J. Bernlef


Fascinating examination of the nature of perception

Eclipse is a fascinating examination of the nature of perception by one of the Netherlands’ foremost writers. If Bernlef’s earlier and famous novel Out of Mind described a decline into dementia and the loss of language that accompanies it, this book is its mirror image. It starts with an accident that leaves Kees Zomer’s body and speech incapacitated and traces their gradual return to at least a semblance of normality.

Kees Zomer crashes his car and ends up underwater. He survives the accident but notices that something has come undone in his head. He can still think coherently, but the language he speaks is confused, beyond his control, and his perception is damaged in such away that he has lost all five senses on the left side of his body.

In his ten-day absence Zomer experiences how strange your surroundings, memories, and impressions can appear when the world inside your head is slightly distorted. The calm everyday world becomes extraordinary and puzzling when language no longer serves as a way of making contact.

As Zomer’s senses gradually return, the world starts to seem like a parallel universe, an experience he describes as thawing.

As an example of imaginative writing Bernlef’s book is hard to fault. It is creepy and claustrophobic, painful and farcical by turns.

Sunday Times


J. Bernlef

Bernlef (1937-2012), who debuted in 1960, has produced an extensive body of work including poems, short stories, novels and essays. He translated the Scandinavian poets Lars Gustafson and Tomas Tranströmer into Dutch and was editor of the literary periodicals Barbarber and Raster. The best known…

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Eclips (1993). Fiction, 166 pages.
Words: 420,000



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