Wilhelm Tell in Manila by Anette Hug – A Novel About Jose Rizal

A good book has always been a good source of entertainment to many avid readers. Here is a book from Anette Hug that Filipinos ought to read. It is a book about the Philippines ‘ national hero, Jose Rizal, and his stay in Germany.

More about Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal is among the families of Illustrados during the Spanish Regime in the Philippines. He was well known for his writings Noli Me Tangere and El Felibusterismo. His writings inspired many of the Filipino people. Particularly the revolutionary group led by Andres Bonifacio. The revolutionary group eventually started the revolution that led to the Filipino people gaining freedom from Spanish colonialism. Read a summary of his well-known classic novel, Noli me Tangere from “Buod ng lahat ng kabanata ng Noli Me Tangere”.

About Wilhelm Tell in Manila, the Novel

José Rizal came to Germany in 1886 as a young ophthalmologist and novelist. It is not yet foreseeable that he will one day become a national hero of the Philippines. The archipelago on the edge of the Pacific is a colony of the Spanish Empire. The colonial rulers only allow education within the narrow limits of Jesuit monastic schools. And only the Spanish language is considered a culture.

Because Rizal came out with liberal ideas in Madrid, his brother warns against returning to Manila. He recommends secure existence in Germany. But he could do something for his people: in Heidelberg and Leipzig, Rizal translated Friedrich Schiller’s “Wilhelm Tell” into his native language, Tagalog. The landscape shifts: the Alps rise on a tropical island. In protest against Gessler’s misdeeds, against the intrigues of the Catholic Church, these mountains will erupt as volcanoes. On the Vierwaldstättermeer native farmers fight against foreign bailiffs, against work in slavery.

Rizal’s stay in Germany becomes a journey of translation. The further training in ophthalmology at the Heidelberg clinic, his encounters with student fraternities or bar girls, his conversations with philologists in Berlin or a pastor in the Odenwald – all this new and foreign is compared with home. Words must be found in Tagalog, or analogies formed when things cannot be transplanted from one place to another. Translation becomes a work of hope that the uprising against the colonial masters will come and the discovery of the fear that violence will destroy all order.

The historical José Rizal returns home. The uprising takes place. Rizal was convicted and executed in Manila in 1896 for inciting rebellion and treason.

The novel interweaves Rizal’s travels, his encounters in Madrid, Paris, Heidelberg, Leipzig and his memories of his homeland in the Philippines with the story of the Swiss freedom hero Tell, in Schiller’s version and in Rizal’s version. Poetry and document become fluid from language to language, a flood.

About Anette Hug, the author

Annette Hug, born in Switzerland in 1970, studied history and women and development studies in Zurich and Manila. After working as a lecturer and union secretary, she now lives in Zurich as a freelance author. William Tell in Manila is her third novel.