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The Assault by Harry Mulisch
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The Assault (original 1982; edition 1986)

by Harry Mulisch

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1,730284,088 (3.86)123
Member:Eliz12
Title:The Assault
Authors:Harry Mulisch
Info:Pantheon (1986), Edition: American ed, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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The Assault by Harry Mulisch (1982)

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English (19)  Dutch (8)  Portuguese (1)  All (28)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
This is a very exciting and interesting story. Anton, as a boy, experiences an assassination at his doorstep, which changes and shapes his whole life. It is in the winter of 1945, shortly before the end of the war, when Anton, with this incident, becomes an orphan. He tells his story in different episodes of his life, while he is constantly confronted with this incident, either because he meets people from then or he gradually understands what really happened.
Muslisch has done a masterpiece with this fiction. His writing style is great. He can let the reader dive into the story from the very first moment. All protagonists have something special. I never had the feeling for someone to take special party.
This is a book that I highly recommend. ( )
  Ameise1 | Jun 4, 2017 |
This is a wonderful short novel about the absurdity of notions of guilt vs innocence, especially in times of war. Anton is twelve years old, just trying to survive WWII with his parents and his older brother, when a police officer is gunned down in the street near their house. After the neighbors drag the corpse to the walk in front of Anton's family's house, Anton's parents and brother are murdered in retaliation. The novel explores the role this trauma plays in the rest of Anton's life, and we see the parallels between political and personal paths as they are determined by the vagaries of circumstance. The novel loses half a star for its too many far-fetched coincidences that enable Anton's unfolding consciousness, but the novelist can be forgiven for utilizing these devices in order to touch the reader as he does. In the end, the layers of paradox are simply stunning. ( )
1 vote EBT1002 | Feb 27, 2017 |
A gripping WWII novel, set in a war-torn Dutch town. After a A Nazi collaborator, is gunned down, while riding home on his bicycle, setting off repercussions, that resonate, with all the people involved, guilty and innocent, through the rest of their haunted lives. An excellent look at the ravages of war. ( )
1 vote msf59 | Feb 12, 2017 |
This brilliant novel opens in the Dutch city of Haarlem in early 1945, during the Hongerwinter, the famine that afflicted millions of residents of the German-occupied western portion of the Netherlands due to a blockage of food and fuel by the Nazis. Anton Steenwijk, a 12 year old boy, and his parents and older brother were spending a quiet evening at home, huddled around a lantern to keep warm and trying to keep hunger out of their minds. Their peace was broken by the sound of nearby gunshots, and when they looked outside they noticed the body of a man lying in front of their next door neighbors' house. Those neighbors then moved the body to the front of the Steenwijk's house, and they saw that the dead man was the local Inspector of Police, a notorious collaborator who was reviled and feared for his cruelty towards his fellow citizens. The family panicked, and after German soldiers arrive the Steenwijks are falsely accused of the murder. Anton is separated from the rest of his family, taken briefly to a local prison for the night, and later he learns of their fate.

Anton is sent to live with his well to do uncle and aunt in Amsterdam, where he studies and establishes himself in a notable profession. He is haunted by the events of that fateful evening, and although his future is a bright one with a beautiful young wife and child his view is to the past, as he desires to learn what happened to his parents and brother, and to find out more about the events that led up to the Inspector's shooting. He eventually meets key people who were involved with or were observers of the episode, and those encounters, along with fragments of his memory that he is able to uncover, permit him to piece together the full story of that night in Haarlem.

The Assault is a powerful and unforgettable novel about memory, responsibiiity, and one's past history and how it affects, and sometimes mars, the future, which is relevant not only to survivors of war and personal strife, but to anyone who has experienced a difficult or eventful past life. The book was the source of a movie of the same name, which won won the 1986 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film that same year. Harry Mulisch is considered to be one of the Great Three Dutch postwar writers, along with Willem Frederik Hermans and Gerard Reve, and this outstanding novel makes it easy to see why this is the case. ( )
9 vote kidzdoc | Jan 16, 2017 |
Right away, I am struck by the imagery of The Assault. The detail with which Mulisch describes people and places is extraordinary. The year is 1945 in occupied Holland. Twelve year old Anton Steenwijk's whole world changes the night a Nazi collaborator is murdered and the body moved to the Steenwijk's front yard. Despite the war being nearly over, just months away really, Holland is still very much under the thumb of the Germans. Retaliation is inevitable and Anton's life is forever changed. The Assault follows Anton through adulthood and the cold reality that no matter how he lives his life he can never escape his past. The Why haunts him. Each chapter is an episode, relating back to the assault. In the second episode, as a 19 year old medical student he attends a party in his hometown. He hasn't been back since that fateful night. In episode three the year is 1956 and Anton is 23 years old and married. He runs into a man from his past with tragic stories to tell of his own. By the fourth episode he has passed his final exams to become an anesthesiologist. He attends a funeral and meets yet another man from his past. Each year he becomes more successful and grounded in his present life, but the past continues to circle him until the final episode. By 1981 Anton is 48 years old and has remarried. His second wife gives him a son. The Why of his past becomes an ever widening circle of reason. Explanations expose the answers to all his questions but do they soothe his agonized memory? ( )
  SeriousGrace | Jan 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Harry Mulischprimary authorall editionscalculated
Milan HulsingCartoonistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Overal was het al dag, maar hier was het nacht, neen, meer dan nacht. - C. Plinius Caecilius Secundus, Epistulae, VI, 16
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Weit, weit zurück, im Zweiten Weltkrieg wohnte ein gewisser Anton Steenwijk mit seinen Eltern und seinem Bruder am Stadtrand von Harleem.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394744209, Paperback)

A novel that probes moral devastation following a Nazi retaliation in a Dutch town. The Assault has been translated and published to great critical acclaim throughout Europe and in the United States.

It is the winter of 1945, the last dark days of the ware in occupied Holland. A Nazi collaborator, infamous for his cruelty, is assassinated as he rides on his bicycle. The Germans retaliate by slaughtering an innocent family: only the youngest son, twelve-year-old Anton, survives.

The Assault traces the complex repercussions of this nightmarish event on Anton's life. Determined not to forget, he opts for a carefully normal existence—a prudent marriage, a successful career, and colorless passivity. But the past keeps breaking through, in relentless memories and in chance encounters with the other actors in the drama, until Anton finally learns what really happened that night in 1945, and why.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The execution of a collaborator and Nazi retaliation on the family of twelve-year-old Anton Steenwijk have lasting repercussions in Anton's life as he learns, through chance encounters, the truth of one harrowing night.

(summary from another edition)

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