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The Hidden Force A Story of Modern Java   By: (1863-1923)

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A Story of Modern Java

by LOUIS COUPERUS translated by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos

Jonathan Cape Eleven Gower Street London

First published 1922 All rights reserved

Printed in Great Britain by Turnbull & Spears, Edinburgh


The Hidden Force gives a picture of life in the Dutch East Indies in the last year of the nineteenth and the first year of the twentieth century. Conditions have altered slightly since then Dutch ladies no longer wear "sarong" and "kabaai" so generally, and there are other minor changes but the relations between the Europeans and the natives remain very much as they were.

I have translated nearly all the Malay and Javanese words scattered through the text, agreeing with my publisher that the sense of colour throughout the book is strong enough without insisting on these native terms, and I have done my best to reduce foot notes to a minimum.

Alexander Teixeira de Mattos

Chelsea, 20th November 1921


Page Translator's Note 5 Chapter One 9 Chapter Two 19 Chapter Three 26 Chapter Four 39 Chapter Five 46 Chapter Six 54 Chapter Seven 59 Chapter Eight 69 Chapter Nine 78 Chapter Ten 94 Chapter Eleven 102 Chapter Twelve 111 Chapter Thirteen 116 Chapter Fourteen 123 Chapter Fifteen 129 Chapter Sixteen 140 Chapter Seventeen 150 Chapter Eighteen 153 Chapter Nineteen 165 Chapter Twenty 174 Chapter Twenty one 188 Chapter Twenty two 193 Chapter Twenty three 204 Chapter Twenty four 214 Chapter Twenty five 225 Chapter Twenty six 234 Chapter Twenty seven 244 Chapter Twenty eight 251 Chapter Twenty nine 258 Chapter Thirty 275 Chapter Thirty one 287 Chapter Thirty two 294


The full moon wore the hue of tragedy that evening. It had risen early, during the last glimmer of daylight, in the semblance of a huge, blood red ball, and, flaming like a sunset low down behind the tamarind trees in the Lange Laan, it was ascending, slowly divesting itself of its tragic complexion, in a pallid sky. A deathly stillness lay over all things like a veil, as though, after the long mid day siesta, the evening rest were beginning without an intervening period of life. Over the town, whose white villas and porticoes lay huddled amid the trees of the lanes and gardens, hung the windless oppression of the evening air, as though the listless night were weary of the blazing day of eastern monsoon. The houses, from which not a sound was heard, shrank away, in deathly silence, amid the foliage of their gardens, with their evenly spaced, gleaming rows of great whitewashed flower pots. Here and there a lamp was already lit. Suddenly a dog barked and another answered, rending the muffled silence into long, ragged tatters: the dogs' angry throats sounded hoarse, panting, harshly hostile; then they, too, suddenly fell silent.

At the end of the Lange Laan the Residency lay far back in its grounds. Low and vivid in the darkness of the banyan trees, it lifted the zig zag outline of its tiled roofs, one behind the other, against the dark background of the garden, with one crude line of letters and numerals that dated the whole: a roof over each gallery and verandah, a roof over each room, receding into one long outline of irregular roofs... Continue reading book >>

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