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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Eline Vere Paperback – June 25, 2010

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


The author’s touch is always delicate and sure in handling the lights and shades of thought and emotion. —The New York Times Book Review

[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

Louis Couperus (1863–1923) spent much of his youth in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), and many of his novels and stories are set either there or in The Hague, where he was born, though his work also contains glimpses of Italy, Africa, and China, where he traveled extensively. He gained prominence in 1889 with Eline Vere. His novels The Hidden Force, Old People and the Things That Pass, Ecstasy, and Inevitable are also celebrated. Couperus was the greatest Dutch novelist of his generation.

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 532 pages
  • Publisher: Archipelago (June 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780981955742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981955742
  • ASIN: 0981955746
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.6 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Louis Couperus (1862-1923) was a near contemporary of Emile Zola (1840-1902). He wrote novels that were both psychological and at times, 'naturalist'. Though he wasn't as obsessed with science as the great French novelist of the Rougon-Macquart series, he still could paint a picture and provide his characters and situations with enough realism to make his novels feel true to life.

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.
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This is a classic of Netherlandic ("Dutch" and Flemish) literature. It is not a book that someone in a hurry will like. It sets a mood and it develops the characters slowly. They are well developed but only three of them are somewhat "complex." Eline Vere is complex but she is also a bit inexplicable. In the final analysis it is not altogether clear whether she does what she does for good reasons or for very simplistic reasons. I will not give away the plot, but for anyone interested in the sub-culture of the haute bourgeoisie in Europe, particularly in The Hague, at the turn of the century, this is a book that will get you quite aroused at a deeper level. That does not mean it is sexy in any way. In fact, it is a bit prudish. But it definitely moved me. I bought the English version and compared it to the Dutch version. The translation is good but some of the more subtle aspects of the use of French loans words is skipped over, perhaps unnecessarily (e.g. pendule is translated as "clock" rather than, at the very least, pendulum clock). I was reminded of Anna Karenina to be sure. It also reminded me of English novels, although I am not a great fan of Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters, really. (I suppose I should be.) For anyone who wants a superficial thriller or adventure story, this is not it. But if you are patient and you want to dig deep into the emotions of young people setting out in life in a rigidly stratified haute bourgeois society then you might enjoy this.
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Couperus is here in Holland very well known. He makes life visible with all its conventions around 1900 in the Hague
For me it goes to the very soul of what we are here.
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