Free kindle book and epub digitized and proofread by Project Gutenberg. Van Oudijck is the commissioner of an East Javanese residency of the Dutch East Indies. Eerie, lush, psychologically acute, this Dutch masterpiece from (in a fine new translation by Paul Vincent) is one of the great novels of the.

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The Hidden Force by Louis Couperus. Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review ‘s biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers.

Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge and remind and warn you that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

The complete review ‘s Review:. The Hidden Force is set in Java aroundand centres around the family of Van Oudijck, the resident essentially the man in charge for the district of Labuwangi in the Dutch colony.

Not yet fifty when the book begins, he is successful and good at his job he’s been resident here for some five years and likes his life; he’s not even that eager to get a promotion and move up to being the resident in Batavia Jakarta or a similarly important place — and he dreads the thought of retiring in the Netherlands, where he would be pretty much a nobody, and know no one. He does have a weakness fhe sorts: Divorced, he has four children from his first wife: Indeed, Van Oudijck lives in blissful or willful ignorance of hidcen of what is going on in his household: She has an affair with Addy.

And she has an affair with her stepson Theo — at the same time. She is amoral but not really or at least usually bad: Her hideen trusts and loves her completely; he doesn’t even consider for the longest time that she may be getting up to inappropriate things behind coupfrus back — though he is constantly getting letters denouncing her and accusing her of horrible things many of which she is, in fact, guilty of.

The Hidden Force by Louis Couperus | : Books

But then he constantly gets letters denouncing most everyone Other characters are also well-drawn, including the empty vessel that is Addy: Addy did not seem to possess a modicum of intellect or imagination, and was incapable of uniting two ideas into one composite thought.


He merely felt, with tye vague good nature that had settled on the entire family. For the rest, he was like a beautiful animal, degenerate in soul and couerus, but degenerated to nothing, to one great nothing, to one great emptiness, while his body had become like a renewal of race, full of strength and beauty, while his marrow, his blood, his flesh, and his muscles had become one harmony of physical seductiveness, so perfectly and stupidly beautiful, that its harmony had fouperus a woman an immediate appeal.

Addy gets around, too, and certainly seems to have met his ideal match in Mrs. Van Oudijck; unfortunately, Doddy fell for him at a very tender age and has pretty much wasted any opportunity she might have had forc as going to school back in the Netherlands in pining for him.

The Hidden Force

Another character of interest is Eva Eldersma, who is married to a too hard-working assistant of Van Oudijck. She is frustrated by her husband’s focus on his work, but unlike most doesn’t go in for the easy affair she could have she, too, has a devoted admirerand instead tries to make the best of life here, putting on entertainments and the like.

But even Eva’s efforts only go so far, and she too is overwhelmed. She comes to recognise the hopelessness of recreating European culture of the sort she was used to music, literature here. The big blow is the rainy and hot weather, which literally rots and destroys almost everything — but the rot of course goes much further than the physical.

But it takes a lot for her to finally complain: Why do we bring all the paraphernalia of our costly civilization with us, considering that it will never last? Coupperus don’t we live hidddn a cool bamboo hut, sleep on cou;erus mat, dress in a kain pandjang and a chintz kabaaiwith a scarf over your shoulders and a flower in our hair? All your civilization by which you propose to grow rich And, indeed, The Hidden Force is a story about the futility and cost of colonialism. Couperus shows some of the cost to the local population, as the resident must also deal with the much-admired local hiden which is also tending towards degeneracy, helped along by alcoholism and a gambling habitbut it’s the failure of the colonialists themselves that is central.

They suffer, they are bored, and while they can get together for a good cause the larger picture is one of growing decay moral and otherwise. Van Oudijck is a good administrator, handling some difficult situations well — yet even he is, by the end, a completely broken man.


Eva, too, leaves Labuwangi — her husband having been more simply broken, by overwork — and on her way home visits Van Oudijck, who louiis once again latched onto a woman and makes do as best he can — a fitting scene showing what their world has forc to There’s also a ‘hidden force’ at work in the book — or several. One is of a supernatural hdden But Couperus doesn’t go hidsen far overboard with the supernatural and for the most part it is a believable touch, as the locals are also very superstitious.

Couperus firmly believes that colonial rule only reaches the surface: But, down in its soul, it had never been conquered, though smiling in proud contemptuous resignation and bowing submissively beneath its fate. The cultures remain irreconcilable, the colonial experiment doomed to failure. Couperus winds things up rather quickly and a bit awkwardly, as the characters disperse, with some too quickly out of mind and sight Theo, for example.

But even in the resolution there are some nice touches, the catastrophe not quite complete but tied together well.

the hidden force

Couperus does occasionally get carried away, tne a few of the ideas stray a bit too far, but his rich characterisation and the clever way he goes at presenting colonial degeneracy make The Hidden Force well worthwhile. And it is all quite engagingly written.

Note that in his Introduction E. In the original Dutch, Couperus’s unorthodox syntax is replete with neologisms. He commits violence on ordinary syntax and idiom, and always appears to do so with an almost irritating nonchalance.

The Hidden Force: A Story of Modern Java by Louis Couperus

Teixeira de Mattos’ translation revised and updated by Beekman forcs who notes: Despite some oddities, it seems quite adequate in this revised form. Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs. The Hidden Force – US. The Hidden Force – UK. The Hidden Force – Canada. The Hidden Force – India. Die stille Kraft – Deutschland.

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