Blocks, Growling Creatures, Bint
Futuristic modernist tales in a cool, hard-edged style
Bordewijk was associated with the New Objectivity movement because of his cold-blooded style, but the graphic imagery and magical quality of his stories consistently marked him as a great man of letters. He outdid himself with the character of headmaster Bint, who demands iron self-control and discipline from his pupils.
Contrary to its author’s intentions, Bint became notorious, reaping both praise and moral condemnation. Was Bordewijk’s tale a parable of the failure of human discipline or a plea for totalitarian education? With fascism on the rise, readers felt uncomfortable with Bint’s philosophy of submission to pain and the subjugation of the will.
Verbal artistry with a veneer of objectivity also characterized his novels of the early 1930s. Blocks is a nightmare vision of a future state in which communist ideals are pursued to the point of madness. In Growling Creatures, cosmopolitan automobiles seize power from their owners.
- Bordewijk’s style is often described as ‘reinforced concrete’.
- When speaking of himself as a writer, F. Bordewijk always used the third person.
- The film based on *Character *won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film of 1998.