Paul de Wispelaere

Paul de Wispelaere (b. 1928) was awarded the prestigious three-yearly Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren) in 1998. In the view of the jury he had stood constantly in the vanguard of innovative prose writing in Holland and Flanders since the 1960s. Besides fiction, De Wispelaere writes essays and criticism, whose nuanced vision and stylistic qualities make him one of the leading practitioners in Dutch. Well-known collections include Het Perzische tapijt (The Persian Carpet, 1966), Een Vlaming bekijkt Nederland (A Fleming’s View of Holland, 1972) and De broek van Sartre (Sartre’s Trousers, 1987). His fiction usually combines autobiography and fiction, as in the triptych of novels Tussen tuin en wereld (Between Garden and World, 1979), Mijn huis is nergens meer (My House is Nowhere Now, 1982) and Brieven uit Nergenshuizen (Letters from Nowhereville, 1987). His journal Het verkoolde alfabet (The Charred Alphabet, 1992) enjoyed great success, becoming a new high point in an oeuvre in which literature, life and love are inextricably intertwined.

En de liefste dingen nog verder

(Atlas, 1998, 230 pagina's)

On page one of En de liefste dingen nog verder, the book’s writer and main character who is approaching seventy, learns that he has leukaemia and has at most a year to live. He immediately decides to drop everything, in order to put his life on record in a new novel while there is still time. He introduces himself in the third person, but rapidly abandons this device and continues mainly in the first person. Here De Wispelaere is touching on a familiar theme of his: the interplay of fiction and reality.

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