[en] The depiction of Batavia is examined in W. J. Hofdijk’s long epic poem In ’t harte van Java (In Java’s Heart) published in 1881; a detailed description of the city was incorporated into his narrative, showing Batavia as seen through Javanese eyes, and thus turning the city into an emblem of the fatherland itself. Founded on the northern coast of Java in 1619, the city of Batavia was admired for its picturesque beauty and its overall European character. The qualities for which it was praised hint at Batavia’s curiously hybrid nature: whilst in many respects it differed dramatically from the Netherlands, it was at the same time portrayed as quintessentially Dutch. It was an exotic, far-away place and yet an integral part of the nation. This dichotomy represented an obvious complication for writers in the Netherlands eager to extol its virtues.
CEREP (Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherche en Etudes Postcoloniales)