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Time Eternal in The Assault: Events Put in a Larger, Timeless Perspective

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 ... Read More
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Familiar Imagery from Dutch History, Culture and Politics in The Assault

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 ... Read More
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History Changes, Then Solidifies in Historical Fiction, As in The Assault

To Harry Mulisch, history is a matter of selection (what is remembered, recorded and by whom) and reduction (what is deemed worth preserving). Ultimately, what remains of history -- what makes it permanent -- is historical fiction ... Read More
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Causality and Coincidence in History, Historical Fiction and in The Assault

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 ... Read More
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The Changing Past: The Assault Is the History of an Incident

The narrator in The Assault by Harry Mulisch mentions that this is the history of an incident". Not history, consisting of a series of incidents will be described, but the history of an incident--an incident that changes over time.  ... Read More
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Time Stands Still: The Petrifaction of Anton’s World in The Assault

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 ... Read More
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The Five Forms of Time in the Historical Novel The Assault by Harry Mulisch

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 ... Read More
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Structure and Narration in The Assault by Harry Mulisch

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 ... Read More
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A Summary of The Assault by Harry Mulisch

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 ... Read More
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The Time Capsule: An Introduction to the Concept of History in The Assault

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 ... Read More
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Post Series on De Aanslag: History and Time in The Assault by Harry Mulisch

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.  ... Read More
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Paquette and the Nazis: or: Books and Babies, the Stuff of Nightmares

A random writing prompt: Write about being locked in a room with your greatest fear. I was reading The Hunchback of the Notre Dame while staying at my in-laws' with our baby. The nightmares I had from empathizing with Paquette were like being locked in a room with my greatest fear, I suppose ... Read More