Remco Campert and the Dubious Lightness of Being (with an extract from ‘Life is Luverly' and Five Poems by Remco Campert)
(Cyrille Offermans) The Low Countries - 2009, № 17, pp. 203-217
If ever a writer in Dutch literature was blessed with eternal youth, that writer was Remco Campert. For decades his books bore witness to an almost provocative insouciance, which was perfectly expressed by the boyish, slightly mocking laugh in most of his portraits. Campert – poet, short-story writer, later also a columnist – seemed to be immune to the serious side of life, to brooding introspection, to the regrets and cynicism of the ageing writer. No greyness, no Calvinist gloom; in Campert's universe every day was a party. Until in 2004 he came out with a short novel, A Love in Paris (Een liefde in Parijs), followed in 2006 by The Satin Heart (Het satijnen hart): books which are not only about Campert's escape from the ‘dreadful joylessness of life in the Netherlands', but also about the implications and consequences of that escape. Both books lend themselves to being read as a commentary on the ode to frivolity, the lack of concern, and the irresponsibility of the early short stories and novels.
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