It Is The Winter Of , The Last Dark Days Of World War II In Occupied Holland A Nazi Collaborator, Infamous For His Cruelty, Is Assassinated As He Rides Home On His Bicycle The Germans Retaliate By Burning Down The Home Of An Innocent Family Only Twelve Year Old Anton SurvivesBased On Actual Events, The Assault Traces The Complex Repercussions Of This Horrific Incident On Anton S Life Determined To Forget, He Opts For A Carefully Normal Existence A Prudent Marriage, A Successful Career, And Colorless Passivity But The Past Keeps Breaking Through, In Relentless Memories And In Chance Encounters With Others Who Were Involved In The Assassination And Its Aftermath, Until Anton Finally Learns What Really Happened That Night In And Why Penguinrandomhouse There is an immediacy that is heart rending as the Germans enter their home Time in the present is excruciatingly fearful told through Mulisch s pressurized details.Rationed war time goods disappearing the family lives in bleakness The war has ended but not yet in this Dutch land In the middle of the deserted street, in front of Mr Korteweg s house lay a bicycle with its upended front wheel still turning Beside the bicycle is the corpse of a fascist sympathizer, a German policeman, shot and killed Someone from the Korteweg s house transfers the body to the front of twelve year old Anton s house Now the target of reprisal And yet And yet the father sits at the kitchen table reading the Jewish Philosopher Spinoza stepping into a different realm of time.Time is crucial in this novel The means by which it moves and transfers, how it winds in on itself At moments how it stands still Everything was still and yet time went by It was as if everything grew radiant with the passage of time, like pebbles at the bottom of a brook Premonitions of what will happen with to Anton in the future time slipping and weaving We are situated in the present the now looking back on 1945.The trickiness of trauma is forthright here There are times when one goes through a trauma and is knocked unconscious and therefore the memory of the trauma is wiped away It is no longer retrievable No longer exists within the brain Others are less lucky and must grapple forever with what lies within consciousness, now their enemy They as enemies of themselves This horrid trauma that forced itself upon Anton and his family, effects Anton s life in his attempt to suppress it, block it off, which means his blocking himself off from himself Mulisch, through the novelistic weaving of his plot is sensitive and explicit in how it also changes many lives.The language is attuned to the contents, its pitch and mood As Anton grows up it fell flat as though Mulisch ran out of things to say The narrator even slipped from reliable to unreliable with words such as, probably, etc peppering the narrative I felt jilted and felt that I shouldn t have to pay for all the rest of the words not in money or time Fortunately I had a moving spiritual experience the ghost of my ignorance floated before my eyes Unblinking, it reminded me of its constant presence even in the face of my liveliest tricks I was able to hear and see from its whispered breath on my mirror that indeed the language was flattened and slowed due to the craftsmanship of Mulisch In his hands the language acutely portrayed Anton s abandonment of his self and the halting pace of life, as well as the irremovable stains of betrayal to the truth.I didn t remove that ghostly breath from the mirror Although, I claim my right that there were moments where personal biography thinned out the passage s but this was overwhelmingly rebutted by the return of fiction where the language exploded into passion, especially in confrontations with people from his past.Obviously this is a 5 star book One that I will remember, that will haunt me, that I will continue to think about wanted or not So, what happened to that other star I keep my stars locked in a safe The only answer is that it lost one tenth of a star for on P 66 letters were missing or faded along the left boundary This was important since every word in this book was so crucial But here is the sadness My sadness The book drew to a stunning and startling conclusion Only it was two pages before the ending Read all the way through the last two pages printed as though we the readers hadn t and wouldn t catch on and understand, deflated the structure The edifice tumbled down.I highly recommend, The Assault, but please stop reading two pages from the end In my edition, The Pantheon Modern Writers paperback P 180 Also it is Author s Kindness Week and to remember how difficult it is to end a story Even great writers sometimes need a little bit of assistance Time to go clean up mirror until next time. This book, translated from the Dutch, starts with an incident in 1945 during the German occupation of the Netherlands A Dutch police official, known for his cruelty and collaboration with the Germans, is shot outside a young boy s house The Germans have no idea who killed the man but someone has to pay, so they invade his house and see a lot of Jew books laying around They make his mother walk back and forth because they believe they can tell a Jewish woman by how she walks The family is not Jewish, but the Germans retaliate by killing his parents and burning his house His older brother disappears in the confusion and is never seen again.The boy is not killed and is raised by an aunt and uncle It becomes, first of all, a story of delayed grief he never cries about the loss of his family until 20 years later when he is in his thirties They the aunt and uncle probably thought he was terribly disturbed by the past, dreamed about it every night, but the fact was that he almost never thought about it Secondly, it becomes a story of the gradual revelation of the true nature of the incidents that occurred Actually the man was shot outside another house and the body was moved to the front of their house The chapters, identified by years 1945, 1952, 1956, 1966, 1981 mark incidents when the main character, formerly the young boy, revisits neighbors, or when he accidentally runs into people involved, such as old neighbors, the son of the man who was shot, and he comes to realize he even met one of the shooters