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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 criticism 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 aheartfelt description of that most elusive, difficult, and yet rewarding of human relationships true friendship A highlight of Dutch literature, but a bit uneven in quality The first 400 pages are sublime, especially in the drawing of the love triangle Onno Ada Max Every page is a gem, and the situation sketches sometimes are very ingenious But then the story falters starting with the comatose state of Ada the suspense slips the Bildungsroman that follows around Quinten is quite readable, but the detective story with which the novel ends in the final chapter to me was an anti climax Just like Hugo C A highlight of Dutch literature, but a bit uneven in quality The first 400 pages are sublime, especially in the drawing of the love triangle Onno Ada Max Every page is a gem, and the situation sketches sometimes are very ingenious But then the story falters starting with the comatose state of Ada the suspense slips the Bildungsroman that follows around Quinten is quite readable, but the detective story with which the novel ends in the final chapter to me was an anti climax Just like Hugo Claus the king of Flemish literature , Mulisch the king of literature in the Netherlands seems to lapse into automatisms often pedanticly boasting with his knowledge and insights, often also too verbose and inserting personal experiences in a too obvious way.Nevertheless this is absolutely worth reading 3.5 stars 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 Amste 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 muchentertaining 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 pulverize 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 hadthan 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 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 or 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 muchthan the usual literary fluff found on a bestseller list 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 N 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 revealedof 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 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 fo 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 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 seemedthe 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 thi 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 seemedthe 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.Onereviewer put it best with Mulisch, pedant writes a book I wish there was some way I could get all the time I invested in this ridiculous masturbation session of a novel back Wasted almost two weeks of my summer attempting to wade through this self aggrandizing mess of a story and am so annoyed There are few books I start and fail to finish, but this book tested my limits like none before I made it through about 500 pages before realizing that the story wasn t building up to ANYTHING, and that there were entire chapters that were simply vehicles I wish there was some way I could get all the time I invested in this ridiculous masturbation session of a novel back Wasted almost two weeks of my summer attempting to wade through this self aggrandizing mess of a story and am so annoyed There are few books I start and fail to finish, but this book tested my limits like none before I made it through about 500 pages before realizing that the story wasn t building up to ANYTHING, and that there were entire chapters that were simply vehicles for Mulisch to show off his entirely useless knowledge of random arcana I would skip entire chapters because I was so bored and impatient, and would then force myself to go back and read them just for the sake of being thorough lo and behold, I found that I had missed nothing, and instead had LOST a precious 20 minutes of my life I m all for weaving large swaths of religious, political, and musical knowledge into a narrative, but it has to be done in a compelling way see Foucalt s Pendulum as a great example but the story here is so slow and pointless that it actually hurts my head just to think about.Max and Onno s friendship was fun for the first few hundred pages before really strange circumstances forced them into peculiar familial roles, and while I m ambivalent about Onno his inflated self ego is oftentimes annoying but has its endearing moments , I absolutely loved the character of Max But again, the horrendously uninteresting narrative gives him nothing to do, and after he s unceremoniously removed from the story 3 4 of the way through, there s literally nothing left in the novel that makes it worth slogging through An absolute disappointment `DOWNLOAD EPUB ☃ The Discovery of Heaven ⇜ 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