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Articles tagged "Dutch Literature"

A Reading List for the 2016 Frankfurt Guest of Honor

Next week’s Frankfurt Book Fair will celebrate the Netherlands and Flanders as the Guest of Honor. The theme of the festivities, “This Is What We Share,” reflects not only the common language, but the consistent depth and richness of literature in Dutch. We’re happy to point you to the wealth of offerings from the two regions in our archives. European Union Prize for Literature winner Peter Terrin’s telephone solicitor calls up trouble in “For an Easy...

On Tao Qian

Tao Qian on Tao Qian: He likes to read and is satisfied with the most simple of explanations. When he understands what something means, he is so happy he forgets to eat. Su Dongpo on Tao Qian: He writes the way someone who is no longer impatient speaks. Huang Tingjian on Tao Qian: The poems are of no use to someone just out of childhood, but if he rereads them when he is old it is as if he has made his decisions without knowing enough. Huang Tingjian says that Su Dongpo is...

Du Fu

Du Fu says of himself that he was a child prodigy, that he was writing poetry when he was seven or eight years old. When he’s over forty, he will be a great poet. What he can think about, he can write about. A child asks if something is important enough to think about. Is this an excuse to get out of doing something else? The other children are already at work. Reading takes time, just like looking around. Every word Du Fu uses, he read somewhere. He remembers the meaning of...

Su Dongpo and the Trick he says he Learned from Tao Qian

The simplest way to find tranquility: keep starting over in a different way. He knows nothing about those who find tranquility, free from what surrounds them; he’s never met anyone like that. Let’s send him somewhere else, see if he changes his tune then. His trick is to be more than happy when things are going well. It’s a warm evening and it will rain later. More to see left and right than he can list. Quiet, except for old man Du Fu reproaching old man...

Dummy Run

He liked his supper at six. To come home from the office, briefly look at the newspaper and then find his meal on the table, that was the way he liked it. When they were just married, Margaret had fitted in with that routine. She had never known anything different in fact; her parents had done it just the same. But a few years ago her attitude had changed. Often it would be seven o'clock, half past seven or as late as eight. Sometimes she wasn't even in when he came home from work....

Room

In that town there was a room I kept circling. It was near my girlfriend’s. She didn’t know I sometimes climbed those stairs. On the wall there were photos from before the war. I talked to an old Frisian writer about it. He said, “I know that room. I should actually go in there, but I’m afraid I’ve left it too late.” He was right. He died during the Games. The room is still there—up the steps and left down the corridor. Everyone knows more or less...

from “Waiting for an Island”

Image description

Marc Legendre's daydreamer waits for his past


A Journey to Spitsbergen

I On the flight from Oslo to Tromsø, two worlds: the land far below me, the map on my lap. Outside, the sun is setting. The clouds hanging over the land on my map have been painted by Max Ernst, surreal, puffy sky formations, squadrons whizzing past us, fire within the gray, the land below already dark, less and less visible, a mere assumption. And mysterious as it may be, it cannot be chaos because roads have been drawn on the map, there are towns, harbors, names. The thin green...

Counterpoint

Aria The woman with the pencil leaned over the table to read a pocket score of the Goldberg Variations. The pencil was made of special black wood. It had a heavy silver cap that concealed a pencil sharpener. The pencil was poised above an empty notebook. Next to the score lay cigarettes and a lighter. A small metal ashtray, a shiny and compact present from a friend, stood on the table. The woman was simply called "woman," perhaps "mother." There were naming problems. There were many...

from “Comfort”

A two-star colleague had helped me import a rye from a small French village with the rather apt name of Pont-Saint-Esprit. Because opium had been banned under the Opium Act in 1928 and no other hard drugs were available from the wholesalers, enthusiasts are forced to find devious ways of getting hold of their stimulants. In previous centuries practically everybody got a regular and considerable dose of mind expansion because practically everybody ate rye bread. Sometimes, rye hosts a...

from “Friends for Four Years”

The bunker, located in a quiet, remote corner of the dunes, was surrounded by a low, thorny shrub that kept other beachgoers at arm's length, along with their economy-size cookie wrappers, empty liter soft-drink bottles, and leftover toilet paper. Its steel-framed entrance was sealed off with barbed wire. Three large herring gulls perched on the concrete, which was partially submerged in the sand. Merel took a deep breath of the sea air to clean out her lungs. It had been a good idea...

The East

The high school was a large red-brick colonial building on a hill covered in scrawny pine trees at the edge of Bukavu. There were better schools in town, but you had to take an entrance exam and Elias realized that would reduce Zikiya's chances. He knew the headmaster and slipped him some money, so Zikiya was admitted without any problem. The boarders slept in bunk beds, wore a blue-and-white uniform, and had three meals a day—it would leave Zikiya with a profound hatred of...

