Book

Margriet de Moor

Duke of Egypt

Margriet Moor’s has become a literary presence since the national and international success of Eerst grijs dan wit dan blauw. Moreover, the subject of Hertog van Egypte is one whose importance transcends national boundaries. It tells the story of the gypsies, the eternally wandering people, living in caravans ‘through the centre of which run the coordinates of the whole of Europe’.

The moustachioed horse dealer Joseph Plato is one of them, born in the Second World War and married to the red-haired Lucie, a farmer’s daughter from Twente. Every spring Joseph climbs into his flashy car and sets off by himself to visit his relatives scattered across Europe, before returning to his wife and his horse-breeding.

Once again Margriet de Moor has set herself the task of capturing an apparently impossible theme in literature. Previously she had looked inside the head of an autistic boy (Eerst grijs dan wit dan blauw) and evoked the song of an Italian castrato singer from the bel canto period (De virtuoos, published in English as The Virtuoso). Now she records the history of an oral, nomadic culture which itself never keeps a permanent record. All these projects are investigations of the irrational and sometimes unknowable aspects of other people and ourselves. The marriage of Joseph and Lucie has blank spots and mysteries, which are even more striking in the book since De Moor has opted for an anonymous, omniscient guardian angel (or a number of them) as her narrative voice.

In shimmeringly melodic prose De Moor sketches the story of Plato and his forefathers, and makes the familiar and depressing history of centuries of rejection and condemnation tangible with her compelling technique. Adultery and illness throw a spanner in the works of the marriage of the gypsy and the farmer’s daughter. ‘Tausend Dinge möcht’ ich dir noch sagen’, sings Zarah Leander on the car radio, as Lucie takes her husband to hospital, where he will be admitted for an operation. What cannot be said, must be sung. Or written.

A novel of artistic distinction and moral power, qualities, well served by a translation which is buoyant and varied in idiom

Times Literary Supplement

From the internationally acclaimed Dutch author, a richly imagined, subtly constructed exploration of an unusual fictional subject: Europe’s gypsy populations and their adversarial relationships with settled societies… It’s a resonant, bittersweet history of romance and adventure, elaborate confidence games and other strategies for survival and the continuing threats of persecution and imprisonment. Once again, de Moor offers an enchantingly orginal novel. She’s getting better with every book.

Kirkus Review (starred)

Margriet de Moor had already shown her lively sense of style and rhythm, for instance in her previous novel De virtuoos, but the strength of her new novel Hertog van Egypte is that she is able to combine that liveliness with tragedy and

Carel Peeters, Vrij Nederland

Hertog van Egypte is a brilliant novel, full of stories and full of a love which exists by virtue of the very fact that the lovers are strangers to each other. The alien, the other, the opposite attracts and provides the rich story line of this n

T. van Deel, Trouw

Translations

Margriet de Moor

Margriet de Moor (b. 1941) is one of Holland’s most prominent writers. She started her writing career in 1988 with a collection of stories, Op de rug gezien (Seen From Behind). A year later, Dubbelportret (Double Portrait) appeared, three novellas in one volume. De Moor’s highly praised…

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Details

Hertog van Egypte (1996). Fiction, 288 pages.
Copies sold: 37,000

Publisher

Querido

Spui 10
NL - 1012 WZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 760 72 10

E-mail:
j.spooren@singeluitgeverijen.…
Website:
http://www.querido.nl

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