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Document Details :
Title: Halfslachtige en halfkrachtige zielen
Subtitle: Rasvermenging in de Indische romans van Louis Couperus
Author(s): BOUDEWIJN, Petra
Journal: Spiegel der Letteren
Volume: 55 Issue: 3 Date: 2013
Louis Couperus (1863-1923) came from a family with old ties to the Dutch East Indian community and was reportedly not free from ‘tropical blood’. This paper addresses Couperus’s vision on racial mixture. This is studied in the representation of so-called Eurasians, offspring of mixed Dutch-Indonesian relationships, in three novels: The hidden force (1900), The books of the small souls (1901-1903) and Old people and the things that pass (1906). I also reflect on the cultural context in which these novels came into being, and the role that literature plays within this framework. I argue that Couperus’s vision on racial mixture was – in accordance with the public opinion during the fin de siècle – predominantly negative. His Eurasian characters are depicted as half-hearted souls that suffer from overall degeneration that is attributed to their ‘mixed’ origin and often many years of exposure to a ‘mixed’ Dutch East Indian environment.