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Willem Frederik Hermans (1921 - 1995)

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The Dutch writer Willem Frederik Hermans (September 1, 1921ľApril 27, 1995) is considered one of the three most important authors in the Netherlands in the postwar period, along with Harry Mulisch and Gerard Reve.

His oeuvre includes novels, short stories, essays, and philosophical and scientific works.

His style is existentialist and generally quite bleak, and his writing style is quite unique in its short and pointed sentences, especially in Dutch. There is no doubt that he was influenced by World War II and the German occupation of the Netherlands between 1940 and 1945, and his longer novels (De tranen der acacia's and De donkere kamer van Damokles) are set during the war. Even his more upbeat writings (Onder professoren and Au pair) can have a strange, existentialist twist to them.

In 1958 W.F. Hermans was appointed as a lecturer in physical geography at the Groningen University. In 1973 he resigned and settled as a full time writer in Paris. In Onder professoren (1975) he described the university life in Groningen in a bitter and malign way. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willem_Frederik_Hermans [Aug 2004]

Taboo [...]

Hermans' collection of essays Het sadistische universum (essays, 1964), feautres a piece on taboo, in which Hermans determines the origins of the term taboo. He recounts that he saw a sign in a park on a lawn (in Hawaii?). On the sign was written tabu, meaning forbidden to trod on.

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