Eline Vere

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Eline Vere is an novel by the Dutch writer Louis Couperus. The naturalistic novel, first published in a daily newspaper — , instantly established Couperus as a household name in the Netherlands. It has been in print ever since.


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In Dutch, there have been about thirty editions until , two adaptations for the theatre and one for film. Composer Alexander Voormolen dedicated his Nocturne for Eline to the protagonist of the novel. It has been translated into English twice , into Norwegian and into Urdu. After the publication of the translation by Ina Rilke , the book was reviewed in The Scotsman in "Couperus is a fine, driving storyteller even when he's off telling fairy stories in some symbolist landscape as in the rather mimsy Psyche.

He wrote Eline Vere for serialisation, so it has the energy of the great Victorian novels without the melodrama, something astounding spread over careful pages.

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Rediscovered novels usually make you realise why they were lost in the first place, but Eline Vere is an exception: a pleasure we've missed for far too long. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Novel by Louis Couperus. Netherlands Film Festival. Retrieved He only looks like a tabby cat, one more neutered writing male.

Eline Vere - Holland Park Press

He's a "sensitivist", which seems to mean a realist who's heard of impressionism. His early poems were, I regret to say, called "Orchids". He has Yellow Book translators, he wrote fairytales with the same megaphone chic, all dcor and jewels, as Oscar Wilde.


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  • Eline Vere by Louis Couperus;
  • He married, but while his wife was devoted, nobody thinks he was; he was, everyone says, queer. Couperus was called a decadent when that was chic. He wrote the story of the Roman Emperor Heliogabalus, the one who married his gladiator instead of just living in sin, and the book was too shocking for the English.

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    He was a dandy, his occasional overwriting seen as a kind of make-up, a man who went out declaiming his works in small-town halls in a near-soprano voice and fretted mostly about having the right flowers in the right vase in the right place on the stage. His foppishness was a fine performance, but it wasn't the same as Oscar brandishing his lilies on a lecture tour. Couperus's mother was aristocratic, and there's a vein of stone in the books which sometimes breaks surface, a concern for "breeding" and what it does to you, staying "in your own set" where everyone has "the same views on morals and manners".

    He's no Henry James, he's closer to the ruthless social politics in the wonderful Edith Wharton, a writer from a class under threat. Like Wharton, you have to understand: he's the resistance. He was born in Holland, a judge's son, and shipped out to Java until he was He came back filled with horror at all the well-meaning people who kept asking: "Are you going to be a magistrate?

    Or an administrator?

    He didn't do the literary world; he didn't announce a personality and market it, he was famously reticent. And yet there was something in the mix of time in Java and time in the regulated manners of The Hague that produced a powerful personality on the page. He grew up scared of murderers, men with beards, ghosts, dark staircases — and tigers.

    The tigers are the key to the man. Even when he's conjuring Dutch proprieties, all crystal and ruffles and calling cards, he's always aware of something else dark and unexpected, vague enough to be missed, definite enough to kill you. He makes you sense it on your skin as you read.

    Eline Vere

    Sometimes, as in Ecstasy, it's the notion that what we see and do is just a symbol of some truer, hidden life that only a few people know how to live; but Couperus isn't preaching. His high-minded lady is entirely fed up with being high-minded, when what she truly wants is to get magnificently laid. Sometimes, as in The Hidden Force, it's the alien ways in an eastern colony that seem to take a terrible revenge on the colonial bosses; unless, of course, it's entirely the fault of those bosses for standing, ignorantly, in the way of forces they can't even imagine.

    You feel they'd carry on the tea party during a tsunami, because they didn't know the word. The Hidden Force is in dire need of a brilliant new translation, but what we've got in English is already remarkable. A decent, blokish colonial administrator falls apart — decline and fall is Couperus's favourite plot — in a Java he doesn't begin to understand.

    He wants things to be right, not realising which wrong things may be holding together a whole society. He's puzzled by his senses, by his wife's affairs, by the drowning heat, by a sense of corruption, and most of all by the things he cannot see: the tigers in his mind.

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    Then all these otherwordly things turn physical and immediate. His young wife, alone in the bath, is suddenly stippled with bright red juices that are spat out of the air. Stones fly, glasses break.



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