A multi-layered plot-driven story about evil and fate
Tim Krabbé is the author of the both as a novel and a film internationally successful The Vanishing. It was after all so much more than an exciting story with a brilliant plot: it could be understood on various levels, as an exceptional thriller or as a philosophical story about the banality of evil and the impossibility of love. The same is true for his novel De grot (The Cave) in which an exciting intrigue about drug smuggling in an unspecified Asian country is intertwined with a story about friendship and love.
As a boy Egon visits a cave that determines the rest of his life. The excursion provides him with a lifelong fascination for stones, a subconscious longing for Marjoke (with whom he met in the cave) and his friendship with Axel. Whereas Egon is to become a geologist, Axel is a criminal and a show-off. Their friendship is a continuous power struggle that will prove fatal for Egon.
As Egon loses the struggle with Axel he wins back Marjoke. As in The Vanishing, the lovers’ reunion is fatal, which is not necessarily an unhappy ending. The novel is woven around Krabbé’s favourite theme: the difficulty of realising love, a feat that may only be possible in an imaginary world. Or, as the cave itself had revealed to the young Egon and Marjoke: ‘A little cone on the roof, a baby column on the floor. How many thousands, hundreds of thousands of years will it take before they reach each other and form one column?’