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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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Books (11)

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Messages From The Blue House

After having spent half a century abroad, sisters Felicia and Nina return to the house of their youth. It is only for the summer, the house has been sold and is one to be demolished. For the two sisters, however, this short period is one of fierce confrontation with one another and their past. The…

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The Scarlet City

Much of Haasse’s work consists of historical novels, a genre eminently suited to her erudition and her subtle, penetrating mind. By opting for historical fiction she is not fleeing the present, but rather voicing her deep conviction that history is what determines the present. In the labyrinthine…

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The Gardens of Bomarzo

The Gardens of Bomarzo can be read both as a personal essay and as a study in cultural history, but above all it is a historical whodunit. Intrigued by the mysteries surrounding the Parco dei Mostri (Park of the Monsters) in the ancient Italian town of Bomarzo, Hella S. Haasse follows a trail that…

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The Ways of the Imagination

Another dimension of Haasse’s talent is on display in The Ways of the Imagination, an impressive product of her creative powers in which her evocative prose shimmers with hidden meanings. A truck driver gives a stranded Dutch family a lift to the south of France and, as they drive through the…

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Fenrir: A Long Weekend in the Ardennes

Hella Haasse’s popularity with a wide range of readers may have contributed to her not being included in the list of great post-war Dutch authors; nevertheless she does deserve a place among the likes of Claus, Hermans and Mulisch. Regardless of the genre in which she writes, she has always…

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The Tea Merchants

Hella Haasse is the ‘grande dame’ of Dutch letters. She made her name with lengthy, excellently documented, fast paced historical novels on subjects ranging from the life of Charles d’Orleans in early fifteenthcentury France to the Papal court in Rome (the ‘scarlet city’) a century later.…

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The Garden House

Hella S. Haasse is renowned for her historical novels. They are intelligent, exciting, and well-documented; they take the reader by surprise and lead one back, compellingly, to another time and place. When she uses contemporary settings for her novels and stories, she generally writes about…

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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…

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For many Dutch people, Oeroeg was an eyeopening introduction to race relations in the colonial Dutch East Indies. In the brief scope of a novella, Haasse illuminates the fundamental problems of the colonial system.

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Eye of the Key

Despite her advanced years, Hella S. Haasse always succeeds magnificently in penning novels that add something new and radical to her majestic oeuvre. Her latest novel has even been hailed by Dutch literary critics as one of the best she has ever written.
In Sleuteloog, Haasse returns to the Dutch…

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