Monday, February 7, 2011


Saw this in De Standaard:
Uitgeverij De Bezige Bij brengt op 30 oktober, de eerste sterfdag van schrijver Harry Mulisch, een onvoltooide novelle van zijn hand uit.

Het werk, met de titel De tijd zelf, telt ongeveer dertig pagina's en is volgens uitgever Robert Ammerlaan 'duidelijk onaf'. 'Maar het is een dusdanig literair interessante tekst dat de uitgeverij en de erven het publicabel achten.'

Het is de bedoeling dat iemand een verklarende inleiding of nawoord schrijft. Wie dat zal doen, wordt wellicht volgende maand bekendgemaakt.
De Bezige Bij, de 'best' publishing house in Holland, has on its hands a dead star -- Harry Mulisch. (The Discovery of Heaven is quite masterful, it needs to be said.) Mulisch left one novella unfinished, it seems -- 30 pages and then it stops. No good writerly deed goes unpunished: Hear the rat-tat-tatting of wooden shoes on the cobblestones of the Heeregracht: Here come Harry's heirs, breathlessly delivering the manuscript at the Busy Bee's feet!

No doubt heirs and editor and publisher are motivated by a deep love for literature. How could the world possibly keep on turning without the publication -- paper, cardboard, glue, and a fancy cover design -- of those Final (but unfinalized) 30 Pages from the Master? No, they are so not money-grubbing vulgar accountants with On Their Hands a Dead Star!

There is an easy test to see what this is about.

If it's about literature, if it's really all about Harry and his work, just plunk the damn thing in facsimile on the Web, where we can all read it -- easily done! -- or publish, then donate the proceeds to a worthy cause, preferably one Meneer Mulisch would have liked. Otherwise: Oh, the sickening greed.

This, dear friends, is why I keep all my unpublished writing -- sentences polished or unpolished, notes eager or meager, plots plodding or plotted -- behind walls of encryption, and no-one has the key. If it ain't finished, it ain't finished, and I don't trust nobody, certainly not my future be-Alzheimered self, with what are my bloody (sweaty) words.

(Still, aren't we all going to run to the store to get our hands on Pale King next month? Aren't we?)

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