Harry Mulisch (born July 29, 1927) is a Dutch author. Along with W.F. Hermans and Gerard Reve, he is considered one of the "Great Three" of Dutch postwar literature. He has written novels, plays, essays, poems, and philosophical reflections.
Mulisch was born in Haarlem
and has been living in Amsterdam
since 1958, after the death of his father in 1957. Mulisch's father was from Austria-Hungary
and emigrated to the Netherlands after the First World War. During the German occupation in World War II
he worked for a German bank, which also dealt with confiscated Jewish assets. His mother, Alice Schwarz, was Jewish
. Mulisch and his mother escaped transport to a concentration camp
thanks to Mulisch's father's collaboration with the Nazis
. Due to the curious nature of his parents' positions, Mulisch has claimed that he is
the Second World War
. Mulisch was mostly raised by his parent's housemaid, Frieda Falk.
Themes in his work
A frequent theme in his work is the Second World War. His father had worked for the Germans during the war and went to prison for three years afterwards. As the war encompassed most of Mulisch' puberty, it had a defining influence on his life and work. In 1963, he wrote a non-fiction work about the Eichmann
case: The case 40/61
. Major works set against the backdrop of the Second World War are De Aanslag
, Het stenen bruidsbed
, and Siegfried
Additionally, Mulisch often incorporates ancient legends or myths in his writings, drawing on Greek mythology (e.g. in De Elementen), Jewish mysticism (in De ontdekking van de Hemel and De Procedure), well-known urban legends and politics (Mulisch is politically left-wing, notably defending Fidel Castro since the Cuban revolution). Mulisch is widely read and (according to his critics) often flaunts his philosophical and even scientific knowledge.
Mulisch gained international recognition with the movie De Aanslag (The Assault), (1986) which was based on his eponymous book. It received an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best foreign movie and has been translated in more than twenty languages.
His novel De ontdekking van de Hemel (1992) was filmed in 2001 as The Discovery of Heaven by Jeroen Krabbé, starring Stephen Fry.
Amongst many awards he has received for individual works and his total body of work, the most important is the Prijs der Nederlandse Letteren (Prize of Dutch Literature'', an official lifetime achievement award) in 1995.
- Archibald Strohalm (1952; novel)
- Tussen hamer en aambeeld ("Between hammer and anvil", 1952; novella)
- Chantage op het leven ("Blackmail on life", 1953; short story)
- De Diamant ("The Diamond", 1954; novel)
- De Sprong der Paarden en de Zoete Zee ("The Jump of Horses and the Sweet Sea", 1955; novel)
- Het mirakel ("The miracle", 1955; short stories)
- Het Zwarte licht ("The Black Light", 1957; novel)
- Manifesten ("Manifestos", 1958; essays)
- Het Stenen Bruidsbed ("The Stone Bridal Bed", (1959; novel)
- Tanchelijn (1960; play)
- De knop ("The button", 1961; play)
- Voer voor Psychologen ("Food for psychologists", 1961; autobiography)
- Wenken voor de bescherming van uw gezin en uzelf, tijdens de Jongste Dag ("Hints for the protection of your family and yourself, during the Youngest Day"), 1961; essays)
- De Zaak 40/61 ("Case 40/61", 1963; report on the Eichmann trial)'
- Bericht aan de Rattenkoning ("Message to the Rats' King", 1966; essay on the students' revolts in Amsterdam in the 1960s)
- Wenken voor de Jongste Dag ("Hints for the Youngest Day", 1967; essays)
- Het woord bij de daad ("The word added to the deed", 1968; essays)
- Reconstructie ("Reconstruction", 1969; essays)
- Paralipomena Orphica ("Paralipomena Orphica", 1970; essays)
- De Verteller ("The Narrator", 1970; novel)
- De Verteller verteld: Kommentaar, Katalogus, Kuriosa en een Katastrofestuk ("The Narrator being narrated: Comments, Catalogue, Curiosities and a Piece of Catastrophe, 1971; essay on The Narrator)
- De toekomst van gisteren ("Yesterday's future", 1972; essay on a book the author cannot write)
- Oidipous Oidipous (1972; play)
- Woorden, woorden, woorden ("Words, words, words", 1973; poetry)
- De vogels ("The Birds", 1974; poetry)
- Mijn Getijdenboek ("The book of my tidings") (1975; autobiography)
- Tegenlicht (1975; poetry)
- Kind en Kraai (1975; poetry)
- Twee Vrouwen ("Two Women", 1975; novel) (filmed as Twice a woman
- Oude Lucht (1977; stories)
- Opus Gran (1982; poetry)
- De Aanslag (The Assault, 1982; novel); see above.
- De Kamer (1984; stories)
- Hoogste Tijd ("Last Call", 1985; novel);
- De Pupil ("The Pupil", 1987; novel)
- De Elementen ("The Elements", 1988; novel)
- De Ontdekking van de Hemel (The Discovery of Heaven, 1992; novel); see above.
- De Procedure ("The Procedure", 1999; novel)
- Het Theater, de brief en de waarheid ("The Theatre, the Letter and the Truth", 2000; novel); Dutch Book Week Present.
- Siegfried (2001; novel)
Mulisch was honored with a planetoid
in his name on 12 October, 2006 (see 10251 Mulisch