Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Ten Thousand Things” as Want to Read:
The Ten Thousand Things
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Ten Thousand Things

3.8  ·  Rating details ·  790 Ratings  ·  160 Reviews
The central place of the novel is a spice garden on one of the islands of the East Indies. The central character is Felicia, who was taken away from the spice garden as a child to wander the fashionable resorts of Europe, and who. after many years, returns to the island with her young son. This is her story and the story of the people who touch her life: the colonials of t ...more
Published July 1967 by Ballantine Books (first published 1955)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Kris
Dec 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Chances are you haven’t heard of Maria Dermoût before, especially if you don’t read Dutch. She left behind a small body of work -- two novels, both published when she was in her 60s, and five short story collections. It appears that throughout most of her life, writing was something she engaged in for herself, perhaps a way to maintain a sense of stability in a life full of motion. It is fortunate for us that she finally published her work, as her writing is atmospheric, mysterious, balanced pre ...more
Kalliope




Stories often begin in a garden. Gardens for the origin of our species; gardens for the childhood of our lives; or a garden to which one’s soul is bound. The garden of the Ten Thousand Things however, is not like Eden, for together with the beguiling casuarina trees of the singing branches and the long dropping needles, there are ghosts.

This is the first of the two novels written by Maria Dermoût (1888-1962). She was a Dutch woman who was born and raised in the Eastern colonies of her country, i
...more
Carol

Suddenly there was an almost tangible silence.
Only the sound of the surf on the coast, the steady murmur of the ocean far out, and the wind, in gusts.
The two men let out the sounding line over the edge of the proa.
The Binongko stood up (the guards let him), he spoke some words--repeated the same ones, it seemed--no one understood him except the one police guard but he paid no attention. Nobody paid attention.
Nobody listened--but they all looked at him.
The two under the roof, the rowers on each s
...more
Garima

Slowly they had become the only ones left from the past, the only ones who knew everything, had gone through everything.

A happy coincidence greeted me when I finished reading the first part of this book, The Island. The atmosphere it portrayed was redolent of the mystifying air surrounding the narrative of Pedro Páramo and after a quick search it turned out that both of these works were first published in 1955. Apart from the thematic similarities and soulful writing, it’s the panorama of a sce
...more
Aubrey
The trouble began with words, really.

No longer was something a thing in essence. For neither world nor time has the patience for lists of reinvention, a praxis on praxis where the slightest shift required a churning and blooming of sui generis for that one birth, that one core. World and time, so long as human muddies up the lines in hasty life and mortal unease, needs condense.

But also stretch, for both world and time are vast unknowns dripping with fragrant allurements for the passing human,
...more
Sue
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Asma
Wonderful, magical book, unlike anything I've read before. Set in Indonesia; peopled by Dutch and Indonesian, the living and the dead; following a narrative path of its own through the physical world, the natural world, the spiritual world to tell such stories...difficult to describe as they are truly singular. This book must be experienced.

I envisioned writing a longer review but at the moment inspiration is lacking and I will leave it here. This is highly recommended to all who are not intimid
...more
Jimmy
Aug 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a mess, but it is a beautiful mess. I feel the book but I don't know what it is saying exactly. That is the best kind. The structure is unconventional; reading it, I had no idea how to read it, which is a nice feeling: it is the feeling of reading the very first novel. And then there are the things from the title, the imbued significance (though, thankfully, not symbolism) of things, the aura and magic, the legends and rumors, the history and narrative: the things that compose a life. And ...more
Hadrian
The Ten Thousand Things is a slow atmospheric story which rewards patience and a slow lingering over the sparse detail. It is a story less of things that are now, but of things which have long ago passed away.
Friederike Knabe
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: asia
The "Small Garden" at the Inner Bay, a picturesque place where the views, the smells, sounds and colours, "held her, slowly enveloped her, showed her things, whispered her its secrets..." It is a place where time can stand still, where past and present and future, perhaps?, can fuse into one unifying image. The "lady of the Small Garden" likes to wander along its paths, or resting somewhere in the shade, letting her mind go back in time, remembering those before her who lived here and those who ...more
Roger Brunyate
A Vigil for All the Murdered
She knew that a bay and rocks and trees bending over the surf cannot relieve sadness—can sadness be relieved, or can one only pass it by, very slowly?
In my reading over the past decade, I have really come to trust the reissues of the New York Review of Books—works of fiction, predominantly foreign, that have undeservedly slipped out of circulation. They do for older literature what the Europa Press does for contemporary: open the reader's eyes to a wide range of geo
...more
Dioni (Bookie Mee)
First published at http://www.meexia.com/bookie/2016/01/...