World news from these years and reactions in the Netherlands, such as anti US demonstrations during the Vietnam War, provide a backdrop to the story In the end, The whole story was worse than the partial one he had known A good read a tragic story about good and evil but with a humanistic surprise Top photo from prezi.comPhoto of the author from parool.nl There s a popular argument for the existence of God, which is that the world, as we see and experience it, is complexly ordered, and so someone must be responsible for this order Which is nice and logical, of course, but, rightly or wrongly, when I look at the world I don t see harmony, I see chaos, especially where humanity is concerned When I think about human existence it strikes me as overwhelmingly random Without exception, you re thrown into a situation over which you have no control whatsoever, a situation whether good or bad that is unstable, where with each passing second something could happen that could alter the fabric of your life And this, at least partly, is what Harry Mulisch s acclaimed Dutch novel is about.The Assault spans decades in the life of Anton Steenwijk It opens in 1945, a time when almost all of Europe had been liberated and were once rejoicing but this is Holland, and the Nazis are, unfortunately, still hanging around Despite the war, the atmosphere in the Steenwijk household is peaceful, domestic the family are spending the evening together the eldest son is doing his homework, with the help of his father the mother is unravelling a sweater Later, they start to play a board game Then, with no warning, six gunshots punctuate the night like the sound of the flapping of giant moth wings, and everything changes Mulisch emphasises the normality of the situation prior to the shots almost as a way of lulling you into a false sense of security, the same false sense of security that the family themselves feel Moreover, it is necessary that you believe that this is a normal family, that you understand that this the assault that occurs could happen to anyone, that remarkable things can and do happen to unremarkable people Nazi collaborator and police officer Fake Krist lays dead in Haarlem, Netherlands, after being shot by the resistance Of course, you now want to know what the assault is The details of the tragedy, which is partly based on a true story, are not important, not in relation to this review, anyway What interests me is what I touched upon in the introduction, which is just how unpredictable life is One event, one moment no warning, and nothing is ever the same again Anton, the Steenwijk s youngest son, and only twelve at the time, is uprooted from Haarlem, and moved to Amsterdam he is adopted by his aunt and uncle More significantly, he carries the event around with him, is influenced by it, even when he thinks that he is paying it no mind, because in avoidance of something one still has a relationship with it Towards the middle of the novel, Mulisch introduces another important character, Cor Takes, who interacts with Anton as an adult He is obviously affected by the assault, he, year on year, has it at the forefront of his mind, he makes no effort to let it go Yet it is the case that both characters cannot escape it, or the war in Holland as a whole, they are tied to it it is simply that they deal with that in different ways The horrible truth of the matter is that one does not live with war or tragedy for the duration of the conflict or incident, one lives with it forever this is, I think, Mulisch s point.You might ask, how do I know this How do I know that one lives with tragedy long after the event, that it becomes part of you Well, it isn t something I have learnt from literature, that s for sure I ve had my own experiences, which I won t go into here, and I have known many people refugees, rape victims, trafficked women, etc who have suffered than I And I saw their story in The Assault, in Anton Steenwijk s behaviour and mindset Mulisch s book is, for me, the most believable, and powerful, exploration of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that I have encountered in fiction As noted, Anton rarely acknowledges the past to himself, and yet his choices, his actions, scream about it For example, he studies medicine, because he was fascinated by the delicate equilibrium that must be maintained whenever the butchers plant their knives in someone this balancing on the edge between life and death And I don t think it takes a genius to understand why he might have an interest in death, in pain, and, as an anesthesiologist, consciousness and memory Likewise, Anton chooses a wife that, he admits to himself, in some vague way reminds him of the woman with whom he shared a cell so soon after the assault.One of the most moving passages in the book is when Anton is at the theatre watching The Cherry Orchard, Anton Chekhov s famous last play, and he suddenly experiences an intensely painful flashback The play is not, of course, at all concerned with war and yet Steenwijk sees something in it, in an innocuous scene involving a family sat around a table, that reminds him of his own family and that awful night in 1945 This kind of thing is, sadly, very familiar to me As are the nightmares that Anton experiences Indeed, I know a young woman who all but avoids sleep because she cannot cope with the terrible nightmares she suffers as a result of what once happened to her Even if I thought the rest of his book was dogshit I don t , I would applaud Mulisch who lived through world war two himself, who lost his grandmother in the gas chambers for all this, for going there and nailing it in such a sensitive way A performance of The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov One thing that I do want to make explicit is that The Assault is such a brave and intelligent novel Even in relation to something like the Nazi occupation of a country, Mulisch does not blindly take sides, he does not look for easy answers or explanations For example, the resistance man, Takes, admits to killing and cutting up literally into pieces Nazis or collaborators, he longs to murder an old woman who ratted him out There s no romanticising of freedom fighters here, folks In fact, Takes comments that many