Littell II

For those of you who read German, the FAZ (Frankfurter Allgemeneine Zeitung) has a good dossier on Littell’s novel: In it I find confirmation of my doubts wrt the literary quality of this big novel — considering that it still is a major work.

Another thing — and this regards the comparision between 2666 and Les bienveillantes — is that during the first 200 or 300 pages of the book, images from 2666 and especially of the character Hans Reiter as a soldier during WW II in the Oekraine, kept haunting me, so much that sometimes Aue became more like Reiter. The image of Reiter was stronger than that of Aue. While reading Littell I was wondering about Reiter, and the Sonora murders from 2666. The characters fuse maybe up to a certain extent because both Bolano and Littell use aspects from Ernst Jünger (and his novels) for Reiter and Aue. (No: I was reminded in both instances of Jünger, that’s more correct; they do not use concrete aspects from Jünger’s biography, rather they seem inspired by a certain distanced aesthetized look at the world that I identify with Jünger).

Reading Bolano I want to reread Bolano to come closer to understanding ‘life’. Reading Littell I want to do research and find out more about the history of WW II.

Hmm. Am I making myself clear?

en,reading matter | January 14, 2009 | 12:45 | Comments Off on Littell II |

Jonathan Littell: De welwillenden

Finished reading Jonathan Littell’s De welwillenden (Les Bienveillantes), the beste-selling novel about the atrocities of World War II from the perspective of a homosexual SD-member. Yes, it’s an impressive book. And more than any other book — including Vollmann’s Central Europe — (and including Primo Levi’s novels — which fall in a totally different class) this novel heightens my interest in WW II. The novel is horrifying and gripping.

But, but… (with every book I read there should be a ‘but’) … I did find that the passages about the protagonist, well, let’s call it ‘disturbed’ relationship with his twin sister, and his relation with his mother, weaken the novel’s possible impact. It is good for some delirious stretches of prose, and shocking descriptions, but it is a bit ‘cliche’ too. Although I do understand the function in the novel.

There are a few more motives which border on the cliche (the policemen that keep following the protagonist). Not that this ever really disturbed me. Just thinking of how the book could’ve been even better…

In some ways there are two books here — one is about a homosexual art-and-literature loving dandy- Nazi who is in love with his twin sister (good for some scandalous scenes). The other one is a very serious historical novel about the atrocities of WW II in Eastern Europe (much more shocking). One bridge between those two sides is provided by “Robert Brasillach” and “Leon Degrelle”, and in a sense by Theweleit’s Mannerphantasien — on which Littell wrote a long essay (that I have not read). (Of course the protagonist reads Blanchot during the war).

What I am asking myself: would I find such a novel stronger if the protagonist would have for instance a married Nazi, with a workers-background (or were all of those in the Wehrmacht?), instead of a cosmopolitan cultured person from a pretty rich family, and a troubled relation/lovelife? Surely the idea is not that all ‘executioners’ and murderers are “disturbed” psychologically, like this protagonist? I know, this is a very bad type of criticism. Yet, still, as I said, the pages about the ‘personal problems’ of Aue (the protagonist) did not really capture my attention as much as the ones about the war as such, and well, as you see, I keep on wondering about it.

It is a novel about ‘evil’ (though Littell in an interview in the FAZ says it is not). That invites comparision with Bolano’s 2666 — with its 200+ pages of descriptions of murders in Sonora.

Oh well, yes, I prefer 2666. And that preference indicates a ‘poetics’, a set of ideas of what constitutes good literature. (I wish I were able now to make an outline of that.)


en,nl,reading matter | January 14, 2009 | 0:49 | Comments Off on Jonathan Littell: De welwillenden |

004 / 0110 / 1.35

Het kaartje doet een gewoon rondje Ronde Hoep vermoeden, maar door -3, overal ijs (behalve op de Oude Waver) en wit berijpte weilanden was het heel speciaal. Zelfs een huisrondje is dan als nieuw. Met zulk winterweer krijgt Nederland last van het schaatsvirus. Wij denken dat dit gewoon winterweer is, dat dit is wat winter hoort te zijn. In werkelijkheid is het een zeldzaamheid voor een land met zeeklimaat. (In IJsland was het vandaag 5 graden boven nul, in Noord-Noorwegen 6 boven nul). Kleine ijspegels in mn baard. Wel pech: spaakbreuk. Achterwiel is sowieso op. Hmmm.

Marcusstraat – Amstel – Ouderkerk – Ronde Hoep – Ouderkerk – Amstel – Marcusstraat

cycling,nl | January 10, 2009 | 15:22 | Comments Off on 004 / 0110 / 1.35 |

003 / 0109 / 1.50

Alle andere wielrenners stonden natuurlijk op het ijs, maar ik heb geen schaatsen en kan niet echt schaatsen. Je hoefde niet te kunnen schaatsen om vandaag een mooi tochtje te maken (ik zag de tourders rijden bij Uitdam en Zuiderwoude) — de wegen waren droog, het was bijna nergens glad, onbewolkt, zonnig, en nauwelijks wind. Berijpt landschap, IJmeer en Gouwzee dichtgevroren.

Marcusstraat – Schellingwouderbrug – Durgerdam – Uitdam – Gouwzee – Zuiderwoude – Poppendammer gouw – Ransdorp – Schellingwouderbrug – Ringdijk – Marcusstraat

cycling,nl | January 9, 2009 | 18:52 | Comments Off on 003 / 0109 / 1.50 |

DNK review in Time Out Amsterdam

“Whatever the answer, experimental music doesn’t translate on paper but makes sense with a beer in hand and equally inquisitive music fans eager to talk shop. Best to experience it yourself.”

My favorite musical ‘hang-out’ is reviewed by Colin Delany in Time Out Amsterdam. The text is here:

DNK: Concerts start again next monday, January 12th.

en,free publicity,music | January 5, 2009 | 17:16 | comments (1) |

002 / 0104 / 2.10

Zondagritje. 13.00 – 15.15. Zuidwestenwind. Bewolkt. Het dooide, en flink – op veel plekken was het ijs verdwenen. 5 graden. De motregen begon pas toen ik Amsterdam binnenreed. Ik vond het weer heerlijk fietsweer. Wat helpt: een goede winterfiets; goede winterkleding. Maar ik vermoed dat ik ook gewoon “in vorm” ben.

Marcusstraat – Amstel – Nes – Uithoorn – Vrouwenakker – Molenkade – Nieuwveen – Blokland – De Hoef – Veldweg – Nessersluis – Ouderkerk – Marcusstraat

cycling,nl | January 4, 2009 | 18:56 | Comments Off on 002 / 0104 / 2.10 |

Office-R: Recording the Grain

There’s finally a new CD of Office-R, Recording the Grain, published by the Norwegian label +3db. Office-R is pretty much my favorite band, my favorite music…

Reviews here, or via here (mostly Dutch):


en,free publicity,music,nl | January 4, 2009 | 18:31 | Comments Off on Office-R: Recording the Grain |

001 / 0103 / 1.35

Eerste ritje. (Na 4 dagen Texel – meest onbewolkt, zon, vrieskou, wit van rijp en vrijwel windstil). 15.10 – 16.45. Weinig wind. Bewolkt. Net boven vriespunt. IJs op plassen en sloten. Schaatsers op het Naardermeer. Best lekker fietsweer.

Marcusstraat – Ringdijk – Diemerpark – Muiden – Muiderberg – De Horn – Weesp – Driemond – kanaal – Ringdijk – Marcusstraat

cycling,nl | January 3, 2009 | 18:54 | Comments Off on 001 / 0103 / 1.35 |
« Previous Page
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. | Arie Altena