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Gerard Reve

The most widely read book by Gerard Reve (1923-2006) remains his debut De Avonden (The Evenings, 1947), but the controversial, epistolary novels Op weg naar het einde (On My Way to the End, 1963) and Nader tot U (Nearer to Thee, 1966), with their frank discussion of homosexuality and the author’s conversion to Catholicism, were instrumental in establishing Gerard Reve as a public figure in the Netherlands. Over the years he published a large series of autobiographical epistolary books, and several novels: Oud en eenzaam (Old and Lonely, 1978), Moeder en Zoon (Mother and Son, 1980), Bezorgde Ouders (Parents Worry, 1989). Reve was awarded the P.C. Hooft Prize in 1968 and the Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren) in 2001.

De avonden. Een winterverhaal

De avonden. Een winterverhaal

(De Bezige Bij, 1947, 196 pagina's)

On 1 November 1947, Gerard Reve published what was to become one of the classics of Dutch literature. Set during the last ten dark days of 1946, the story revolves around Frits van Egters, a young man who lives at home with his parents, whom he finds annoying and embarrassing. He avoids them by visiting friends, whom he provokes and challenges, and by withdrawing into his bedroom, where he finds comfort with his favourite cuddly toy, a rabbit to which he devotes near-erotic attention.

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Novellen

Novellen

(De Bezige Bij, 1949)

No author from the Netherlands has influenced later generations so profoundly as Gerard Reve – the marriage of eloquence and everyday banality is central to his style of writing. Before the publication of his debut novel De Avonden, Reve wrote two impressive novellas.

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Op weg naar het einde

Op weg naar het einde

(De Bezige Bij, 1963, 188 pagina's)

In the 1960s Gerard Reve’s career entered a new phase when he discovered that the letter was his ideal literary form. It allowed him to adopt a direct, confrontational tone, combined with formal, almost solemn, syntax and vocabulary. Reve wrote openly and in great detail about his alcoholism, his homosexuality, his preoccupation with death and his adoration of God and the Virgin Mary. As the main character of his letters, he described his life with remarkable candour, contributing to his own legend in the process. In a 1998 interview he said, ‘I’m a Great Writer, but it’s not as if I’m not stuck up about it.’

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Bezorgde ouders

Bezorgde ouders

(De Bezige Bij, 1988, 319 pagina's)

The last name of the main character in Bezorgde ouders ‘Treger resembles both Reve and Egters and this is not the only similarity between his first and his latest novels. There is a similar delineation of time and action in both. Bezorgde ouders is the tragi-comic story of a single day in the life of Treger, a singer and poet from Amsterdam, who just cannot seem to produce that poem which will lead to total deliverance. His incapacity is told in exorcising mumblings where once again religion, homosexuality and the temporary easing of bouts of depression through wine play a major role.

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Het boek van violet en dood

Het boek van violet en dood

(De Bezige Bij, 1996, 253 pagina's)

This novel’s remarkable title – derived from an old handbook for neurotics which was the constant companion of Reve’s youth – has been known to aficionados of the author’s work for a good thirty years. After all, it was Reve himself who announced in his renowned autobiographical books in the sixties that he would one day write a book called Het Boek Van Violet En Dood that would render all other books superfluous, with the exception of the Bible and the telephone book.

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Website

http://www.nadertotreve.nl/