The Newsletter 65 Autumn 2013

Capturing time and place

Dick van der Meij

Reviewed publication: Montague, J.G. 2010. Picture Postcards of Cambodia 1900-1950. Bangkok: White Lotus, ISBN: 9789744801197

One of the most diffi cult things to achieve by simply reading is to get an accurate picture of the time and place we read about, especially if the time and place are far removed from us. I remember that my fi rst reading of an Indonesian novel let me to picture a Jakarta in my mind that could not have been more different than this vibrant Indonesian city. Like most recipients of the picture postcards discussed in this book, I too had never been to Southeast Asia and had no idea what to make of what I read. I was only able to get a more accurate idea of Jakarta when I fi rst went there. For many in the past, and still at present, their fi rst introduction to far off places was and is by means of picture postcards. The cards convey, or try to convey what travelers and expatriates experienced on their journeys and of the places where they sojourned. Even now with all the images readily available on the internet, we still tend to send pictures home because they capture what we really saw in a much more private and immediate way than any website can do.

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