notes on dutch literature

Posts Tagged ‘Tim Krabbe’

The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure

In Pick of the Week on January 20, 2013 at 8:36 PM

The Rider - Tim Krabbe
“If there’s one book every cyclist should read, it’s The Rider by Tim Krabbé. Just like knowing the basic skill of how to fix a puncture, this should be mandatory reading for every cyclist.[…]I’ve never read anything that captures the essence of the pleasure, the suffering and the insanity of a bike race so perfectly” Cycling Tips

English readers know Tim Krabbé primarily for The Vanishing, the translation of his 1984 novel Het Gouden Ei (The Golden Egg), which was made into an acclaimed 1988 Dutch film for which Krabbé co-wrote a script.
Originally published in Holland in 1978, The Rider became an instant cult classic, selling over 100,000 copies. Translated by the gifted Sam Garret and published by Bloomsbury in 2002.

The Rider is brilliantly conceived and written at a breakneck pace, it is a loving, imaginative, and, above all, passionate tribute to the art of bicycle road racing. Like much of Krabbé’s oeuvre, The Rider has a strange, dark, philosophical flavour: it is both a paean to pain and a hymn to the fellowship of the road. Nothing better is ever likely to be written on the subjective experience of cycle-racing.

Cycling is one of Krabbé’s great enthusiasms. Though he discovered his talent for cycle-racing relatively late in life, in his 30s. That new-found passion eventually found its way into this autobiographical novella about a 150-kilometre bike race in south-west France, the Tour de Mont Aigoual. “Suffering always appealed to me – it’s the essence of cycling. When I was eight or nine, I loved running against my friends. I had an image of myself as able to endure physical strain.” He explains in an interview with the Guardian.

“The greater the suffering, the greater the pleasure. That is nature’s payback to riders for the homage they pay her by suffering. Velvet pillows, safari parks, sunglasses; people have become woolly mice. They still have bodies that can walk for five days and four nights through a desert of snow, without food, but they accept praise for having taken a one-hour bicycle ride. ‘Good for you’. Instead of expressing their gratitude for the rain by getting wet, people walk around with umbrellas. Nature is an old lady with few friends these days, and those who wish to make use of her charms, she rewards passionately.” from The Rider.

Strand Bookstore: where Dutch books are loved

In Second hand finds on October 17, 2012 at 5:06 PM


If you ever visited Strand Bookstore in NYC you know what I mean when I say I was a little overwhelmed! They have books everywhere and the shelves almost reach the high ceilings, this is “where books are loved”…

Where my local Barnes&Nobles fails to have even one Dutch writer in stock, Strand Bookstore turns out to be a very good place to find great Dutch writers in translation. A quick search on the website already shows that they have quite a few authors in stock. Bring a list, because you have to really look for specific titles. A lot of the books are otherwise hard to find!

Just a few of the great finds you can find here for a very good price: Hella S. Haasse (1918-2011), the grand old dame of the historical novels (The Tea Lordsa portrayal of three generations of Dutch colonial experience in the East Indies, is one of her most well-known books), Willem Frederik Hermans (Darkroom of Damocles and Beyond Sleep, classic post-war literature); terrific Belgium writer Hugo Claus (Sorrow of Belgium), Arthur Japin (the Director’s Cut, In Lucia’s Eyes, The Two hearts of Kwasi Boachi, and Tim Krabbe.

In Lucia's Eyes, novel by Arthur Japin

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