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Massively overrated A decent book, but it fails miserably at what it aims to do be a major philosophical, historical and literary work It s quasi intellectualism probably speaks to many people who know a little about philosophy, history and art, but not too much They can hold Mulisch in awe all they want, but that doesn t change the fact that this book is actually much shallow than people think it is All the name dropping, the forced plot twists and cardboard characters, the overly obvious symbolism, the pushy metaphysics it s all shallow nonsense Form and no content, show but no story, tricks by a mediocre author who thrives on the ignorance of the quasi intellectual reader.Sorry to say it, but if you want to read a decent, intelligent book, turn to Hermans, Bordewijk, Nooteboom or Brouwers Not Mulisch. No mere summary could cover the depths to be found within this novel Trying to summarize it would not give justice to it s brilliance and complexity It is not a book to be taken lightly as it requires time to be set aside for it You will need to want to be challenged as well as entertained before beginning this book At only 730 pages it still took me three weeks and some odd days to read Not because it was slow and boring, but because it often distracted me enough to put the book down in order to go wander around thinking about something that arose from the dialogue within.This is a beautiful tale of friendship and family delivered in the midst of ideas Ideas of an epic scale The discussions are everywhere science, religion, politics, architecture, family, linguistics, art, music, and almost everything else that you will find in a full and rich life There are many philosophical, as well as meta physical, tangents that spring up in almost every conversation Converstions that are intelligent, diverse, probing, witty, and often complicated My only complaint is that at times I would feel that the main character, Onno, liked to talk just a little too much The overarching plot, that wraps around the story of our characters, deals with a conversation between two angels in which a subordinate, tasked with having the Ten Commandments returned to Heaven, is explaining his reasoning behind actions that result in certain coincidences that affects the fate of each character involved in order to lead up to the conclusion at the end Human knowledge frightens and appalls the divine, and actually threatens their superiority so something must be done Kudos for Mulisch for writing such a masterpiece that is so much than the usual literary fluff found on a bestseller list. Before starting this review, I went back and looked at what other books I ve dismissed with a single star Very few, it turns out I m reluctant to be so disparaging unless the book has been deeply unpleasant to read and I wish that I had not had the experience of reading it So, yes, that s right, Twilight gets two stars and this gets one Isn t that a statement I had high expectations I was thrilled to find that the previous reader of my copy had left a Dutch train ticket Middelburg to Amsterdam, second class in the book as a bookmark How charming is that The ticket is old enough that the price is in guilders rather than Euros This book is meant to be the Dutch novel How very intriguing, thought I I m Dutch, so I should certainly familiarize myself with this exhilarating, magnificent, and dangerous Times Literary Supplement work, called one of the most entertaining and profound philosophical novels ever written Washington Post No and no This book is a mess First, my structural complaints There is a frame story wherein two angelic beings discuss their interference in human affairs This conversation is so unutterably awkward and contrived that I nearly gave up immediately I have rarely seen such a strange combination of barefaced expository dialogue with complete lack of content Angel 1 lectures angel 2 on what they obviously both already know without enlightening the reader on anything that will give us a hook into this story that is about to unfold The story itself is meant to be narrated by one of the angels in the first person The first sentence of Chapter 1 makes this clear At the stroke of midnight I contrived a short circuit After this one sentence, the reader is dropped into a shifting third person narrative that switches between the central characters and does all the things we would expect from a typical third person narrative form deeply woven internal thought processes as the characters ponder their circumstances and work through their anxieties There s no angelic commentary or even the remotest hint of an angelic perspective in the narrative, so essentially the frame story completely falls away during these hundreds of pages long sections of human goings on We get a brief interlude for the