F. Bordewijk

Blocks, Growling Creatures, Bint

Futuristic modernist tales in a cool, hard-edged style

Bordewijk was associated with the New Objectivity movement because of his cold-blooded style, but the graphic imagery and magical quality of his stories consistently marked him as a great man of letters. He outdid himself with the character of headmaster Bint, who demands iron self-control and discipline from his pupils.

Contrary to its author’s intentions, Bint became notorious, reaping both praise and moral condemnation. Was Bordewijk’s tale a parable of the failure of human discipline or a plea for totalitarian education? With fascism on the rise, readers felt uncomfortable with Bint’s philosophy of submission to pain and the subjugation of the will.

Verbal artistry with a veneer of objectivity also characterized his novels of the early 1930s. Blocks is a nightmare vision of a future state in which communist ideals are pursued to the point of madness. In Growling Creatures, cosmopolitan automobiles seize power from their owners.

  • Bordewijk’s style is often described as ‘reinforced concrete’.
  • When speaking of himself as a writer, F. Bordewijk always used the third person.
  • The film based on *Character *won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film of 1998.

F. Bordewijk

Ferdinand Bordewijk (1884-1965) made his prose debut in an unusual genre uncommon for the Netherlands - three compilations of Fantastische vertellingen (‘Fantastic Narratives’). The three subsequent short novels Blokken (1931), Knorrende beesten (1933) and Bint (1934) secured his reputation…

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Blokken, Knorrende beesten, Bint (1935). Fiction, 155 pages.
Words: 35,000

Themes: classic


Dutch Classics


Nijgh & Van Ditmar

Weteringschans 259
NL - 1017 XJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 760 72 10

[email protected]

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