A Alberts
A Alberts
A. ALBERTS (1911 - 1995) was born in Haarlem NL and studied in Utrecht. At the age of 28 he left for Dutch Indonesia to work as a civil servant. He spent 7 years there, and three and a half in a Japanese concentration camp (these years were the most important ones of his life, he later claimed, and he wrote several books about his experiences there). From 1953 he was editor of the Groene Amsterdammer and spent the last years of his life living quietly with his wife in Blaricum NL.

One of the few great masters. Alberts occupies a special place in Dutch letters.

WINNER OF THE AMSTERDAM COUNCIL PROSE PRIZE 1953
WINNER OF THE MARIANNE PHILIPS PRIZE 1973
WINNER OF THE CONSTANTIJN HUYGENS PRIZE IN 1975
WINNER OF THE SILVER HONOUR MEDAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF UTRECHT 1994
WINNER OF THE P.C. HOOFT PRIZE IN 1995 FOR HIS COMPLETE OEUVRE

His books include:

THE ISLANDS (DE EILANDEN)
THE TREES (DE BOMEN)
LIFTED IN AND OUT OF PARADISE (IN EN UIT HET PARADIJS GETILD)
THE MEETING ROOM (DE VERGADERZAAL)
THE DOGS NO LONGER HUNT (DE HONDEN JAGEN NIET MEER)
THE SAND BEFORE THE COAST OF AVEIRO (HET ZAND VOOR DE KUST VAN AVEIRO)
THE SILVER BULLET (DE ZILVEREN KOGEL)
THE WOMAN WITH THE PARASOL (DE VROUW MET DE PARASOL)

What and how Alberts wrote cannot be paraphrased, and his perspective is utterly unique. He wrote short stories, novellas, novels, memoirs and historical studies. His storytelling is a kind of veiling. He kept himself at a distance, even in his language, which is stripped to the bone, sparing and undecorated, frugal, controlled and naked. The writer acts as the third silent participant in a conversation, letting readers make their own decisions, find their own enjoyment. Alberts listens, doesn't leap in or explain, doesn’t want to appear wiser than his characters, and so leaves a mystery behind, an atmosphere of estrangement. He conjures a timelessness and creates some of the most beautiful and intriguing novels of the 20th Century.

About DE HONDEN JAGEN NIET MEER, