Posts Tagged ‘ferdinand bordewijk

Character, an update

The UK edition may be OP, but it looks as though Bordewijk’s book is still in print in the US:


Written by Dave Lovely

August 29, 2007 at 11:23 am

Posted in publishing

Tagged with

Character building

From signandsight, again, Cees Nooteboom on a classic of Dutch literature:


I know of no other book whose characters keep each other in such a stranglehold of withheld information, until it seems as if the story itself is being played out in a cocoon of silence…

The book is Karakter, by Ferdinand Bordewijk (1938), a merciless study of a father-son relationship played out amid the mean, and now vanished, streets of pre-war Rotterdam. The cover shown above is from the current Dutch edition, the 40th. Whether it “misses the quintessence of the book”, as Nooteboom feels, or not, I can’t say, but it made me read his article, and it would certainly make me pick the book up in a bookshop. Peter Owen published a translation in 1966, now unfortunately out-of-print , which I’d like to get hold of.

More about Karakter at the excellent site of the NLPVF [The Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature].

Written by Dave Lovely

August 28, 2007 at 9:01 am