The Dutch poet Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898–1936) featured Manila in three poems written in the late 1920s. These poems present the city as the decaying remnant of a deceased empire. Manila appears as a memory site of Spain’s bygone world dominance, resonates with the discourse of the “decline of the West,” and bears parallels to an image of a decaying Dutch empire. The city functions as a screen against which cultural images derived from the author’s personal European context are projected: cultural pessimism and colonial decline.

Keywords: Slauerhoff • cultural pessimism • culture and imperialism • Manila literature • poetry

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