Hella S. Haasse

In a Dark Wood Wandering

In this biography of the 15th-century poet-statesman Charles d’Orléans Haasse blends historical facts with psychological and social interpretation. Behind the family quarrels between the houses of Burgundy and Orleans are people and emotions and she attempts to expose the human motives for murder and intrigue.

In contrast with her later historical novels, in this book, Haasse the novelist is dominant. Haasse bases her sketch of 15th century court life on minute primary source research and does nothing to violate the historical facts. She portrays Charles d’Orléans as a sensitive, introverted person who feels misjudged in his relations and friendships.

Among people for whom having and maintaining power is a condition for survival, he attempts to survive by different means. In his twenty-five years of imprisonment his talent as a poet matures and he discovers how to garner strength from his art. He also achieves a freedom inaccessible to him in his position in real life.

A long-overdue translation of a masterful European bestseller. Four-star historical fiction.


Monumental and lucid, with characters which take their place as living human beings.

Times Literary Supplement

A splendid book…

The New York Times


Hella S. Haasse

Hella S. Haasse (1918 - 2011) was born in Batavia, modern-day Jakarta. She moved to the Netherlands after secondary school. In 1945 she debuted with a collection of poems, entitled Stroomversnelling (Momentum). She made her name three years later with the novella given out to mark the Dutch Book…

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Het woud der verwachting (1949). Fiction, 577 pages.

Themes: classic



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