notes on dutch literature

Posts Tagged ‘Eclipse’

Bernlef (1937-2012)

In Masters on October 30, 2012 at 12:58 AM

Today J. Bernlef passed away. Of the 75 years of his life, he was a novelist, essayist, poet and translator for over 50 years.

Bernlef debuted in 1960 and has produced an extensive body of work including poems, short stories, novels and essays. He translated the Scandinavian poets Lars Gustafsson and Tomas Tranströmer into Dutch and was editor of the literary periodicals Barbarber and Raster.

His most famous book Hersenschimmen (translated as Out of Mind in 1988) was published in 1984. In this novel Bernlef has depicted reality through the eyes of a man who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

The New York Times wrote about Out of Mind:

Bernlef brings such intensity to the telling of this horribly fascinating tale that we have a sense of accompanying Maarten in his descent, not as observers but as participants in his tragedy. So we willingly suspend our disbelief in Maarten’s ability to narrate so coherently his growing incoherence. This is in part due to the human instinct to exclaim, “t could happen to me,” but chiefly to the power of Bernlef’s vivid prose, which has been translated with unobtrusive excellence by Adrienne Dixon.

He received many prizes for both his novels and his poetry, including the PC Hooft Prize and the Constantijn Huygens Prize. Other translated novels are Public Secret and Eclipse.

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