The tinkering with time and events in The Assault (see the previous post) leads us to what Harry Mulisch calls 'time eternal' -- the elements in his writing which put the historical events into a larger, more timeless perspective.
Imagery of iconic people and events from Dutch history are interwoven in The Assault, as well as --then--current events. Two novels about resistance fighters, both based on true stories, had just been made into movies. Mulisch uses some of their most memorable images.
It has been argued that The Assault is not real historical fiction, since many of the events are determined by accident; however, this view denies that history is, in fact, a combination of causality and coincidence.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch represents clearly two of the author's recurring themes: petrifaction and isolation. Everyone is alone in his own present. As long as he touches nothing, he is surrounded by the past, while he, in turn, is history to everyone else.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is structured as a Greek tragedy. At this level the novel is a timeless epic. The element of time plays an important role in most of Mulisch's work. To him, a writer deals with time in many different ways.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is structured like a Greek tragedy. Apart from the five episodes, it also has a prologue and epilogue, and Mulisch himself has commented on the exodus at the end, and the choir.
The Assault by Harry Mulisch is divided into five episodes, covering a time span of thirty-six years, in which the protagonist Anton Steenwijk, suffers the violence and guilt of the German occupation of the Netherlands. The following is a brief summary.
In the winter of 1944-45, Anton reads a magazine article about a time capsule buried in 1938, to be unearthed six thousand years later. There's a lesson about history in the description of the contents of the capsule and what the reader knows about the events since 1938.
A rather random list of books and movies about slavery, I know, but It's my list. If you want a longer list, google it.