This essay reads Wilfrido Nolledo’s novel, But for the Lovers (1970), across the rocky terrain in which the postcolonial Anglophone novel intersects with the question of postmodernity. Using Paul Ricoeur’s Memory, History, and Forgetting and Fredric Jameson’s exhortation to the critic to “Always historicize!” as my primary theoretical frameworks, I argue against the seemingly common accusation that the “postmodern” Anglophone Filipino novel––of which But for the Lovers is a kind of prototypical example––is incapable of creating a perspective on the political and historical conditions of the Philippines as a postcolonial nation and that it is merely symptomatic of the much larger political, social, and cultural malaise characteristic of the current political economic and cultural moment. My argument is that But for the Lovers forces the critic to resituate her perspective on the problems of Philippine nationalism by linking it to the question of the novel’s style: only by doing so can the way that history and fiction narrate and produce knowledge about the past be interrogated. Ultimately, I argue that But for the Lovers demonstrates that the ultimate horizon for any reading of Anglophone Philippine fiction is not just history, but the unassailable historical condition of US imperialism in the Philippines. The novel’s apocalyptic finale, I suggest, dramatizes the large-scale violence and genocide that founds, as historian Dylan Rodriguez argues, the moment of US-Philippine “contact” in the early twentieth century, and in this way conditions the very possibility of a Filipino literature in English.


Filipino Novels in English, Postmodernity, Postcoloniality, Genocide, Historiography, World War II, Manifest Destiny, Philippine American War, Filipino Novels in English

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By

Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)