman’s famous poem 'Herinnering aan Holland' (Memory of Holland) in 2006. Paul has recently translated an impressive list of Dutch literary novels including: 'Inevitable' by Louis Couperus (Pushkin Press, London, 2005). He has a strong academic background in literature, linguistics and translation theory as well as teaching and practical interpreting experience. From 1967 to 1989 he was a full time Lecturer and Senior Lecturer in Dutch Language and Literature at Bedford College, University of London, and University College London. He left his academic career in 1989 to become a freelance translator of Dutch and German into English. He writes many articles and continues to act as a tutor for a wide range of courses and workshops.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.

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