Marcellus Emants

The son of a judge, Marcellus Emants was born near The Hague in 1848 and began his writing career with plays and epic poems. After a number of polemics in which he expressed opposition to the ‘petty idealists’ of Dutch literature, who far too simplistically divided humanity into angels and devils, he made his novelistic debut in 1888 with Juffrouw Lina (Miss Lina), the story of a kitchen maid suffering from hereditary insanity who is driven to suicide. Emants was an inveterate pessimist who continued in later work to expose the deficiencies of creation by portraying emotionally unstable fictional characters. His understated but elegant style, very different from the word painting favoured by his contemporaries, has ensured that Emants, who died in 1923, remains one of the most frequently read of nineteenth-century Dutch authors.

A Posthumous Confession

A Posthumous Confession

( 1894, 292 pages)

Marcellus Emants was the Netherlands’ greatest advocate of naturalism in the style of Emile Zola. In this thrilling ‘whydunnit’, first published in 1894, he depicts his central character as a plaything of his origins and circumstances, demonstrating that free will is an illusion.

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