In 1629, the ship Batavia , pride of the Dutch East India Company, was wrecked on the edge of a coral archipelago, some fifty miles from the western coast of the Australian continent. Most of the people on board - nearly three hundred men, women and children - escaped from drowning, only to become victims of a visionary psychopath who, with the help of a dozen followers, organised a methodical massacre of this hapless community.
Acclaimed sinologist and author Simon Leys travelled to the site of the disaster and learned that, paradoxically, the natural environment of these islands could have afforded the survivors fairly decent living conditions; the massacre therefore appears all the more aberrant.
In fact, in its gratuitous absurdity, it seems to present a microcosm of the totalitarian atrocities that are perpetrated by various ideologies seeking to establish Paradise on earth.
About the Author
Simon Leys is a writer, sinologist, essayist, literary critic and author of The Hall of Uselessness, Other People’s Thoughts, The Death of Napoleon, The Wreck of the Batavia & Prosper. Leys studied law at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Louvain), Chinese language, literature and art in Taiwan. He went to Hong Kong, before settling down in Australia in 1970. He taught Chinese literature at the Australian National University, where he supervised the honours thesis of former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, and later was Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Sydney, from 1987 to 1993. In 2004 he was awarded the Prix mondial Cino Del Duca.
For Ages: 15+ years old
Number Of Pages: 113
Published: 1st November 2005
Dimensions (cm): 19.500 x 13.500 x 1.700
Weight (kg): 0.291