Author

Harry Mulisch

Harry Mulisch (1927-2010) was born on July 29, 1927 in Haarlem to a Jewish mother and a half-German, half-Austrian father. After his parents divorced in 1937, he was raised by his father’s German housekeeper. The father was joint director of a banking firm which was a repository for stolen Jewish funds. ‘I didn’t so much “experience? the war: I am the Second World War,’ Mulisch wrote in the autobiographical Mijn getijdenboek (My Book of Hours, 1975). Het stenen bruidsbed (The Stone Bridal Bed, 1959) is regarded as the best work from his early period. In addition to novels, Mulisch has written plays, poetry, political pieces and philosophical studies. He is one of the most illustrious authors in the Netherlands today. His work is held in high regard, as witness the numerous awards he has received, including the P.C. Hooft Prize (1977), the Constantijn Huygens Prize (1977) and the Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren, 1995). Mulisch gained international fame with De ontdekking van de hemel (The Discovery of Heaven, 1992). The American press compared him with Homer, Dante and Goethe.

Archibald Strohalm

Archibald Strohalm

(De Bezige Bij, 1951, 304 pages)

On publication of his debut novel Archibald Strohalm in 1951, Harry Mulisch was immediately recognized as a great literary talent and a new voice in post-war Dutch literature. This highly imaginative story with its bizarre characters set the tone for Mulisch’s extraordinary career as an author. He distinguished himself in the midst of the prevailing literary realism by his abstract-realist style, which clearly had the capacity to speak to an international readership.

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The Stone Bridal Bed

The Stone Bridal Bed

(De Bezige Bij, 1959, 174 pages)

Harry Mulisch is a philosophical author who does not shun the great issues of life. This is evident in his magnum opus De ontdekking van de hemel (The Discovery of Heaven, 1992), which centres on the ungodliness of the world due to progressive technology, and the disastrous consequences for humanity. Although his basic premise is pessimistic, Mulisch offers a way out: for those who perceive the world as essentially in harmony, and who prefer the freedom of art to the yoke of technology, there is still hope.

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Criminal Case 40/61

Criminal Case 40/61

Een reportage

(De Bezige Bij, 1962, 194 pages)

In her preface to Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963), Hannah Arendt tells us that the Dutch writer Harry Mulisch is one of the few to have shared her views of the character of Adolf Eichmann, the organiser of the Holocaust. In 1961, Mulisch went to Jerusalem to report on the Eichmann trial for a Dutch weekly. His articles were collected a year later and published as De zaak 40/61.

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The Assault

The Assault

(De Bezige Bij, 1982, 254 pages)

In the ‘hunger winter’ of 1945 a communist resistance-group assassinates a chief inspector of police, Mr. Fake Ploeg. The body is found in front of the Steenwijk family’s house even though they had nothing to do with the murder. As an act of reprisal the parents and brother of the boy Anton are executed by the Germans. The house is burned down. Anton goes to live with the family of an aunt and uncle. Later, he studies Medicine in Amsterdam.

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Incident

Incident

(De Bezige Bij, 1989, 77 pages)

In Voorval an engineer of a skyscraper still being built says to a colleague: ‘I’m going out for a bit of fresh air’ taking the elevator to the 55th floor as he does so. A sudden gust of wind knocks him from the scaffolding. The engineer is not scared: ‘as long as you’re not dead, you’re alive’ and especially ‘he who falls, is free’.

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The Discovery of Heaven

The Discovery of Heaven

(De Bezige Bij, 1992, 901 pages)

De ontdekking van de hemel is Harry Mulisch’s magnum opus. All the paths he has taken in his previous work come together in this 900-page novel. The book has 65 chapters, one for each of Mulisch’s years at the time of the novel’s publication. Mulisch, with his hang for numerological symbolism, has given a first hint of the book’s autobiographical nature. In the two main characters, Max Delius and Onno Quist, the reader can recognise much of Mulisch and his deceased friend, the chess player, Jan Hein Donner.

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The Procedure

The Procedure

(De Bezige Bij, 1998, 304 pages)

Anyone who reads Harry Mulisch must have a penchant for deciphering codes, tracking down clues, and unravelling enigmas. In the very first paragraph the reader is warned that if he’s sitting back expecting instant entertainment, he would do better to lay the book aside. This warning will not daunt the true reader who will be rewarded, for as always Mulisch’s literary alchemy retains its fascination right to the last page. Ancient myths, historical fact, literary heroes, and biological and chemical discoveries are the components of a compelling plot; they are combined and interlinked to form a new entity, a new creation.

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Siegfried: A Black Idyll

Siegfried: A Black Idyll

(De Bezige Bij, 2000, 213 pages)

Harry Mulisch has written his best works late in life. At the age of 65 he completed De ontdekking van de hemel, the Faust-sized novel in which he intertwines all his themes with an astonishing dexterity. After discovering heaven, Mulisch found a formula that summarised and explained the universe, on which theme he wrote the novel De procedure. In Siegfried, Mulisch harks back to World War II, the period that plays a central role in his works.

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Translations

Website

http://www.mulisch.nl