Sardonic, erudite bachelor Herman Mussert, a classics scholar and writer of travel guides, goes to bed one night in his Amsterdam flat but inexplicably wakes up in a Lisbon hotel. He slowly realizes that this is the very room where he had an affair with married biology teacher Maria Zeinstra 20 years before. Is he dreaming or dead or time traveling? So begins Dutch novelist Nooteboom's (The Knight Has Died) semi-surreal, elegantly lyrical, enchanting but baffling postmodernist fable, winner of the 1993 European Literary Prize. Strewn with classical allusions and archetypal images in collision with the modern world, Mussert's dreamlike narration is a haunting meditation on the inescapable reality of death, the blindness of love, the vanity of human endeavor and the possible existence of an immortal soul. These themes are explored as the narrator reenacts his tawdry affair and embarks on a voyage with a motley crew-an astronomer/captain, a Benedictine priest, an exiled Chinese scholar, a Third World journalist and an elusive mystery woman-sailing up the Amazon. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/1994 Release date: 10/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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