angels to check in at page 195, where they briefly digress about Francis Bacon, and then the next insertion of the frame story is on page 547, where they actually say the following I thought we were never going to get here. I told you at the outset that the mission had been accomplished, hadn t I It s probably because of your compelling narrative That s inevitable with a good story you don t experience it as a report in retrospect it happens in the telling, as it were.Please It s like your editor called you and pointed out the structural problems in your novel and you decided to explain them away by congratulating yourself in the narrative persona of an angel, no less for being so incredibly compelling as a storyteller that the reader is likely to forget that this is all supposed to be an angel reporting his work to a superior What can I do, I m just so amaaazing It s an angel thing, just go with it, okay I bet Mulisch s editor was a woman, and that 1 he wanted to sleep with her and 2 he never listened to a single thing she said Because here is my second major problem with this mess of a novel The casual, backhanded misogyny pervasive over the entire course of the book is almost breathtaking It starts with the angels, who are clearly predisposed to focus on the males in their plot The problem was that if he was to be our envoy, he would have to remember the mission, once he was in a body of flesh and blood that is, he would have to be capable of hitting on the outrageous idea and, further, have the strength of will and courage to execute it I say he because it didn t seem a job for a she Well, thanks Whatever, moving on to the characters within this mess of a plot Max and Onno, two men, hold the central relationship in the story Ada, the woman they encounter who later births the all important child that will fulfill the mysterious angelic purpose, is given no agency in the story Her role is to receive both men s wisdom and sperm , patiently endure their bizarre lifestyles, and then slip conveniently into a coma for the remainder of the story Meanwhile, Max sleeps with everything in skirts almost as though he can t help it it s just a gift he has, right All women want to sleep with him, and he just knows it, and the women know he knows it and just can t help themselves Sure.And then just a few other pet peeves 1 The long philosophical conversations that are supposedly so profound Aren t In fact, they often devolve into syllogistic jokes that are neither interesting nor meaningful to the story It s just irritating 2 The Phaistos disc Don t tease, Mulisch I thought you were going to take that somewhere anywhere But no What a waste.3 What was with the sudden switch up for the past 150 or so pages Suddenly I was reading something uncannily like The Da Vinci code Honestly, I would rather have been reading The Da Vinci Code It was much entertaining But I m keeping the train ticket. An ambitious book Intending to cover EVERYTHING So the main characters are all polymaths, well read but otherwise shallow, symbols really And they re male too Oh, there are females characters, but they conceive and then get felled by a lightning struck tree or they sneak in a younger man s bedroom and then leave in the morning without speaking Although, in gender fairness, a male can be sitting, about to uncover the secret to the universe, and a meteorite comes out of the sky and pulverizes him Sorry, I m just bitter because the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday clinched their record setting 20th consecutive losing season And then there s the whole Ryder Cup thing.This book had than a few wonderful moments A father asks his son, Do you believe in God, Quinten Never thought about it What about you This morphs into a perfect comparison of two similar sentences, defining the difference between an agnostic I don t believe that God exists and an atheist I believe that God does not exist Never quite thought about it that simply.Ultimately, I thought the plot couldn t keep up with the lofty ambition of the book.They go searching, searching, searching for the true, the only answer, the key to unlock it all It s drumroll, please , the, uh, Ark of the Covenant, and the Ten Commandments Raiders of the Lost Ark but without the whip and the snakes But, c mon The whip and the snakes were the best part. I briefly toyed with giving this two stars, given the degree of difficulty Mulisch takes on in this tome I settled on 1 star because the book pissed me off in so many ways There were the glaring errors begging for a decent editor e.g., the claim that 60 million Jews were killed in WWII, which appears in multiple editions There was the didactic, pedantic explanation of basic science concepts, including those peripheral to the story There was the stasis in which the characters were frozen for the first 600 or so pages, apparently