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Nescio Revisited

Nienke gave me Nescio’s biography. It is incredibly well written, so I reread his first stories. Reluctantly at first because I had read them when I was 15, on the advice of my older brother, and I didn’t like them. After De Uitvreter and Titaantjes I hadn’t gotten past the opening dialogues of Dichtertje. Much later, when I was 40, I was blown away by Boven het Dal. First Het Dat der Plichten and later the whole collection.

Het Dal shapes the connection between tragedy and redemption, in a form I sought when trying to understand why turning to science on questions of law the attempt yields both redemption and tragedy. The image used in Het Dal is recursion. Looking at myself as an object, looking at itself as an obeserver. That is what those who investigate the law encounter. And that’s what I encountered when I was 40. Hoping for redemption through science that can only make things worse.

What is that thing called the longing to know. For whom I love I want to know? It looks like it. The Biography describes Grönloh’s life and work in a double helix that spins through time like a drill. Where De Uitvreter was born I reread it, where Titaantjes was written I reread Titaantjes and where Dichtertje overwhelmed the writer I read Dichtertje. What does it bring?

Very much. Too much to do justice here. But enough to give thanks to Lieneke Frerichs who made the biography into a masterpiece worthy of its subject. And enough to realize that in veraciously understanding an image tragedy and redemption are intertwined. So that the image has to be looked up and relived again and again.