12 January 2009

Rizal's third novel

Jose Rizal, the most prolific and most accomplished Filipino writer of the 19th century, wrote most of his works in Spanish, his second language. He also wrote some texts in English and German (he was a polyglot). Towards the end of his life, he started writing his third novel in Tagalog, his mother tongue. By his own account, he could not finish the novel in Tagalog and had to shift back to Spanish. There is a lesson to be learned from this, though that lesson has been repeatedly repudiated by writers such as Muhammed Haji Salleh, who wrote most of his early works in English, his second language, then returned to writing in Bahasa Melayu, his mother tongue, later in life.

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