incapable of development despite the passage of decades There was the clumsy conceit of a ridiculously labyrinthine plot and the justification via an angel cum narrator that it was so because the angel i.e., the author could make it so this was interesting in Shakespeare s Tempest here it is just tiresome There were the many plot devices that are just so precious, like the number chosen as the tattoo on on Auschwitz victim s arm 31415 for the mother of a mathematician And there are the characters Max is beautiful, broken, and relentlessly solipsistic Anno is rich, carelessly amoral, and when his entitlement fails, he withdraws from the world like a spoiled child who whines that he is taking his ball and leaving when the game does not go his way the women are one dimensional and mute, contributing to the narrative primarily as sexual partners Worse, the purported theme of this overlong ramble is God s disaffection with his creation, and in the end amounts as well to taking his ball and leaving Throw in recurring misogyny, confused philosophy with tautological conclusions, and other crimes against language, and you can see why this book escaped my did not finish only because I was reading it for a book club discussion. Ok, so I was incredibly excited to read this book It s one of those books I ve put off for a couple of years to savour the excitement I began reading and was immediately disappointed with the contrived and forcefully formal dialectic and narrative in both the prologue between two overtly sexist angels and chapter one I decided to try and round off these two factors formality and sexism as perhaps character traits which would blend into a narrative and become either criticised or mocked Nope.The angels philosophical discussion was not only basic but again, awkward One angel asked the other about a subject, the other angel acknowledged they knew about the subject, and yet the former angel proceeded to tell the other all about the subject in great detail as if the other angel was totally ignorant of the subject It would be like me turning to my partner and saying Do you know why the sky is blue Partner Yes, I do know why the sky is blue Me The sky is blue because enters a long winded monologue explaining why the sky is blue What was this angelic dialogue for other than for the author to show off their supposed intellectualism and force feed both angel and reader information both already know in this uncomfortably contrived dialogue Then the main narrative began, which was apparently narrated by one of the angels, but the narrative wasn t any different from any other third person omniscient narrator than in any other novel The first chapter s formality grated me as much as the prologue did It was written in a weirdly stereotyped way of this is how posh and rich people talk according to someone who had never heard the upper class speak It was painfully formal for a novel set in the middle of the twentieth century, with the author shoe horning in philosophical trivia as though they were ground breaking nuggets to his clearly under educated, philistine readers All of this happening with an incredibly bland and meaningless plot which didn t engage me I didn t know why I was supposed to care about these characters or be interested in their lives at all.When I hit around 80 pages, I turned to Goodreads to read other reviews I must be missing something, I thought Surely I m overlooking some groundbreaking writing and philosophy which warranted this novel s over 4 star rating It was through my curious scan through Goodreads that I came across those scathing but eloquent bad reviews which revealed of the unfolding plot and oh my gosh, I refuse to read such a car crash of a novel What a ridiculous, childish, genre confused mess this novel is about to unfold into I refuse to engage and waste my life on a 700 page book which 1 continues to be blatantly misogynistic 2 lacks the promised philosophical exploration and extrapolation and3 has such a ridiculous plot and ending How naive and undeserving of my time.Call me a snob, I do not care You can t write a book about everything, and it seems as though this is what the author did and did so badly The writing isn t engaging enough for me to battle through I d rather read a less contrived and non pseudo intellectual novel which isn t focussed and driven by the author s literary masturbation I ceased my interest in reading on page 96 Life is too short. 