Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Missionary and the Libertine: Love and War in East and West Paperback – August 14, 2001
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Neither puritanism nor sensuality was ever unique to East or West, yet, on the whole, it is for the latter that Westerners have looked East. There has been a sensual, even erotic, element in encounters--imaginary or real--between East and West since the ancient Greeks. The European idea of the Orient as female, voluptuous, decadent, amoral--in short, as dangerously seductive--long predates the European empires in India and Southeast Asia.Yet an unexpected reversal has upset this mode of thought. "From the official point of view of China, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan," writes Buruma, "Europe and the United States are now models not of masculine vim but, on the contrary, of decadence, libertinism, and sloth."
The best essay in The Missionary and the Libertine builds off this observation by examining Lee Kuan Yew's repressive Singapore and the "Asian values" debate. Startling anecdotes spring from the page (in this selection as well as the others), such as the employment ad Buruma shares from a Singapore daily: "Filipino. Hardworking. No day off." Buruma is more than just an observer; he's also an analyst. The very concept of "Asian values" rings untrue, he believes, because the phrase "only really makes sense in English. In Chinese, Malay, or Hindi, it would sound odd. Chinese think of themselves as Chinese, and Indians as Indians (or Tamils, or Punjabs). Asia, as a cultural concept, is an official invention to bridge vastly different ethnic populations living in former British colonies." Buruma also writes about Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto, the Philippines' Cory Aquino, V.S. Naipaul, the Seoul Olympics, the debate over the bomb in Japan, and so on. The book is a grab bag of literature and culture, and fans of Buruma will be delighted to have it all packed together in a single volume. --John J. Miller --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
As someone who lived out East I rank this up with Christopher Lingle's Singapore's Authoritarian Capitalism and Stan Sesser's The Land of Charm and Cruelty (another great essay collection on various Asian countries) as books helpful to the Westerner trying to learn about the region. Buruma's God's Dust has more essays on Asia, including S'pore. For Singapore, I also recomend Francis Seow's A Prisoner in Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, and Paul Theroux's Saint Jack (a Singapore novel set in the Seventies but (I found) remarkably up to date in the attitudes it records of both locals and expats).
I have edited this review to reduce the star rating having re read some of the essays and found Buruma's mandarin (small m) worldview a little forced at times.
In his ironic style, he unveils the lies and double-talk of political and industrial leaders. E.g. Sony's Akio Morita's statement that 'today's Japanese do not think in terms of privilege', while he almost disowned his son, when he wanted to marry a popular singer.
Other targets are Benazir Bhutto, Cory Aquino, Imelda Marcos and most of all the imperious leader of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew.
I recommend nevertheless the autobiography of Yew 'From first world to third', because it is an essential read in order to understand what's happening in China today. Lee Kuan Yew is Jiang Zeming's best friend.
Buruma is a very perceptive observer and reader. His analyses of writers like Yuhio Moshima, Mircea Eliade or Junichiro Tanizaki, or movie directors like Nagisa Oshima or Sayajit Ray are brilliant.
This book is to be put on the same high level as the works of Simon Leys on China.