- Post Series on De Aanslag: History and Time in The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- The Time Capsule: An Introduction to the Concept of History in The Assault
- A Summary of The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Structure and Narration in The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- The Five Forms of Time in the Historical Novel The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Time Stands Still: The Petrifaction of Anton’s World in The Assault
- The Changing Past: The Assault Is the History of an Incident
- Causality and Coincidence in History, Historical Fiction and in The Assault
- History Changes, Then Solidifies in Historical Fiction, As in The Assault
- Familiar Imagery from Dutch History, Culture and Politics in The Assault
- Time Eternal in The Assault: Events Put in a Larger, Timeless Perspective
De aanslag / The Assault by Harry Mulisch is a historical novel par excellence. It’s historical fiction, it’s meta fiction about history and writing about history, and Mulisch has incorporated historical events and people so realistically that some Belgian television people came looking for the exact location of the assault.
(05-02-2014, updated 07-25-2018) The following posts are a breakdown of a paper I wrote in graduate school for a class about historical novels on The Assault (De aanslag), a novel by my favorite Dutch author, Harry Mulisch. It’s not for everyone, but I feel that it will help make this novel–one of Mulisch’s best–more accessible to English-language readers.
The series is titled “History and Time in The Assault by Harry Mulisch“. It discusses Mulisch’s different uses of time and history in De aanslag, while examining structure, narration and Mulisch’s ideas about time, history and fiction.
If you’re not familiar with the situation in the Netherlands in WWII, I recommend that you start with reading my series of posts about it, which begins here.
Unless mentioned otherwise, the quotes are taken from The Assault by Harry Mulisch, translated by Claire Nicolas White (New York: Random House, 1985). The translation of other Dutch quotes are mine.
I couldn’t figure out how to get hover notes in the text with Markdown, so numbers between parentheses: (20) refer to footnotes at the bottom of each post. Note the difference between these references and the references to pages in the novel itself: (p. 20).
If you’re interested in reading The Assault by Harry Mulisch, you could buy it now and read it while following these posts, but I have to warn you: there are quite a few translation oddities. I correct some of the translation slip-ups as they come up in quotes, but I won’t make a complete list of them, with the correct translations, until the end. If you read the book without any corrections, there are several things that at least won’t make sense, and at worst will cause you to miss vital connections and references. [That was in 2014. I still haven’t made the list of corrections. I had completely forgotten. Maybe I’ll do it soon. But by now I know better than to promise firmly — and I’m writing my own book now.]
Click here for part 1 on this series about De aanslag.
This post was first published on the blog Resident Alien: Being Dutch in America, under the title: “Stay Tuned For The Assault”.
This post is the introduction (and Part 1) to the series.