When René Maran's novel Batouala was awarded the 1921 Prix Goncourt, it was propelled center stage of a mostly political, ideological, and to a lesser degree literary scene. The swell of criticism was directed primarily at what was perceived as anticolonialist and anti-French propaganda. In fact, more than the novel itself, it was its framing paratext—the subtitle "véritable roman nègre"—as well as Maran's incendiary preface that sparked furor both in France and internationally. In this essay, I will present an overview of Batouala's editorial (paratextual) and journalistic reception in France, Germany, and the United States in order to contrast these with a detailed analysis of the editorial and journalistic reception of Maran's text in the Netherlands and its largest colony, the Dutch East Indies. My aim is to illustrate how certain similarities and differences between source and target cultures of a literary work (in translation) that crosses cultural and linguistic boundaries are exploited in order to reinforce the construction of cultural identities and domestic subjectivities. Batouala's paratextual presentation and reception in the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies reveal specifically Dutch idiosyncrasies, both on a cultural/literary and an ideological level. Conceptual underpinnings in this essay include references to Bourdieu's sociological approach, Watts's study of the paratext, Venuti's translation theory, as well as Jauss's reception theory.


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pp. 219-237
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