- Café Amsterdam I: 'Holland for beginners'
Date: Thu 1 September Time: 7:00 pm Venue: le Café, UCCA
- Leonard Blussé discusses Bitter's Bride
Date: Sat 3 September Time: 11.30 am Venue: BIBF
Life and work
Leonard Blussé (born 1946 in Rotterdam) is attached as sinologist and historian to the University of Leiden, concerned with the field of Asian-European relations. Earlier publications include Nederlanders overzee (‘The Dutch Abroad’, 1983, together with Jaap de Moor) and Tribuut aan China. 400 jaar Nederlands-Chinese betrekkingen (‘Tribute to China. 400 Years of Sino-Dutch Relations’, 1988). Bitters bruid was awarded the 1998 Golden Owl, the premier Flemish literary prize. Blussé has a prolific written output in his field, having authored, co-authored or edited over twenty books since the year 2000.
In the seventeenth century, one of the most important motives for sailing to the Dutch East Indies was the desire to amass a fortune, and one of the fastest and easiest ways to achieve that was to latch on to a rich widow. Joan Bitter, a failed lawyer who embarked for the Indies in 1675, followed this dictum. Just six months after his arrival in Batavia (present-day Jakarta), he married Cornelia van Nijenroode, an enterprising businesswoman with considerable assets. Within a few months of their wedding, however, husband and wife were at each other’s throats.
Bitters bruid is the exciting story of an unhappy woman heroically defending herself against a heartless adventurer who has set his sights on her money. Cornelia had insisted on maintaining an independent power of disposal over her assets, but this turned out to be difficult to enforce. As her husband, Bitter had control over her possessions and refused to give her permission to engage in commerce. What’s more, he soon began searching for ways to channel her wealth back to the Dutch Republic. Although married women were considered minors in the Golden Age, Cornelia fought back and tried to get a divorce. This struggle - complete with legal subterfuge, mutual recriminations, and even public brawls - would drag on for fifteen long years.
Translation in Chinese
- Blussé, Leonard. [Kuse de jiehe.Shiqishiji helan dongyindu gongsi de yichu lihun xiju] Chinese / translated from English by Shan Leng - Lixin Yang. Beijing: People’s Literature Publishing House, 2009. ISBN：9787020075829.