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Eline Vere Paperback – June 25, 2010
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[H]is sympathy for the hybrid, the impure and the ambiguous gave him a peculiarly modern voice. It is extraordinary that this Dutch dandy, writing in the flowery language of fin-de-siècle decadence, should still sound so fresh. —The New York Review of Books
[A] masterpiece. . . . The Hague's greatest writer, turn-of-the-century Louis Couperus . . . captured the city in a famous novel, Eline Vere. . . . For its roomy, chatty descriptions of life among the moneyed classes, it is a Buddenbrooks avant la lettre; for its restless heroine, trapped by social obligations, it's a Dutch Madame Bovary. . . in Ina Rilke's smart new translation, it anticipates the questions that would become so important for women in the decades to come: no longer content in a purely domestic world, what were they to do with themselves? —Ben Moser, Harper's
Electric. . . . Astounding. . . . A pleasure we've missed for far too long. . . . It has the energy of the great Victorian novels without the melodrama. . . . Couperus is a fine, driving storyteller. He's brilliant. —Michael Pye, The Scotsman
Superb. . . . Couperus handles his many characters with masterly ease and keeps his prose smooth, light, and flowing: Ina Rilke's translation cannot be praised highly enough. . . . With Eline Vere the estimable Archipelago Books continues to make available in English some of the most important works of European literature. —Michael Dirda, The Wall Street Journal
The portrait of their unfolding affair is a masterful observation of the beauty and illogic of romantic love. —Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Ina Rilke translates Dutch, French, and Flemish literature. The writers she has translated include Hafid Bouazza, Hella Haasse, W. F. Hermans, Arthur Japin, Erwin Mortier, Cees Nooteboom, and Dai Sijie. She has won the Vondel Translation Prize, the Scott Moncrieff Prize, and the Flemish Culture Prize for Translation.
Top Customer Reviews
I would rate Eline Vere up there with Nana as well as Madame Bovary. Though the two French novels cynically depict a world of decadence and sensuality, Eline Vere is more quiet and subtle, a novel of sensibility, less erotic and more about the serene moments where below the surface something darker lies.
The plot here is hardly a plot. We are thrown into the world of the van Raats, the van Erlevoorts and Verstraetens and we must begin swimming. Like Zola, Couperus doesn't just introduce us one-by-one to his characters. No, we must get to know them gradually, doing our best to keep up in their society. (This is why when I began reading the novel, I started to write down names and lineages to keep track). This is a close-knit world and at time suffocating. These families all know each other and are part of the upper echelon of The Hague elite in fin-de-siècle Holland.
And then there's Eline. She lives with her sister Betsy and brother-n-law. Sometimes she babysits her nephew Ben. She visits her contacts, she goes to the opera, she falls in love briefly with a tenor. She has the romantic reverie of Flaubert's famous female and yet something different. Whereas Bovary is married and has her affair, giving herself away, Eline has nothing really to throw herself into. She lacks Bovary's eroticism but she isn't boring.Read more ›
For me it goes to the very soul of what we are here.