In The Ten Thousand Things Maria Dermoût brought us to my birth country, Indonesia. This is the first time for me to read a Dutch Indies literature so it was truly an interesting experience. I had to look up Moluccas - the place where the book is set, and only then realized it's the islands of Maluku. In fact, I only recently discovered that pre-independent Indonesia is called Dutch East Indies. Just things you wouldn't learn in school's
...more
Bucket
This is a tiny little book and it's a bit of a muddle of beauty and strangeness. There's a lot to love, and most of what's here works. It's not a new favorite for me, but I'm glad to have read it.

Dermout's finest gift is her description. Her language is very visual and every part of this novel is easy to picture - from the various island locations, to the characters' appearances and mannerisms, to the events that take place. The most immersive moments that I found myself deep inside of were: wh
...more
Jan Priddy
I tried very hard to love this book, but I simply don't. I kept waiting for characters to care about, the much lauded magic and description to draw me in, some sort of coherent story. I couldn't find it. It may be the fault of my reading and perhaps another time… but I think this novel just didn't work for me. Where was the "shimmering strangeness" I was promised? There are far more powerful examples of magic realism, a style I do enjoy.

Too much was missing: coherence, of course; characters I
...more
Laura Leaney
Apr 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book of the year. Mostly set on one of the islands in the Maluccas, or Spice Islands, in a place called the Small Garden (not so small!) the ancient matriarch (not so old!) of a Dutch family lives alone with the most lovely things: antique cabinets full of special shells, gold pins, a "little cat's-eye for dreams" a "gold apple, carved out in fretwork, with a ball of amber inside which she had made herself," spices, and curiosities like the "snake with the carbuncle stone." H ...more
Asma
May 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Asma by: Friederike Knabe
This is a series of related stories, set on the island of Ambon (Spice Islands, Indonesia, at the time of Dutch East India). The main character Felicia has similarities with the author Maria Dermoût. That connection is visible in the murdered son Himpies. And there are several murdered people in the stories of the book. As in Tao, all things are related in the universe. The Small Garden of the setting, which goes back to at least Felicia's Grandmother in the story is in Inner Bay. It's a natural ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The publisher description probably says it best:

The Ten Thousand Things is a novel of shimmering strangeness—the story of Felicia, who returns with her baby son from Holland to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, to the house and garden that were her birthplace, over which her powerful grandmother still presides. There Felicia finds herself wedded to an uncanny and dangerous world, full of mystery and violence, where objects tell tales, the dead come and go, and the past is as potent as the present
...more
Calzean
Quite a beautifully sad book. Written in her 60s, Dermout is no doubt relaying herself through Felicia who returns to the small island of her birth in the Moluccas during the early 20th century.

There is great love of the land, sea and people in this story as Felicia learns and then teaches her son the ten thousand things that go to make up their island. But the sadness it through who trying to make sense of the various murders past and current that have occurred and what is meant to the people w
...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is a strange little novel that very nearly has a plot. I had to reach the final page before I figured out that the entire book is a study of loss. It takes place in the Moluccas (Spice Islands) near the end of Dutch colonial rule. Much of what happens parallels the author's life, and the book almost feels like a cathartic exercise rather than a novel. It's slow going, relying almost entirely on expository narration, but the author's powers of description are impressive.
Missy J
description
Ambon, Maluku, Indonesia

A very peculiar story.

First a little background on the author: Maria Dermout was born in 1888 in a small town in Java (Dutch East Indies, which now is Indonesia). Dermout returned to the Netherlands for her education and after getting married, she and her husband moved back to the Dutch East Indies and lived all across Java and the Moluccas (now Maluku).

Above you can see the picture of Ambon, where most of the story of "The Ten Thousand Things" is believed to have taken
...more
Nick
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult to believe that “The Ten Thousand Things”, written languorously and set in a place that defines faraway, once occupied the Best Seller List alongside “Dr. Zhivago” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Rather than Pasternak and Capote, the writer who “The Ten Thousand Things” evokes most is the Faulkner of “Absalom, Absalom”, with its decaying families in decrepit mansions, its characters who destroy themselves at the intersection of ambition and illusion. In lieu of Thomas Sutpen fleein ...more
Giovanna
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lovely book, that I think will stay with me always. The book does so much in not very many pages. There are plenty of interesting characters, well drawn with few strokes. And the natural world is so beautifully described, and such a presence. It's a character on its own. So much atmosphere, so many moments perfectly captured. I was happy to find Rumphius' The Ambonese Curiosity Cabinet in my library. Well worth checking out if you read this book, for then you can find pictures of the Amoret ...more
Mónica Mar
Nov 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
«Y alguna que otra vez, muy pocas, el antiguo lamento pagano por alguien que acababa de morir. Este lamento se titulaba "Las cien cosas", ya que son un centenar las cosas que debemos recordarle al muerto, que debemos preguntarle.»

