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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Rituals (1980) by Cees Nooteboom

Book Review
Rituals (1980)
by Cees  Nooteboom

  If I was looking for an angle in the publishing world my first take would be an out of print, public domain novel from the 19th century that could be "revived" for some reason.  The second take would be trying to market a translation of a foreign genre author- either science fiction or detective fiction.  In terms of the translation of serious literature, such as this novel, Ritual, by Cees Nooteboom, a Dutch author with two books on the core 1001 Books list, I would stay away.  Nothing, short of a Nobel Prize for Literature is likely to vault an obscure "serious" foreign author to the attention of the English reading audience.

   Rituals falls squarely within the tradition of the pan-European philosophical novel, basically the French existentialist literary tradition transported across international boundaries.  The narrator of Rituals,  Inni Wintrop,  is a wealthy, aimless young man who wanders the city speculating in the stock market and antiques.  Rituals mostly concerns his relationship with a Father/Son duo over the course of a decade, father at the beginning and son at the end.   Both are figures of extreme obsession, familiar only within the very tradition of the European philosophical novel.

   Like other philosophical novels, Rituals is interesting to the degree one identifies with certain aspects of the "characters."   

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