people only joined the resistance because they knew that Hitler was losing and while I would rather not believe this, I do, unfortunately, find it very easy to believe.Mulisch also pulls no punches in relation to the dead body that inspires the assault When Fake Ploeg is shot a neighbour moves the corpse so that it it is outside the Steenwijk s house, knowing full well what this means, what will happen when the Nazis find it there Moreover, Peter Steenwijk goes outside intent on moving it again this scene is, in fact, grimly amusing , either back to from where it came, or to another house Again, he knows what the consequences will be when it is found Mulisch is not afraid to acknowledge the ruthlessness of people caught in life or death situations Better them, than us Even though all are innocent Every one of us would like to think that we would not do such a thing, that we would not condemn someone else in order to save ourselves, but it is impossible to say with any certainty how one would behave in such a situation Not until people are called Adolf again will the Second World War be really behind us But that means we d have to have a third world war, which would mean the end of Adolfs forever You may have noticed that I have not so far not indulged in any criticism, and the reason for this is that The Assault is almost without blemish The most I could say in this regard is that the scene between Anton and the woman in the dark prison cell is slightly cringeworthy I just, I don t know, struggled to get on board with a wounded woman babbling on about poetry and love, while feeling up a young boy s face A serious complaint would be that there is a hell of a lot of contrivance, or coincidence in the book Anton meets Takes, who played a major role in the assault, at a funeral, for example in fact, he overhears him talking about it This is many years after the event, of course Yet one could argue that these coincidences are all part of, are evidence of Mulisch s ideas about living with war and the impossibility of escaping one s past Throughout his life, Anton consistently bumps into people that are connected to the war, because it is simply a fact that everyone was involved in it in some way, you didn t have a choice, it was unavoidable, it was there, on your doorstep, like Fake Ploeg s dead body I usually wouldn t post something like this, but as the same picture is featured on the front cover of the book I feel comfortable with it . 1944.. Harry Mulisch was born in Haarlem, Netherlands and lived in Amsterdam from 1958 until his death in 2010 His father was from Austria Hungary and emigrated to the Netherlands after the First World War During the German occupation in World War II his father worked for a German bank, which also dealt with confiscated Jewish assets, while his mother, Alice Schwarz, was Jewish Mulisch and his mother escaped transportation to a concentration camp thanks to Mulisch s father s collaboration with the Nazis, but his maternal grandmother died in a gas chamber.His novel, The Assault, opens in Netherlands near the end of World War II The narrative focuses on the persistence of memory in his protagonist, Anton Steenwijk Five episodes from Anton Steenwijk s life are described in this novel, representing five stations of his life from 1945, 1952, 1956, 1966, and 1981 It is the first that is the most significant, describing the assault of the novel s title It is his memory of this assault, the massacre of his family, that permeates and shapes the rest of his life in ways that he has difficulty comprehending The narrative presents episodes in Anton s life each episode overshadowed by his memories of the assault At one level, the book can be read as a detective story, reminiscent of Simenon, with intriguing twists and turns and a definite solution It is also a morality tale though one that doesn t point out any easy moral , a dark fable about design and accident, strength and weakness, and the ways in which guilt and innocence can overlap and intermingle What impressed me was the authors ability to convey Anton s feelings of alienation and isolation from others His struggle, often due to his memories, to overcome these feelings color all of the subsequent episodes The process of putting Haarlem behind him resembled the changes a man goes through when he divorces He takes a girl friend to forget his wife, but just doing that prolongs the connection with the wife Possibly things will work out only with the next girl friend although the third one has the best chance Boundaries have to be continuously sealed off, but it s a hopeless job, fore everything touches everything else in this world A beginning never disappears, not even with the ending Told against the backdrop of shifting Dutch post war society, centered around significant points in that history the reaction to the events in Budapest in 1956, the release of Willy Lages head of the Gestapo in Holland , anti nuclear protests in 1981 Mulisch paints a canvas of the difficulties of Dutch society in coming to terms with the events of the war There are no easy answers for Mulisch, no simple blame to assign, even where it first appears there might be Mulisch, using a taut and subtle style, explores questions of guilt and innocence, heroism and cowardice in this spellbinding and moving novel While very different in style and tone from Wolfgang Koeppens Death in Rome, Mulisch s novel is just as effective in portraying the lasting impact of the War on Europe The Assault is one of the best novels I have read, in fact it is one of the finest examples of European postwar fiction.Mulisch also gained international recognition with the film adaptation of The Assault It received an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best foreign movie in 1986. . .
Harry Kurt Victor Mulisch along with W.F Hermans and Gerard Reve, is considered one of the Great Three of Dutch postwar literature He has written novels, plays, essays, poems, and philosophical reflections.Mulisch was born in Haarlem and lived in Amsterdam since 1958, following the death of his father in 1957 Mulisch s father was from Austria Hungary and emigrated to the Netherlands after the
- 185 pages
- De aanslag
- Harry Mulisch
- 27 October 2019 Harry Mulisch