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Maarten ’t Hart

Maarten ’t Hart (b. 1944) made his debut under the name Martin Hart with the novel Stenen voor een ransuil (Stones for a Long-Eared Owl, 1971). He studied biology in Leiden and worked as an ethologist at Leiden University. One of the most important themes in his oeuvre is his childhood in a Calvinist community and his distancing himself from it. His passions for nature and music also constantly crop up in his work. ’t Hart broke through to a wide audience with his melancholy novel about meeting his teenage love: Een vlucht regenwulpen (A Flight of Curlews, 1978). Many novels, short-story and essay collections later, ’t Hart, with his authentic tone and work which often touches upon the tension between biography and fiction, has grown to be one of the most popular and most translated of Dutch authors. In an interview he said: ‘What I like about literature is that one can show a compressed piece of one’s most intimate self.’ Some of his other novels are Het woeden der gehele wereld (The Fury of the Whole World, 1993), a Bildungsroman and a thriller in one, De zonnewijzer (The Sundial, 2002), Lotte Weeda (2004) and Het psalmenoproer (Psalms and Riots, 2006), a historical novel.

Een vlucht regenwulpen

Een vlucht regenwulpen

(De Arbeiderspers, 1978)

The film of Maarten ’t Hart’s most famous novel starred Jeroen Krabbé as Maarten, the shy, awkward biology professor. Maarten grows up, as did ’t Hart, in an austere Calvinist environment. His father represents a threat to the mute intimacy between him and his mother. Maarten’s exceptional intelligence exacerbates his isolation at school and he feels safe only when viewing the world from a distance.

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De Zonnewijzer

De Zonnewijzer

(De Arbeiderspers, 2002, 240 pagina's)

Maarten ’t Hart’s new novel The Sundial, is engrossing. It opens with the central character, Leonie Kuyper, attending the funeral of her best friend Roos Berczy, who has died of sunstroke. Leonie has always felt somewhat overshadowed by Roos. Although both were good-looking, Roos was far more striking than Leonie and a brilliant pharmacological research assistant to boot. Roos turns out to have made Leonie her sole heir, provided that she moves into Roos’ apartment and cares for her cats. Naturally she is eager to fulfill her best friend’s last wishes. Leonie, an impoverished translator, becomes the owner of a beautiful apartment, a large portfolio of common stocks, and an expensive…

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Lotte Weeda

Lotte Weeda

(De Arbeiderspers, 2004, 270 pagina's)

‘Delusion is all that is given to us’ is the maxim Maarten ’t Hart gives Xenophanes in his new novel, and the villagers that ’t Hart creates in his sardonic Lotte Weeda do indeed become delusional. A woman photographer is chosen to make portraits of the two hundred most important inhabitants of the town of Monward (anagram of Warmond, where the writer lives) for a book of photographs. The narrator, a biologist and best-selling author of a book on sex called De roekeloze buiteling (‘The Reckless Tumble’), is under her spell from the moment they meet: ‘the Creator uncharacteristically outdid himself’. But he admires her work too: ‘She seemed to be trying to get to the true…

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Het psalmenoproer

Het psalmenoproer

(De Arbeiderspers, 2006, 288 pagina's)

For years Maarten ’t Hart has been planning to write a historical novel (what he calls a documentary novel) about his birthplace Maassluis. Het psalmenoproer (Psalms and Riots) is that novel. At the macro-level the book deals with the eighteenth-century struggle between supporters and opponents of a new, faster way of singing psalms, a symptom of the conflict between Protestant factions.

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Verlovingstijd

Verlovingstijd

(De Arbeiderspers, 2009, 303 pagina's)

Maarten ’t Hart, one of the best loved and most popular authors in the Low Countries, wrote Verlovingstijd (Betrothal) to cheer himself up when confined to his bed after a fall from his bicycle. The story is about the friendship between the narrator – a character familiar to those who know ’t Hart’s works – and Joerie, his childhood best friend.

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