The Ten Thousand Things

( 4 )

Overview

The Ten Thousand Things is a novel of shimmering strangeness—the story of Felicia, who returns with her baby son from Holland to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, to the house and garden that were her birthplace, over which her powerful grandmother still presides. There Felicia finds herself wedded to an uncanny and dangerous world, full of mystery and violence, where objects tell tales, the dead come and go, and the past is as potent as the present. First published in Holland in 1955, Maria Dermoût's novel was ...

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The Ten Thousand Things

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Overview

The Ten Thousand Things is a novel of shimmering strangeness—the story of Felicia, who returns with her baby son from Holland to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, to the house and garden that were her birthplace, over which her powerful grandmother still presides. There Felicia finds herself wedded to an uncanny and dangerous world, full of mystery and violence, where objects tell tales, the dead come and go, and the past is as potent as the present. First published in Holland in 1955, Maria Dermoût's novel was immediately recognized as a magical work, like nothing else Dutch—or European—literature had seen before. The Ten Thousand Things is an entranced vision of a far-off place that is as convincingly real and intimate as it is exotic, a book that is at once a lament and an ecstatic ode to nature and life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fans of magic realism will be thrilled to discover a long out-of-print Dutch classic...Dermout writes exquisitely and hauntingly of murder and loss, tolerance, and fear of “the other.” —LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Dermoût beautifully depicts the idyllic setting and handles the darker aspects of the story—ghosts, superstition, even murder—with equal skill." —Publishers Weekly, 2002
"An offbeat narrative that has the timeless tone of legend." –Time
"Mrs. Dermout, in the manner of Thoreau and the early Hemingway, is an extraordinary sensualist. But her approach is not the muzzy, semi-poetic one in which the writer damagingly affixes his own imagination to what he sees. Instead, her instinct for beauty results, again and again, in passages of a startling, unadorned, three-dimensional clarity; often one can almost touch what she describes." –Whitney Balliett, The New Yorker

"Beautiful and eerie" -–The Atlantic

"I might add that the books we return to are informed by potencies—those objects that illumine the text and our own memories. I am thinking of Maria Dermout’s magical The Ten Thousand Things." –Rikki Ducornet, novelist

"This [The Ten Thousand Things] is a beautiful book. What’s curious, you get the tone that makes you recognize that Michael Ondaatje is part of a culture, not simply a singular writer; he's part of a whole way of seeing reality." –Robert Creeley

"A son murdered by the head-hunters of Ceram. Three ghost-sisters playing on an empty beach. The curiosity cabinet and its contents. As the story circles on itself, they number in the thousands, so that anything once loved is eternal, beautiful, unchanged." –Linda Spalding, in Lost Classics

Publishers Weekly
First published in 1955, Dutch author Maria Dermo t's loosely autobiographical The Ten Thousand Things, trans. by Hans Koning, is now back in print in English. Felicia, who grew up with her Dutch grandmother on an Indonesian island, returns there from Holland with her young son, Himpies, after being robbed and abandoned by her husband. Known by the locals as the "young lady of the Small Garden," she settles easily (despite her superstitious and imperious grandmother) back into the customs and rhythms of the island, eventually accruing enough wealth to live very comfortably. Tragedy strikes when Himpies, who has grown and joined the army, is killed. A new set of characters is then introduced, throwing the narrative off somewhat, but the focus returns to Felicia at the end, as she tries to make sense of the deaths that have shaped her own life. Dermo t beautifully depicts the idyllic setting and handles the darker aspects of the story-ghosts, superstition, even murder-with equal skill.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590170137
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Series: New York Review Books Classics Series
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 221,375
  • Product dimensions: 5.02 (w) x 8.01 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction vii
1 The Island 3
2 At the Inner Bay 21
The Small Garden 23
Himpies 76
3 At the Outer Bay 113
The Commissioner 115
Constance and the Sailor 128
The Professor 154
4 The Island 193
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2013

    This is my all-time favorite book in the world, which I first re

    This is my all-time favorite book in the world, which I first read in 1964. I am married to an Indonesian, whose village bears little resemblance now to the magical island depicted. I regret that I shall never get there, but suspect that the 'there' Dermout depicted is infinitely better. Through cultural misunderstandings and disappointments, this book has given me a compass for my imagination and my life.

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  • Posted February 8, 2013

    Hauntingly beautiful story

    This book transported me to its Spice Islands location and into the life of the woman whose story forms its core. It is a magical, mystical story that I found hard to put down. In the early pages, I thought it would be similar to The Wide Sargasso Sea, but it was infinitely better. I am now reading it for the second time to again become lost in its magic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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