Song

I saw a shop went in and bought something I had forgotten I already had. I stood in the shop and there was nothing else I could remember that I needed. But what do I do with two of them except wait for one to break? My father wanted to teach me about money, that's why he refused to give me something. He gave me money and pointed to a shop, go in and ask for what you want. To read Nachoem M. Wijnberg's "Quiet," please click here.

Quiet

Quiet, you say.      I hardly hear you. You're already that far.      Don't leave me behind like this. I stop talking.      Immediately I'm so dizzy I have to hold on to myself.      Quiet, you say. I miss your laugh so much      I copy it, louder and louder.      That's as quiet as I can be. To read...

from “May the Sun Shine Tomorrow”

1 Malik Ben weighed 300 pounds on the day he decided to have his name removed from the Yellow Pages. Lugging all that weight around day after day had gotten to be a chore, which is what prompted his second resolution: to go on a diet. Malik had dark features. Black hair, which took on a reddish sheen-a kind of auburn he rather liked-whenever he spent too much time in the sun. Brown eyes, the same shade of brown as in the paintings of the old Dutch masters. Pupils that sometimes glowed...

Paravion

Listen. What sounds like a call for silence-shhh!-is really the sound of the wind in the trees, a rumor whispered through the leaves by many tongues. And could that chirping of invisible birds be gossip? They had intended to keep his departure secret. Baba Balook and his wife had told no one about his upcoming journey, for fear of backbiting and disaster-the evil eye-but to no avail. Who had overheard their whispering in curtained nights? Who knows what invisible eavesdroppers dwell...

“Nowhere has denying”

Nowhere has denying reigned as rife as in this not which is outsitting me here.Oh, if only death would outstare itself for ever in its iron mirror. God, what a down-at-heel hope for a voiceless evaporation with wind and light as the silent witnesses which one finds here. From Springvossen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2000). By arrangement with the estate of Hans Faverey.

“Yesterday, yes, I still existed here”

Yesterday, yes, I still existed here: in this pitiful winestain, in these paupered words way past their prime,in that handshake which I will never manage to hold in any of my handbooks, and which under my table leads the still life of a retired country doctor. Go on, admit it: yesterday you also existed here, when the sun turned up humming and we took in the fact that neither one of us, in this circus, dared fight the bear. From Springvossen (Amsterdam: De...

“With one hand in my lap”

With one hand in my lap, with my other hand on the table. My head is located above it;in which a landscape drops anchor, sun-drenched. It is one moonless evening. While his son carefully draws the sculls through the water, his father stands by the hissing lamp, leaning forward, peering into the sea, trident raised. Where is it, now that I am writing it; where am I, now that you are rereading this? From Springvossen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2000). By...

“Since nobody was there anyway”

Since nobody was there anyway, and since it is not blocked off, it's time for a walk once again along the brink of the beach, where all of a sudden the woods held back, or have withdrawn by degrees.Thinking this is someone who does not know that he is in this text and will never get out again, however he tinkers with sentences and shifts the meanings about. Better that than the other way round, when cold strikes without warning; and better never than late. Here I go...

“One fine day it was night”

One fine day it was night. I seemed to be just about to catch my first fish. Suddenly it allconspires against me. It was too late to unbait my hook. I head for home, humming in my sleep, to worship the dark- ness, with pounding heart. From Springvossen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2000). By arrangement with the estate of Hans Faverey.

If later, or sooner, it is

If later, or sooner, it is, or becomes, sayable-this is the most thingable it will be; best of all, let my text encircle someonewho foists it on himself, or by whom it's fobbed off with itself; if smoke fails to announce the outcome, I might as well go to sea: to let oneself be blown away. From Springvossen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2000). By arrangement with the estate of Hans Faverey.

“Then they went away too”

"Then they went away too." Hardly had I known them. I also hardly stayed behind. I would have liked to write something down, but I had forgotten to writeit down. If you listen to people, it's all about a future which lives in a pebble and is as smooth as the self-same pebble. Now and again I own such a pebble as well: a moment before I've thrown it away. From Springvossen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2000). By arrangement with the estate of Hans Faverey.

“As simple as a drop of water”

1 As simple as a drop of water, as clear as a splinter of birch, Because the foal falls patiently, cautiously out of the horse and is able to stand, And the fish unfolds like a metal tear and is able to fly, and people quand m'me Are slow to learn silence and absence amidst their armoured scree, It isn't as simple, as clear what I'm left with when I have put down my pen. From Springvossen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 2000). By arrangement...

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