Harry Mulisch

Harry Mulisch (1927-2010) was born on July 29, 1927 in Haarlem to a Jewish mother and a half-German, half-Austrian father. After his parents divorced in 1937, he was raised by his father’s German housekeeper. The father was joint director of a banking firm which was a repository for stolen Jewish funds.

Photo: Harry Tee

‘I didn’t so much “experience? the war: I am the Second World War,’ Mulisch wrote in the autobiographical Mijn getijdenboek (My Book of Hours, 1975). Het stenen bruidsbed (The Stone Bridal Bed, 1959) is regarded as the best work from his early period. In addition to novels, Mulisch has written plays, poetry, political pieces and philosophical studies. He is one of the most illustrious authors in the Netherlands today. His work is held in high regard, as witness the numerous awards he has received, including the P.C. Hooft Prize (1977), the Constantijn Huygens Prize (1977) and the Dutch Literature Prize (Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren, 1995). Mulisch gained international fame with De ontdekking van de hemel (The Discovery of Heaven, 1992). The American press compared him with Homer, Dante and Goethe.

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Harry Mulisch

The Stone Bridal Bed

Harry Mulisch is a philosophical author who does not shun the great issues of life. This is evident in his magnum opus 'De ontdekking van de hemel' (The Discovery of Heaven, 1992), which centres on the ungodliness of the world due to progressive technology, and the disastrous consequences for humanity. Although his basic premise is pessimistic, Mulisch offers a way out: for those who perceive the world as essentially in harmony, and who prefer the freedom of art to the yoke of technology, there is still hope.

Harry Mulisch

Criminal Case 40/61

In her preface to 'Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil' (1963), Hannah Arendt tells us that the Dutch writer Harry Mulisch is one of the few to have shared her views of the character of Adolf Eichmann, the organiser of the Holocaust. In 1961, Mulisch went to Jerusalem to report on the Eichmann trial for a Dutch weekly. His articles were collected a year later and published as 'De zaak 40/61'.

Harry Mulisch

Two Women

In 1975 Harry Mulisch published a novel that stunned the critics with the simplicity of its storyline and the unexpected theme of lesbian love, which until then had been almost exclusively the domain of female writers. But 'Twee vrouwen' is above all a psychological novel.

Harry Mulisch

The Assault

As the only child of a Jewish mother and an Austrian banker who worked with the Nazis, Harry Mulisch brought together two moral extremes in his biography. It is no coincidence that the war features in his work time and again. De Aanslag (The Assault), published in 1982, is his most successful war novel. This book is a thriller and a moral-philosophical novel in one.

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