I’ve been posting fewer reviews here lately, partly because I’ve been reviewing less (and writing more! I’ve really almost finished my second book). But it’s also because I’ve been working differently. I used to write my reviews for Trouw in English, then give them to my partner, Jan van Houten, to translate into Dutch. That was a fairly time-consuming process with a lot of consultation back and forth. In the last few years my language skills have gotten good enough that I’ve started writing my Trouw articles in Dutch, which Jan and I together turn into more grammatical, more stylistically sophisticated Dutch.
That means I don’t have an English version to post here. I keep saying I’m going to back-translate my work, but mostly I don’t get around to it.
So here’s a link to my most recent piece in Dutch, on “Huckleberry Finn.” It’s the kickoff to a series on Great American Novels, to run between now and the election. Rereading “Huckleberry Finn” this time, I was struck by Mark Twain’s cynicism. Are ordinary white Americans really that greedy, gullible, and violent?
“One reason why the novel remains popular in America is undoubtedly that Twain fulfills the reader’s desire, even–or maybe especially–in an egalitarian society, to feel better than everyone else. The naivety, avarice, wanting to have an identity, wanting to be right*–it all comes back in the feud between Trump and his opponents.”
I also did the second in the series, “O Pioneers!,” coming up on Saturday, September 5.
*in Dutch “gelijkhebberigheid,” “greed for possessing rightness.”