Tag Archives: WWII

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

The Assault: Part 5: Time Stands Still

056_edited-1Time comes to a standstill for Anton, and this isolates him from the rest of humanity. Mulisch comments on isolation in time elsewhere: Continue reading

The Assault: Part 4: Mulisch’s Five Times

image: Anthony Dodd

image: Anthony Dodd

Well, would you look at that–today’s prompt is Student-Teacher! I could link this whole series. But I won’t–just this one. Click here if you want to start at the beginning. Continue reading