Cees Nooteboom and his Writing
Part 2 Cees Nooteboom: The Writing
Chapter 4 The Novels: Fictions of Becoming Nooteboom’s English Afterlives The English Nooteboom is first and foremost a novelist: nine novels and a collection of stories have been published in English since his debut in 1983 with Rituals, whereas only a small collection of poems and three travel volumes have appeared in book form. There are also a number of translated poems and stories in periodicals. This chapter aims to give a sense of Nooteboom as a novelist in his English afterlife: the mode and mood of his writing, his distinctive voice and his preoccupations. This reading of Nooteboom’s fiction is constructed in dialogue with other critics and commentators, mainly those who write in English and Dutch. Given that Nooteboom is well-established as a writer of fiction in the English-speaking world and that so many of his novels have appeared in English, in this chapter I base my discussion on the English works alone without comparing them with their Dutch counterparts. I do not assume that translation is transparent and that the English versions are identical with the Dutch ones – rather, I set out to read Nooteboom as he is read by the vast majority of his English readers, that is, without reference to the Dutch texts. On the other hand, I am concerned with the contrast- ing ways in which the texts have been read by others in both languages, and for this reason, I will compare the writer’s reception both in the Netherlands and in England and the...
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