Gerard Reve felt frustrated after his successful debut The Evenings. The book sold well but did not produce sufficient income for a decent living. He therefore turned to writing in English. Eventually he realised that his English was not ‘rich' enough. His love for the ‘warm-hearted' English remained.
Gerard Reve 100
Gerard Reve (1923-2006) would have turned 100 on 14 December 2023. He is considered one of the greatest post-war Dutch writers. Reve was noted for his virtuoso style and sardonic humour. His subject matter was occasionally controversial, treating such topics as homosexuality and sadism. We collected all our stories on the life and work of this iconic writer.
It is astonishing that we have had to wait till 2016 for an English translation of Gerard Reve’s famous 1947 debut novel, The Evenings (De avonden). For not only does it mark the beginning of a literary career that blended critical admiration, moral controversy and popularity in about equal proportions, it is itself a work of palpable originality, with a distinctive atmosphere which caught the mood of a whole generation – and spoke to its successors.
Every month, a translator of Dutch into English gives literary tips by answering two questions: which translated book by a Flemish or Dutch author should everyone read? And, which book absolutely deserves an English translation?
This article surveys the extensive oeuvre of Gerard Reve and discusses the author's controversial attitudes to sex, death and religion. With four extracts by Gerard Reve in English translation.