A passionate discussion of the history of oppositional writing in the Philippines
The Philippine Temptation
Dialectics of Philippines-U.S. Literary Relations
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E. San Juan, Jr.
Outstanding Academic Book, Choice, 1996
In this incisive and polemical book, E. San Juan, Jr., the leading authority on Philippines-U.S. literary studies, goes beyond fashionable postcolonial theory to bring to our attention the complex history of Philippines-U.S. literary interactions. In sharp contrast to other works on the subject, the author presents Filipino literary production within the context of a long and sustained tradition of anti-imperialist insurgency, and foregrounds the strong presence of oppositional writing in the Philippines.
After establishing the historical context of U.S. intervention and Filipino resistance, San Juan examines the work of two very significant writers. The first, Carlos Bulosan, a journalist and union activist, became in the author's words a "tribune" of the people. Bulosan's writings which combine critique and prophecy do not allow us to forget the atrocities inflicted on the Filipino people. The other, José Garcia Villa, lapsed into premature obscurity on account of the complexity of his writings about the Filipino predicament. Read through San Juan's eyes, these writers are revealed as multifaceted thinkers and activists, not stereotypical ethnic artists.
San Juan goes beyond literary studies and contemporary debates about nationalism and politics to point the way to a new direction in radical transformative writing. He uncovers hidden agendas in many previous accounts of U.S.-Philippine relations, and this book exemplifies how best to combine activist scholarship with historically grounded cultural commentary.
"San Juan is a scholar of remarkable range and varied talents...remarkable for his commitment to literature and culture as vital areas of contemporary social life."
"San Juan's study is a tour de force of an extraordinary and comprehensive nature. His transdisciplinary approach is on the frontier of a new intellectual discourse, on the cutting edge of Third World scholarship."
"E. San Juan, Jr. is undoubtedly the leading authority on Filipino-American literary relations.... [He] deftly contextualizes literary forms and expressions within their historical and social matrix. In the growing field of multi-cultural studies, San Juan's contribution is quite uniquean immensely valuable contribution to U.S.-Filipino cultural history and comparative literature studies."
"San Juan is one of the most authoritative practitioners of Third World culture writing in the United States today. His work charts in detail the vast and difficult terrain he has covered...."
"It is exciting to see a work so focused, not on abstract theory for abstract purposes, but on the now.... For readers interested in Filipino writing, The Philippine Temptation is, as San Juan intended, an excellent place to start."
"The Philippine Temptation offers much valuable information and intelligent insights into what some of the forces, tensions and energies werearethat have influenced the intelligentsia of the Philippines, especially the Filipino writer of English."
In the series
Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Vő.
The "standard" written histories of Asian immigrants to the United States have been imbued with Western cultural biases. As a critique and corrective to earlier work, Asian American History and Culture, edited by Sucheng Chan, David Palumbo-Liu, Michael Omi, K. Scott Wong, and Linda Trinh Vő, aims to develop a history of Asian Americans that is compatible with their own experience, that treats Asian Americans as agents of historical change and as creators of a new culture. In addition, this series intends to focus on the groups that are flourishing in the contemporary U.S.Filipinos, Koreans, Vietnameseabout whom little has been written as well as to add to the substantial work done on the Chinese and Japanese in this country.