Author

F. Springer

F. Springer (1932 - 2011), one of the best-loved narrators in Dutch literature, is the pseudonym of Carel Jan Schneider. As a diplomat and administrator for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Schneider travelled all over the world. All his postings – New Guinea, New York, Bangkok, Brussels, Dhaka, Luanda and Tehran - feature as backdrops to his stories. The novels and short story collections Tabee New York (Goodbye New York, 1974) and Zaken overzee (Overseas Business, 1974) brought him recognition from reviewers, but it was with the novel Bougainville (Bougainville, 1981) a well-constructed, moving book, that he reached a larger readership. In it, a diplomat is confronted with the death of an old friend. Quissama (1985, about the independent Angola) and Teheran, een zwanenzang (Teheran, A Swan Song, 1991), about the fundamentalist revolution in Iran, take place in turbulent surroundings. What remains is his laconic style, reminiscent of the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald, but always with the ironic perspective of a tragic subject matter. Schneider’s final post was East Berlin, where he was the Dutch ambassador from 1985 to 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell. F. Springer’s latest novel Quadriga, een eindspel (Quadriga, An End-Game, 2010) is set against the background of the biggest political revolution in the modern history of Europe.

Bougainville

Bougainville

(Querido, 1981, 149 pages)

F. Springer was a diplomat who travelled the world. Several remarkable episodes from his time spent ‘living out of a suitcase’ are reflected in the lives of his characters. Like the worldly Stendhal, he takes a light and humorous approach. Although Springer favours stories that have a strong plot, these are not heroic dramas. Indeed quite a few machos and braggarts meet with prosaic deaths. In Bougainville Tommie Vaulent, for all his bravado, drowns in the sea. Bo, also a diplomat, receives a parcel of papers from Tommie’s widow. As well as a notebook belonging to Tommie’s grandfather, containing recollections of meetings with Multatuli and Mata Hari, there are personal notes made…

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Tehran: A Swan Song

Tehran: A Swan Song

(Querido, 1991, 376 pages)

One of the most international of Dutch authors – earning comparison to Graham Greene for both his international settings and the clarity of his style – Springer has a cool eye for his characters’ weaknesses. A typical Springer novel presents these failings with humour and mild irony, using a major political upheaval as a setting.

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Bandoeng-Bandung

(Querido, 1993, 146 pages)

In the work of the writer Springer it is possible to trace the diplomat Schneider’s postings. New Guinea, New York, Bangladesh and Tehran are discussed in stories and novels. Perhaps it is therefore not so remarkable that, now that Schneider has left the diplomatic service and has the peace and quiet to appraise his life, the writer Springer should have a main character return to the (Dutch) East Indies of his youth.

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Kandy

(Querido, 1998, 158 pages)

F. Springer is a born writer who has had the advantage of having spent his entire working life as a diplomat. His books’ settings reflect his postings and range from New York to New Guinea, from inland Africa to Tehran at the time of the fall of the Shah. Recently books Springer has drawn on a more distant but no less exotic past: his childhood in the Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia), his internment in a Japanese camp, and his repatriation against the backdrop of Asia’s post-war independence struggle.

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Collected Works

(Querido, 2001, 1116 pages)

F. Springer, pseudonym for Carel Jan Schneider, was an administrative officer and diplomat who travelled the world in the service of the Dutch State. He lived and worked in New Guinea, New York, Bangkok, Brussels, Dhaka, Luanda and Teheran, all of which have served as locations for the novels and stories which he has published since his debut, Bericht uit Hollandia (Message from Hollandia) in 1962.

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Quadriga, An End-Game

Quadriga, An End-Game

(Querido, 2010, 186 pages)

The subtitle of F. Springer’s new novel Quadriga strikes a sensitive note with his readers, ‘end-game’ refers not only to the extraordinarily thrilling backdrop of the tragic story of travel writer Robert Somers – the last days of the GDR before the fall of the Berlin Wall – but also has undeniably melancholy connotations with regard to the author himself: this may well be his last novel.

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