Termeer is like the train wreck we can see about to happen, there s no avoiding it, we want to look away but can t Termeer is the quintessential narcissist A victim of a childhood in which his father wasn t nurturing and the role models his parents presented as husband and wife, he matures into an adult who believes the world owes him his happiness is not a choice his , but instead what the world presents him He is, he laments, what he is, and the world must accept him, glass seven eighths empty man that he is, as he is It is a role he chooses and in which he takes much pride, always playing the victim Yet the happiness given him, in the guise of a woman who initially loves his aloneness, he manages to sabotage His young wife, Anna, soon gives birth to a daughter only to die at eighteen months Termeer, who felt no love toward the child paying forward the love his father withheld from him , is relieved at this turn of events and is impotent to comfort his grief stricken wife Soon after, she moves his bed into another room and they live apart, speaking less and less to one another, with Termeer withdrawing and into himself Eventually Termeer takes a mistress whom, he is convinced, will provide him the love he so craves Knowing she is taking him only for his money, he plunges headlong into wooing her at all costs Eventually he confronts Anna with divorce, suggesting their marriage is based on lies and falsehoods but his intent is that she take the initiative so that he, again, ends up the victim But Anna resists, intent on performing her duty All of which sets the stage for the tour de force denouement Translated and with an introduction by J M Coetzee, the narrative is written in first person narrative, which lends immediacy to the story A mesmerizing tale brilliantly told and highly recommended.
Mijn Vrouw Is Dood En Al Begraven Ik Ben Alleen In Huis, Alleen Met De Twee Meiden Deze Zinnen Zijn Het Begin Van De Bekentenis Van Willem Termeer Hij Heeft Zijn Vrouw Vermoord In De Vorm Van Een Autobiografie Beschrijft Hij Hoe Hij Tot Deze Afgrijselijke Maar Onafwendbare Daad Is GekomenEen Beklemmende Roman I imagine most reviews of this book will be fairly negative There is nobody to like, no sympathy and it is fairly dense and not exactly a breeze Think something like a less dull Zweig or a less skilled Turgenev This is a descent into the inferno and it won t spoil it to say that it doesn t end well So why bother Wellit s really well written and if you ever wanted to understand the nature of pure misery in a divorce here you go This is a warning against bad marriage It s also a great psychological portrait of a misanthrope that avoids any moralizing that would render this book useless It s not exactly a portrait of a man that finds such a lack of meaning in life that death becomes his distinguishing desire but mostly because there s a lack of certainty to the main character that makes you think Zweig would have thought it for you, led you by your nose, Emants is skilled and while at no time did I generate any mercy for this murderer I was able to clearly understand how a crime of lack of passion could unfold.
A Dutch Underground Man, but nowhere near as scathing and psychologically probing as Dostoevsky s finer work Still, Dutch existentialism has its own nuances, its own rhythms and Coetzee is a masterful translator here Many kudos to NYRB for reprinting this, but, in reality it is best read with the real Underground Man in mind preferably after a long break away from Dostoevsky s text, or as a prefatory primer for virgin readers to the true Underground Man Despite all of his singular and cultural differences, which do make for interesting reading, Emants s narrator, Termeer, is a mere lackey to Dostoevsky s Underground Man, not to mention the Russian writer s masterful and even terse explorations of alienation, misanthropy, and utter annihilation combined with a psychological insight that makes Emants s work, while groundbreaking in its way, read like charcoal sketches held up beside a dizzyingly taut masterpiece.
A chronically miserable misanthrope details his pointless life and terrible crimes in this confessional novel lying somewhere between Dostoevsky and Jim Thompson Why are some men better than others Are we constitutionally equipped for certain behavioral patterns, and if so, does this inborn identity not make a mockery of conventional morality The confessional novel as a subgenre can get tiring pretty quickly, bogging down in endless description of petty grotesques, but Emants manages to pull it off pretty fabulously The writing is lucid is bitter, the questions being asked thoughtful and sincere Really very good, if, obviously, quite grim.