730 pages of time that I will never have back.Not only was the book pretentious, it was also poorly written Perhaps the translation is to blame, as I read it in English Whatever the source, the English text was choppy, un inventive, repetitive, and clich Mulisch s overuse of similes is nauseating.The dialogue was also suspect Instead of realistic, it seemed the types of smart retort one thinks of only after an argument has concluded.I m at a loss as to what other reviewers see in this book Hopefully it works better in the original Dutch.One reviewer put it best with Mulisch, pedant writes a book. What a magnificent book Despite the hubris of Mulisch in incorporating large swatches of his autobiography into the fabric of this literary counterpane, he uses those elements well to contribute to the coherent pattern of the work This is a novel of ideas, which is also an engaging narrative filled with humor For those readers willing to work their way through the 730 pages, the reward will be worth the time spent, and the time spent will be the reward The book provides devastating criticisms of religion, politics, and the to hell in a handbasket trajectory of humanity It also provides touching and sometimes breathtaking appreciations of the human creations of music, architecture, and science, as well as of the innately human curiosity and inventiveness which have given rise to them The author adopts a gnostic worldview for the structure of the novel s argument, and those who are unfamiliar with the basics of gnosticism may be a bit confused, but it works rather well even with the somewhat heavy handed dialogues in heaven There is, of course, always the danger that when a writer uses religiomythological elements metaphorically his intent will be misunderstood by those still limited by a superstitious worldview Finally, not since Gilgamesh has there been a heartfelt description of that most elusive, difficult, and yet rewarding of human relationships true friendship. Het enige voordeel dat het boek heeft, is dat het snel uitgelezen is Maar mocht die stapel papier veroorzaakt zijn door een andere schrijver dan Mulisch in een ander taalgebied dat het onze, er zou niets meer van overblijven.Gekunsteld, hoogdravend, houterig, breedsprakerig, betweterig, Magnum Opus my ass De arrogantie van Mulisch kijk eens hoe veel ik weet zie eens hoe handig ik een filosofische roman met een psychologische roman met een sleutelroman met een avonturenroman verweef 65 hoofdstukken is het iemand al opgevallen dat ik dit jaar precies 65 ben lijk ik zo niet een beetje op Dante druipt van elke pagina af Officier in de Orde van Oranje Nassau indeed Zilveren Erepenning van de Stad Amsterdam, t is wat.Het plot is achterlijk lees gerust maar de samenvatting na , zelfs de onderdelen hebben een kinderachtige naam het begin van het begin , het einde van het begin , het begin van het einde en wait for it, wait for it het einde van het einde De driehoek Onno Ada Max is ongeloofwaardig, het hele hoofdstuk Cuba is van een aan het onwaarschijnlijke grenzende saaiheid, deel twee einde van het begin dus is bij nader inzien compleet overbodig, wellicht was de situatie rond Ada in deel drie nuttig maar ik zou niet weten waarom, de jonge Quinten is een karikaturale non persoon, de iets oudere Quinten een etter van een non persoon, en de hele ontknoping leest als Umberto Eco maar dan in zeer dunne spoeling En als men in het woordenboek naar une fin en queue de poisson gaat kijken, staat daar een hyperlink naar het einde van De ontdekking van de Hemel het einde van het einde van het einde , als het ware, ha ha.Om nog niet te spreken van de hele pseudo wetenschappelijke klaptrap Mulisch zou niet nalaten te vertellen dat dit een anglicisme is, dat het oorspronkelijke woord, claptrap, in 1799 voor het eerst gebruikt werd en zoveel betekent als pretentieuze nonsens ontcijfering van het etruskisch De discos van Phaistos Quasars DNA Kijk eens hoe eclectisch mijn kennis Mulisch denkt zich duidelijk zowel thuis te voelen in gevoelens en persoonlijkheden als in wetenschap en filosofie, maar helaas in het lichtere werk het begin van het begin van het begin klinkt alles gekunsteld en geforceerd, in de wetenschap laat hij steken vallen met de discos van Phaistos als voorbeeld , in de grote idee n is hij ondraaglijk hoogdravend, en op het einde van het boek weet de lezer niets meer over de personages dan in het begin.Niet dat het die lezer dan nog wat kan schelen, want alvast mijn interesse was hij al lang voor het einde kwijt.Afrader Laten liggen Lees Use Of Weapons of, als het echt moet, nog maar eens The Name of the Rose in de plaats. `Ebook ↴ De ontdekking van de hemel ⇜ The Discovery Of Heaven Begins With The Meeting Of Onno And Max, Two Complicated Individuals Whom Fate Has Mysteriously And Magically Brought Together, They Share Responsibility For The Birth Of A Remarkable And Radiant Boy Who Embarks On A Mandated Quest That Takes The Reader All Over Europe And To The Land Where All Such Quests Begin And End Abounding In Philosophical, Psychological And Theological Inquiries Yet Laced With Humour That Is As Infectious As It Is Wilful The Discovery Of Heaven Convinces Us That It Just Might Be Possible To Bring Order Into The Chaos Of The World Through A Story