- Taschenbuch: 736 Seiten
- Verlag: Penguin (27. Januar 2011)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0241953200
- ISBN-13: 978-0241953204
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 12,9 x 3,1 x 19,8 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 1 Kundenrezension
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 42.985 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
The Discovery of Heaven (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 27. Januar 2011
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The internationally-renowned author of The Assault delivers a rich mosaic of 20th-century trauma in which many themes--loyalty, friendship, family, art, fate, good and evil--suffuse a suspenseful and resplendent narrative.
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And then there are those who take The Discovery of Heaven ever so seriously. Does any reader sincerely contend that this book - metaphysically speaking, which I don't like to do - has brought them any closer to some extraterrestrial heaven? Answer: Yes, there seemingly are such readers, especially amongst the "professional" reviewers, and I do have to concur that Quenten's quest, attempting to execute the "SOMNIUM QUENTI," might, at first blush, seem a tad Dan Brownish towards the end. But please heed Onno's voice in all their conversations during these sections. It resembles nothing so much as an erudite man such as Mulisch teasing and debunking a charlatan such as Brown, only putting up with him because, in this case, Quenten is his son, in name anyway.
Of course, there is a downside to a book that is purely cerebrally ludic in nature; there are no emotional depths to the work or emotionally binding characters to ensorcell the reader and transcendently move him/her. But, perhaps, if the novel has a point, this is it: As Onno puts it, "No one did anything anymore; everybody simply talked about the way something ought to be done." Doesn't this sound familiar to the modern reader?
So, a very fun, pleasant, idyllic book with which to while away (in my case) a week's time, with very important ideas no doubt which I ought to take more seriously. But not even the angels do that!
The relationship between Onno and Max that develops during the first section pulled me in, and I enjoyed the witty repartee and intellectual jousting and theorizing. I looked forward to seeing where this relationship would take me. Certainly, there's plenty of build-up, in the form of angels hinting about the cosmic significance of their machinations through these characters--a device I didn't particularly like or feel added anything to the book's effect.
There are novels that are primarily plot-driven, others that present some very memorable characters, and some that display an unusual facility with language itself. It's nice to have all three, but I'm not sure you can have a really successful novel without having at least one element that's outstanding. I found this one to include a couple of interesting characters, a vague plot that promises more than it delivers, and little in the way of style, although some of that may have been lost in translation.
There was not enough of any of these to sustain my enthusiasm through the book's length, and I found finishing the second half a grind--not so onerous and without its attractions that I didn't finish, but it took continual effort. Once the Max/Onno relationship matures, the pace and interest slow considerably. Mulisch clearly has an active mind and is very well-read, and he led me to ponder many fascinating ideas and apparent paradoxes (he's really into paradoxes), but most of these had little to do with the story itself or the significance of it; it's as though he just stuffs into the novel every intriguing idea he ever thought about. They are primarily window dressing, made part of the personalities of the two bantering main characters, who are continually going off on intellectual tangents. These tangents are also superficial; you read them and think, "That's interesting, I'll have to mention that to my friends," and then he moves on to some other similar diversion in the course of telling the story.
Ultimately, after all of this cleverness, I was surprised to find Mulisch didn't seem to have very much to say in the story itself; although presented as a profound philosophical novel, I didn't find it any more so than, say, The Da Vinci Code. After the first several hundred pages, the plot meanders towards the conclusion for which we wait, and wait. I won't disclose the ending other than to say that I didn't feel after 730 pages that I had been shown some new insight into human nature, or the nature of the universe, etc. In fact, it seemed a bizarre and confusing cop-out, coming after so long a wind-up; a long, drawn-out story to little ultimate effect. But I'd still be interested in reading another of his novels--albeit maybe a shorter one, because Mulisch does have an interesting mind.
The inevitability or fated conclusion that drives the narrative of this novel reminds me very much of 'A Prayer for Owen Meany'. I'd have to say - at this moment - that this is the better of the two books, and that is very high praise indeed. I believe that Mulisch's story just flows a little better; at times I find Irving too contrived, with too much of an agenda. Perhaps Irving is a little stronger in developing nuances of character. In any case, if you liked Owen Meany, you will likely enjoy this book, and vice versa: fans of this book should give Owen Meany a try.
In some ways the ending of 'Discovery' was disappointing, in the same way that Irving can be. Both Irving and Mulisch are masterful storytellers, but there is not really that much insight from a spiritual, philosophical or existential perspective. Really more clever sophistry. One will not find here, the mimetic quality and insight of a Hardy, Tolstoy or Chekhov. Not to say that Mulisch is inferior to the canonized, just different. (And not to say he is not inferior). Still, the insight from a historical and socio-political perspective into post-modern life as it currently stands is considerable.
If you consider the novel apart from the brief explanatory metaphysical prologues, you are left with a very engaging story of 3 generations of characters trying to find some sense against the backdrop of some of the main events of the post-modern era. Mulisch vividly re-creates Cuba and Holland in the 60s and in the 80s, as well as our ongoing Holocaust hangover. Reliving these events through the lives of Mulisch's fascinating characters provides many pleasurable hours of reading. And the narrative is driven by a rapturous wonder at where the book is going, at how it will end. Instead of a "who-done-it?", it's more of a "why-is-it?".
Please don't let my reservations about the ending deter you from reading this wonderful novel. I think the book builds some grand expectations that simply can't be met at a deep level, but all the same, there are quite a few thrilling turns in the last pages of the novel.
Although generally 700 pages is much too long for a modern novel, this book is a notable exception.
Finally, a word about the reviews accusing Mulisch of misogyny. These formula attacks on various review sites are becoming as annoying as a Slammer worm; perhaps a rogue computer somewhere is assembling them. It is disingenuous, to say the least, to pass off the views and conversations of a novel's characters as either the viewpoint of the novel or of its author. Readers should be more concerned about Mulisch's slams against the province of Drenthe, "the Siberia of the Netherlands", according to Max. Perhaps unkind to Siberia also. (I was born near Drenthe in southern Groningen, and still have family there).
PS "A Man" IS a good book (if you can find it)