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Evelyn Grill’s «The Antwerp Testament»

Translated and with an Afterword by Jean M. Snook


Jean M. Snook

The Antwerp Testament is Evelyn Grill’s longest book to date and her most complex. It shows those who were damaged and dislocated by World War II rebuilding their lives on two continents. The male protagonist, Ulrich, a German who was seriously wounded in the war, has the misfortune of marrying into a British family that practices psychological warfare. But the sinister plots devised by humans pale in comparison to the bitter blows dealt by fate. Rife with irony, replete with doubling, this cleverly constructed novel will occupy your thoughts for a long time after you have finished reading it. Despite dire events, the novel is not devoid of humor. Grill has fun with it, right down to the leitmotivs: white lilies and yellow roses. The theme of correspondence runs through the novel. It is the topic of Ulrich’s lengthy doctoral dissertation, and the means through which he keeps in touch with friends and relatives who fled Nazi Germany and settled in Toronto and New York, the means through which their stories continue. By coincidence, and correspondence, the translator knew and remained in contact with the main character for 34 years.

List of Illustrations in the Afterword – Worthing Seafront 1983: Poor Harry – New York 1951: Lilly – Worthing 1950: Ann – New York 1953: Lilly – London 1954: The Savoy Hotel – Antwerp 1954: Henriette Stanley – Worthing/The Black Forest 1975: David – Worthing 1984: Ulrich – Afterword – Acknowledgments.