Like reading Notes from Underground, but this narrator is both all talk and bit of bite The ruminations of a dark, angry soul are wild and fascinating, and the narrator never lets up The story is compact, strong, and effective.
When South African Australian Noble Prize winning author J.
M Coetzee takes the trouble to translate a book, there must be something good about it and indeed, A Posthumous Confession by Emants is one of the best Dutch novels I know It is also a very bleak story something it has in common with the oeuvre of Coetzee.
The Dutch writer Marcellus Emants 1848 1923 belonged to the group of writers who came up in the eighties of the 19th c and who modernized Dutch literature for the first 80 years of the century, Dutch literature and for that matter, all of society had been in the deadening, small minded grip of pastors, preachers and grocers That changed in the 1880s, when Holland also underwent a rather belated industrial revolution.
Many of the new authors were influenced by naturalism Zola Emants also admired Turgenev, but A Posthumous Confession has in the first place been influenced by Dostoevsky s Notes from the Underground 1864 It is also very much a fin de si cle novel, encased in a suffocating web of guilt and fear.
The plot is simple When the novel opens, a man of independent means called Termeer has just murdered his wife The novel is his confession of how this came about Termeer is a despicable man, full of self loathing He is pathologically introverted, indolent and unable to take any action, uninterested in society, and without a shred of empathy for his fellow humans.
He feels that everything in his life has gone wrong he had a terrible childhood, as he was treated as an outsider by other children after he grew up, he became very much interested in women, but was to shy to approach them, so he had to satisfy his urge with prostitutes After a particularly wild period, he decides to straighten out his life by marrying He knows no suitable partner, but notices that the man who has been his former guardian has an unmarried daughter This daughter accepts him, as he is the first to propose to her and she is already thirty in the 19th c women were expected to marry.
Although they spend a few quiet years together, the loveless marriage is unhappy, especially after the death of a girl baby Termeer is relieved as he hates children Termeer seeks his pleasure outside the house, he becomes infatuated with a dancing girl and needs money for her upkeep His wife in her turn becomes close friends with their neighbor, a former pastor with a sickly little daughter They have many soulful talks, making Termeer madly jealous He wants to separate and marry the dancing girl, but his wife rejects this she will do her duty to him, she says.
Termeer works himself into a mad frenzy when he happens to notice that in her nervous state his wife has had recourse to a sleeping potion, he pours another bottle of the stuff down her throat The coroner decides it is inadvertent death by an overdose of the potion Here the story ends, but it is a posthumous confession, so what happened to him Did guilt after all overtake him, or was he jilted by his dancing girl and did he kill himself out of spite A Posthumous Confession reminded me somewhat of the early stories of Arthur Schnitzel, where we find the same type of introspection brought about by new notions of psychology It is a pessimistic story, as were most novels by Emants he also wrote interesting travelogues.
I read the Dutch version of the novel which is online here has also written an interesting essay about the novel in his Stranger Shores.
Really a brilliant story Termeer, the narrator, is a twisted man and a troubled one He finds himself a beautiful woman, but instead of finding happiness in his marriage, he discovers it to be a source of self hatred When he becomes caught up in an affair with a woman demanding all his money, he is driven to murder While reading the story I kept questioning What is the self and how does it evade or come to terms with itself I have never read anything from Marcellus Emants before this novel, but he is really close to tradition of Dostoyevsky I loved reading this story and this is one of the greatest quotes Only a fool can be happy For happiness consists of two contradictory elements contentment and pleasure Enjoy pleasure and you have no contentment be content and you have no pleasure For this reason happiness is conceivable only for those who enjoy themselves without thinking that they will always want and thus be discontented, or for those who are content without thinking that they have no pleasure Whoever reflects can never be happy, unless he is a fanatic and thus blinded thus exercising control over his intelligence with his feelings, instead of the other way round