House of Glass: Culture, Modernity, and the State in Southeast Asia

House of Glass: Culture, Modernity, and the State in Southeast Asia

House of Glass: Culture, Modernity, and the State in Southeast Asia

House of Glass: Culture, Modernity, and the State in Southeast Asia

Excerpt

My life was as straight as a piece of wire pulled taut, without twists and turns.
… And now it was not just bent, but tangled. And I could not see how I
could unravel the tangle. Every day I feel my throat in the tighter and tighter
grip of an outside power …

I would now have to be on the lookout, like looking for a needle in a pile
of paddy stalks. The needle must be found, even the paddy stalks have to be
destroyed. All this even though it was a small piece of pure steel, without the
rust of evil, except for that speck of idealism, that history of love of people
and country, that seed of patriotism and nationalism whose final flowering
could not yet be clearly seen. And that you are careful that you are not pricked
by that needle yourself. For the government and I as its instrument, must,
however, look upon such idealism as criminal. (Toer 1992, pp. 50–53)

Thus begins Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s magisterial meditation on the fate of one living under the spell of the colonial state in his House of Glass (1992). The time was 1912; the place, Netherlands East Indies. The narrator Jacques Pangemanann is a former Commissioner of Police. Educated in Lyon, France, he is indeed like Conrad’s Kurtz, a flower of European civilization. But what confronts his heart of darkness is an enterprise far more insidious than those of economic plunder and military conquest by colonialism. He has been asked by the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.