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In Cees Nooteboom s In the Dutch Mountains 1984 , a metafictional take on Hans Christian Andersen s Snow Queen fairy tale, the story is written by Alfonso Tibur n de Mendoza, an Inspector of Roads from Zaragoza, Spain Not only does he write the story, but importantly, he also writes about writing the story To him writing a story is like building a road you are bound to arrive somewhere some time Once upon a time the Netherlands were a much larger country than they are now They consisted not only of the flat, civilized North but also the mountainous South, less organized, rougher but freer The story let s switch to the literary present tense is about Kai and Lucia who are perfect and perfectly beautiful they are so perfect that that the perfection of one enhances the perfection of the other, and they love each other infinitely They work as circus illusionists, and when they go to the South in pursuit of a job, Kai is abducted by henchmen of the Snow Queen who resides there Lucia sets about finding him, and the story sets about getting to its natural outcome.Tibur n talks to the reader about the story, thus creating a metastory and telling the story itself becomes the story Tibur n also ruminates about the nature of fairy tales and compares myths, stories, and fairy tales He explains that a fairy tale is an intensified form of a story, while a story is an intensified form of reality Whereas a novel compresses reality, a fairy tale compresses it to the extent that animals can be heard to speak Remarkable If it all sounds as if In the Dutch Mountains were just a literary study, something like a modern version of Vladimir Propp s Morphology of a Fairy Tale , it is because I have no ability to convey the poetry of the story Philosophers are failed poets, Tibur n says well, I am a failed philosopher Rarely do I agree with cover blurbs but the one by Julian Barnes is spot on A poet s fairy tale, elegant and beguiling Yes, yes, and yes, and well written too Yet the whole package feels a little cold to me like the Snow Queen To end on a positive note, I love the epigraph at the end of the book, taken from a wonderful poem by Wallace Stevens The quote begins with the memorable verse Let be be finale of seem No, no typo here, and it is so fitting Three and a half stars. Once upon a time there was a time which some people say is still going onOthers deny this and others say that although such a time did once exist, it does no longer So starts this beautiful and compact story and already we see the difference between novels, myths and fairy tales.Ostensibly the book is a retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen s Ice Queen , where in Nooteboom s telling Kai and Lucia not Gerda are circus illusionists and the Netherlands consists of the North the country we know today but a much wilder, mountainous South.The story is told by a narrator an inspector of roads and part time novelist who continuously interjects his views in to the text.Nooteboom s main theme is to discuss the differences between myths, fairy tales and novels represented respectively, and literally in one chapter, by Plato, Hans Christian Andersen and Milan Kundera Indeed perhaps the one flaw of the book is that the story and characters that Nooteboom establishes at the outset are gradually lost in the increased authorial interjections.In Nooteboom s categorisation myths, explain something that we know can t be true an impossible answer given to an unanswerable question They aren t written by one author but arise from society collectively The only difference between myth and religion is belief.Fairy tales are one dimensional stories, presenting an intensified and distorted form of reality, which give answers rather than ask questions, and where the plot is subordinated to the fixed outcome Whereas in a novel the outcome is still debatable even after it has occurred Novels attempt to give a truer picture of reality but are still always a simplification Indeed he suggests that novels that really attempt to reproduce the details and complexity of real life are usually bad novels I d add that Proust and Knausgaard may be the rare exceptions that prove the rule.The book s ethos is best summarised towards the end where the narrator tells us Myths are examples, novels are pictures, fairy tales are beloved lies told by people who find the failed myth of life intolerable In myths people live for ever In fairy tales they live happily ever after In novels there is at the end of the ever after , the beginning of unhappiness, and usually even before A clever and enjoyable if a little self satisfied metafictional take on fairy tales For a short book 144 pages it certainly gives you a lot to think about. The Netherlands is my homeland, and its flat surface does not allow frivolities I understand that now We call it Calvinistic, but that is just a disguise, a floers, a veil, as Nooteboom would say My country does not allow aberrations, because it does not know them, because it does not know peaks and valleys It knows them only by extension, by a long car ride to a South that is not real, or by stepping on a plane, those magical devices that like the fanciful of us imagined for years in the form of portals can drop us into a completely different world in the blink of an eye There is no real way to experience anything but flatness if you are locked up in the North, if you were born there, tended there.Doubtlessly, us Northerners too are prone to flights of fancy However, not being able to express them, finding no door to walk them through, keeping them on a leash so short they may as well be our shadows, they build up inside us But something, somehow, has got to give Reality is a muddy concept, Nooteboom writes If the road is reality , he poses, then what are the daydreams of the people driving a car down that road Everything begins and ends with us, and in that sense those dreams are as real as the hole in the road that wakes us, but what is a hole but something that is not The fairy tale, a term which Nooteboom s Spanish protagonist traces back to fatum, fate, is a hermetic thing Everything is always right, there is no place there for a writer The fairy tale, then, is a one dimensional thing and the protagonist s inability to tell this simple fairy tale story without complicating it, without making it two or three dimensional, without making it real whatever that is is the crux of this novel, of course Nooteboom says that fairy tales are beloved lies told by people who cannot bear the failed myths of life But we might as well turn it around life is a fairy tale that got out of hand, a fairy tale that was overtaken by reality in all its complications, overtaken on one of those roads that the protagonist loves so much He himself admits, after all, that there is a striking resemblance between the construction of roads and the construction of a story If the road is a story, then the hopscotch court that Nooteboom introduces at the end of the novel must be the fairy tale, something he associates with faith, fatum, with an inevitable happily ever after. Disappointed, in both me and the book I m not smart enough to appreciate the book, but I still think the story really is just too wandering and self indulgent Either way, I was not beguiled by the writing so I don t care. Thomas Ross Editorial Assistant This winter I bought an armload of books at the Humane Society thrift store in Bend, OR The smallish fiction section was implausibly well curated, considering the enormous store seemed to be staffed by one teenaged kid, presumably a volunteer Regardless, I spent nine bucks on five books and one of them was Cees Nooteboom s In the Dutch Mountains It s my introduction to the Dutch novelist, but I m an immediate believer Nooteboom s narrator is Alfonso Tibur n, a Spanish road planner who takes a month each summer to write a small book in an empty schoolroom As Tibur n writes his fairy tale about two Dutch circus performers, he regularly interrupts with asides and anecdotes from his own life Toward the last of the novel, in the middle of a paragraph otherwise dedicated to the events of the fairy tale, a single sentence interjects This book is about reading I don t know if that s actually true of this book than any other like all good books, it s about a lot of things Like all great books, it carves out a space bigger than itself and encourages you to fill it. Not a bad book, but not my thing True, in fairy tales, the characters are not supposed to be well rounded, full individuals, but the leads in this story had so little inner life that they seemed like golems than archetypes. This book has been quite rightly compared to the works of Calvino Like If on a Winter s Night, what we have here is a self reflective story that is smart, playful, strange and a bit magical. Amazing E Book, In Nederland By Cees Nooteboom This Is Very Good And Becomes The Main Topic To Read, The Readers Are Very Takjup And Always Take Inspiration From The Contents Of The Book In Nederland, Essay By Cees Nooteboom Is Now On Our Website And You Can Download It By Register What Are You Waiting For Please Read And Make A Refission For You An interesting study of language, translation, and writing itself.