While exposing the remains of Flemish fascism twenty years after the War, Wonder tracks one man's descent into madness. Victor, a bewildered teacher, pursues a mysterious woman to a castle in a remote village. There he finds himself trapped among a handful of desperate individuals still living out their collaboration with the Nazis. As Victor's sanity begins to crumble, he poses as an expert on their messianic leader, who disappeared at the Russian front but whose return they believe imminent. The rich cadences of the prose and dense emotional texture of characters lost in complex moral labyrinths make Wonder a symphony only Claus could have composed.
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
The prose, poetry, and paintings of Hugo Claus (1929-2008) were as influential as they were groundbreaking. His novels include The Sorrow of Belgium, his magnum opus of postwar Europe, as well as Desire, The Swordfish, Mild Destruction, Rumors, and The Duck Hunt. His corpus of poetry is immense and stunningly diverse. Claus's painting led him to become involved in the avant-garde Cobra movement. Impossible to pin down. Claus was eclectic and in constant motion; his work is kaleidoscopic. In addition to receiving every major Dutch-language literary prize, Claus received the 2002 Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding for his body of work.
Michael Henry Heim has translated dozens of novels, plays, and essays from a number of languages. His translations include The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, My Century by Günter Grass, Helping Verbs of the Heart by Péter Esterházy, and Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. He is the recipient of the American Literary Translators Association Prize, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize, and the PEN American Center Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Read an Excerpt
The teacher walked the twenty feet from his room to the elevator in wonder. Waited at the latticework of the cage. Stuck three fingers through the mesh.
(This is a beginning. In the hallway redolent of belladonna. And just as one has a chance of winning the lottery if one buys all the tickets, there is the chance of an end.)
There was no sound but the rumble of the elevator. No, not the shuffle of floral-patterned, rubber-soled slippers along the wine-red runner leading from the gypsy woman’s room to the elevator shaft, expressly, so it seemed, for her tiny, swift, perpetually unwashed feet in those mules with the violets embroidered on them.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
"Wonder" is a European post-war novel that was published in Belgium in 1962, translated from the Dutch into English by Michael Henry Heim, and published by Archipelago Books in 2009. The main character is a schoolteacher in post-war Belgium who attends a masquerade ball, where a woman rejects the advances of a man and mysteriously flings herself into the sea. The teacher, who seems at the edge of madness before this incident, saves the woman, and then accompanies a school boy to the town in which the woman lives, to learn more about her. There he is accused of a crime, and is mistaken for a heinous criminal. The novel jumps back and forth, as the teacher is incarcerated in a building and writes about his daily life in a notebook, while recalling these past events.For me, reading "Wonder" was similar to being spun around in circles on a chair, while trying to identify people and objects around me. I would imagine that fans of post-war European experimental fiction would enjoy this book, but it wasn't my cup of tea.