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A classic of early modernism The Forbidden Kingdom (Het Verboden Rijk) is the masterwork of Jan Jacob Slauerhoff – a romantic tale of adventure, seafaring and colonialism, told through an experimental narrative.
An intoxicating mix of time travel and adventure, The Forbidden Kingdom revolves around the Portuguese imperial outpost of Macao in China. Two men journey to the colony: the exiled sixteenth-century poet Luis de Camoes, author of The Lusiads, and a twentieth-century ship’s wireless operator. With their overlapping stories Slauerhoff draws his reader into a dazzling world of exoticism, betrayal and exile, where past and present merge and the possibility of death is never far away.
Translated from the Dutch by the award-winning Paul Vincent, The Forbidden Kingdom by Jan Jacob Slauerhoff is published by Pushkin Press.
Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936) was born in the Netherlands. After a sickly childhood, he studied medicine in Amsterdam before enlisting as a ship’s surgeon with the Dutch East India Company, working on the infamous China-Java-Japan route. His first poetry collection, Archipelago (Archipel), was published in 1921, and he came to be regarded as one of the most important writers in Dutch – a poète maudit to compare to Baudelaire or Verlaine. A troubled life, which involved numerous sea voyages to the Orient, South America and Africa, as well as a marriage to the dancer Darja Collin, Slauerhoff contracted malaria on a journey to South Africa, and died.