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'The Discovery of Heaven' Harry Mulisch

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This is a long (730 pages) work of fiction, which is an example of a novel of ideas. It's strong on ideas and plot but rather weak on characterisation. the plot is very intricate.


Synopsis from amazon.co.uk


On a cold night in Holland, Max Delius - a hedonistic, yet brilliant astronomer who loves fast cars, nice clothes and women - picks up Onno Quist, a cerebral chaotic philologist who cannot bear the banalities of everyday life. They are like fire andwater. But when they learn they were conceived on the same day, it is clear that something extraordinary is about to happen. Their worlds become inextricably intertwined, as they embark on a life's journey destined to change the course of human history. A magnum opus that is also a masterful thriller.


I have mixed feelings about this book. The ideas are entertainingly presented, often with sly humour. the author is obviously well read and covers a wide range. Philosophers like Descartes, Spinoza, Hegel, Nieztsche and Camus are mentioned. Areas of theology such as Calvinism, Catholicism and Judaism feature as well. Aspects of architecture and Astronomy are added to the mix.


The early conversations between Max and Onno are witty, the best one being a truncated reenactment of the meeting between Freud and Mahler in Leiden. As the novel progressed I found the humour palled, mainly because Onno became a real pain.


If the plot had been simplified and more effort put into the characters then this would have been a great book. As it stands it I rate it as good.

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You know, I have been thinking about reading this for ages, the author being from my country and all. But I just can't get myself to do it. The Dutch literature I have read I have found notoriously boring, and I have read (for school) some other work of Harry Mulisch, can't remember which one, and found it almost not readable. The plot idea appeals to me, but the rest.. hmm.

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