Harry Mulisch: One of the Greatest

Posted on 16. Oct, 2014 by in Literature

When I’ve asked people to tell me who they consider the best Dutch writer to be, Harry Mulisch has been everyone’s answer. Having read his novel The Assault, I understand why.

The Assault, or De Aanslag in its original Dutch title, tells the story of Anton Steenwijk right at the end of the World War II and his life after the war. His family falls victim to an injustice while the Nazi military is still in the Netherlands. Anton tries to forget this tragedy and move on with his life, however, the more he tries to forget, the more destiny forces him to face what happened. As his past visits his present life, Anton discovers what truly happened that night, and he attempts to come to terms with the way his life played out.

There are many stories about World War II and, although I’ve read only a handful, I find this one to be the best one in regards to style. Every story is interesting and unique, and I am particularly fond of memoirs from the Hunger Winter. Although Mulisch’s story is fictional, it is full of the details of the suffering, the hardships of the war, as well as the joy when the country was liberated and the rebuilding process.

Personally, I’ve never lived a war in my home country, and I know that makes me very fortunate. The wars my family has lived have been old old wars. Although it has been many years since World War II, to me it feels recent; it is part of modern history. I am intrigued by the stories of grandparents who survived, who fought against the Nazis, who helped rebuild the country. The Assault is one of those novels that fit together with all the stories I’ve heard and read.

I don’t want to spoil the book for you, so I am including this short clip of the movie version of the book.

Mulisch, H. (1986). The Assault. New York: Pantheon.

How to Say You are Awesome in Dutch

Posted on 09. Oct, 2014 by in Dutch Vocabulary

Everyone has a unique set of eigenschappen or characteristics that make them who they are. This mixture is made up of positief and negatief, all of which is relative to the person in question. Some job interviewers like to ask about these eigenshcappen to test the person interviewed. In these situations, saying you are not punctual or lazy might not be the best idea.

When someone asks you Wat zijn twee positieve eigenschappen van jezelf? You can answer with Ik heb gevoel goed humor or Ik ben heel vrolijk. The following are some of the most common characteristics you might want need:

eerlijk- honest

beleefd- polite

behulpzaam- helpful

sociaal­- social

leergierig- studious

oplossingsgericht­- problem solver

gemotiveerd- motivated

een goede luisteraar- a good listener

geduldig- patient

vastbesloten- determined

vrolijk- happy or cheerful

optimistisch- optimistic

pessimistisch- pessimistic

knorrig- grumpy

gemeen- mean

verantwoordelijk­- responsible

moedig- brave

mededogend- compassionate

meedogenloos - ruthless

creatief- creative

geweldig- awesome

If you are like me, many of these are characteristics you hope to have one day. In that case, you would say ik zou graag sociaal willen zijn or ik zou graag minder knorrig willen zijn.

What are your eigenschappen?

Image by stevendepolo found in Flickr.com

Image by stevendepolo found in Flickr.com

Message in a Bottle

Posted on 01. Oct, 2014 by in News

Image by SergioDJT found in Flickr.com

Image by SergioDJT found in Flickr.com

We’ve all seen movies and heard of stories about messages in a bottle traveling to faraway lands. Well this week a bottle a Dutch sailor sent on 2012 in Kaap Hoorn made its way to the Australian island Macquarie. It is estimated that the fles traveled more than 18,600 kilometers, making from Zuid-Amerika through Antarctica and finally reaching the eiland. There is an address in the bottle making it possible to trace back the sailors who sent the message two years ago. The sailors hoped the bottle would make it to the Atlantic Coast.

If I were to write a message to a long lost loved one, in Dutch of course, I think my message would be something like this:

Mijn liefde,

Mijn leven zonder jou is niet hetzelfde.

Ik denk over je en wil je bij me.

Hoe lang moet je weg zijn?

Ik hoop dat je deze brief ontvangt want jij moet weten dat ik van je hou!

Kom terug alsjeblieft!


 What would your message in a bottle say?

Useful Vocabulary

de brief- the letter

de fles- the bottle

reizen- travel

de liefde- the loved one

houden van- love

haten- hate


ontvangen- receive

terugkomen- come back

het eiland- the island

Kaap Hoorn- Cape Horn