NRC Live Reading Club
Ellen Deckwitz and Clarice Gargard discuss 'Oeroeg' by Hella Haasse - In Dutch
The NRC Live Reading Club is a festival tradition. The panel featured two NRC columnists, the poet Ellen Deckwitz and the journalist Clarice Gargard, who discussed Hella Haasse's Oeroeg (1948) with the help of moderator and NRC Editor-in-Chief of Books Michel Krielaars. They came up with new arguments for reading this classic - for new readers or those already familiar with the novella.
Oeroeg is a novella by the Dutch writer Hella S. Haasse (1918-2011) which was first published in 1948. It first appeared as the national Book Week present and became an important work in Dutch literature. It has been reprinted and translated many times. Haasse found inspiration in her own longing for the Dutch East Indies, where she was born and spent a large part of her youth. The Dutch first-person narrator recalls his friendship with a boy named Oeroeg. As boys there were inseparable, but due to their differences, including above all their nationalities, they grew apart. As adults they face each other as colonial overseer and freedom fighter.
Hella Haasse's Indonesian novels are about the former Dutch colony of the Dutch East Indies. Oeroeg was the first and Sleuteloog (2008) the last. One of the common themes is colonialism, especially the relationship between the Netherlands and its former colony, the Dutch East Indies. Colonial issues come to the forefront in Oeroeg.