Cien cosas son más fáciles de enumerar que diez mil. Seres queridos, posesiones terrenales; pueden contarse en decenas o en veintenas. Pero también están aquellas cosas que hacen parte de un lugar, de la historia: el mar, el viento, los jardines; los peces y las conchas
...more
Meagan Tunink
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Ten Thousand Things is a sad, strange fairy tale. It tells the story of The Lady of the Small Garden, who lives on an island that grows spices and takes care of her family's garden. The Small Garden is a misnomer, her home is actually a huge garden including all kinds of animals and plants, as well the ruins of a house that can never be re-built. All of the characters in this book reach a sort of mythical status as their stories are retold by the people on the island. This isn't a page turne ...more
Patricia
Many pages stood up to, and demanded, a slow, savoring reading. The opening pages, the end of Suprato's story, and parts of the conclusion were especially wonderful. Dermout can offer a precise and loving image of plants, shells, and jellyfish; evoke ghosts that are almost but not quite visible; and suggest depths of feeling with an understatement. However, parts of the novel were less engaging, more vague and romanticized.
Ce Ce
Nov 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ethereal. Poetic. Beautifully rendered lament of loss that celebrates life.
Anna
Jul 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: be included in the canon.
I can't believe how overlooked this book is. Simply captivating.
Hella
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fictie
Omdat Oek de Jong in Het Visioen aan de Binnenbaai zo hoog opgaf van Maria Dermoût, heb ik meteen haar Verzameld Werk aangeschaft, en als eerste De Tienduizend Dingen gelezen, waar de titel van de bundel van De Jong op gebaseerd is.
Ik vind online een bespreking van het boek die een goed beeld geeft van de inhoud. Het is een dromerige, poëtische geschiedenis, waarin realiteit en visioen, heden en verleden, door elkaar lopen. Het is geen verhaal dat je leest om de plot, het is een sfeer waarin je
...more
Randolph Carter
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, owned
A sad, sad novel of linked stories set in the Dutch colonial Spice Islands.
Melinda
Feb 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
The Ten Thousand Things by Maria Dermo��t is a story of love and loss told in magical realism. Dermo��t's style takes you on a color palette describing the exotic island landscape of Moluccas, Indonesia with respect paid to environment, culture and traditions.

Felicia is a women unable to acknowledge her profound loss. Try has she might Felicity can't pull herself from the dark recesses of grief. The reader rides along with Felicity as she experiences a tug of war with pain, loss, love, accept
...more
Mindy McAdams
Remarkable, quiet, atmospheric, mysterious. I felt great anticipation when I bought this book -- its title referring to the Tao Te Ching. I felt let down as I began reading it, finding it (initially) too scattered, too vague, like tufts of something drifting in the air at twilight. And then I let go and went with it.

Each time I was reading in this book, I felt transported to another place, in the way of many good books. In this case, though, I could not now really describe the place I went to, e
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • A Summer Bird-Cage
  • Mr. Fortune's Maggot; and, The Salutation
  • Amsterdam Stories
  • Wish Her Safe at Home
  • The Outward Room
  • Sunflower
  • Niki: The Story of a Dog
  • In Love
  • Rock Crystal
  • The Book of Ebenezer Le Page
  • The Pumpkin Eater
  • The Radiance of the King
  • The Vet's Daughter
  • The Dream of a Common Language
  • Mouchette
  • White Walls: Collected Stories
  • Sleepless Nights
  • Turtle Diary
4970672
Helena Anthonia Maria Elisabeth Dermoût-Ingerman was born in Pekalongan, Java, Indonesia, on 15 June 1888 and died in the Hague, the Netherlands, on 27 June 1962. She was a Dutch-Indonesian author.
More about Maria Dermoût...
“Felicia had never seen such beads before, neither of glass nor of metal, not of jade either, she thought; of stone or baked clay, rather, opaque, in mysteriously tender and quenched colors: orange ocher, golden brown, some touched with black; so subdued of hue - melancholy almost, as if there was something of autumn in that little box woven from leaves, something of passing and dying.” 2 likes
More quotes…