Tag Archives: World War Two

Famine, War and Love: a Novel

famine, war and love

Image: amazon.com

A reader of my blog recently published a novel and he has been kind enough to send me a signed copy!

The story makes the connection between the famines of Ireland in the nineteenth century, the Netherlands during the Hunger Winter of 1944-1945 under German occupation, and Ethiopia in the early 1980s,  thus bringing into view the universality of the effects of hunger, war and displacement. Continue reading

Trump and Muslim Databanks

image: dcwhispers.com

image: dcwhispers.com

I wrote a short post about the angry goldfish and his demagoguery about illegal immigrants last week. Now that a few Islamic extremists have carried out some horrendous attacks in Paris, he has moved seemlessly to Syrian refugees and more: he wants to register all Muslims in this country and make them have some kind of identification as such. Continue reading

The Assault: Part 10: Time Eternal

Image: Jan Breughel the elder: Orpheus in the Underworld

Image: Jan Breughel the elder: Orpheus in the Underworld

The tinkering with time and events, which I addressed in the previous post, leads us to what Mulisch calls “time eternal;” the elements in his writing which put the historical events into a larger, more timeless perspective. Continue reading

The Assault: Part 9: Familiar Imagery

demonstratieAlthough Mulisch demonstrates, especially in the case of the names of the houses and the signs in the gravel, that even the symbols disappear, and even though he explicitly claims within The Assault that it is fiction, Dutch readers, especially in the 1980s, recognized many of the historical aspects of the novel. In fact, history is so cleverly woven together with fiction that many readers thought the whole story was factual. The Belgian television even came to film at the location of the assault, but they could not find it (1). Continue reading

The Assault: Part 8: Selection and Reduction

image: en.wikipedia.org

image: en.wikipedia.org

In the last post we saw how Mulisch addresses the fact that historical events, as well as events on a personal level, are determined by both causality and sheer coincidence.

History is also a matter of selection and reduction. Continue reading

The Assault: Part 7: Causality and Coincidence

image: historiek.net

image: historiek.net

As we have seen, Mulisch believes that the purpose of history education is to explain the present, and therefore it should be taught in the reverse. He claims that:

since history does not ‘start’ with the Assyrians, but with the previous second, history education should not start with cracked clay tablets, but with yesterday’s paper. Does geography education begin with the topography of the Philippines? (1)

Continue reading

The Assault: Part 6: The Changing Past

image: ifthenisnow.nl

image: ifthenisnow.nl

Mulisch’s philosophy about time is inevitably connected to his views on history and writing about history. He has stated:

that one can visit the location of past events, but not the time. The past changes in  the same way that locations change–skyscrapers where there were once rhubarb fields, and sometimes the other way around. In our memory, skyscrapers are constantly being built and demolished as well; every moment in our past is constantly being revised. Make no mistake: the past is just as uncertain as the future. In the future (almost) anything can happen–but in the past (almost) anything can have happened. (1)

Continue reading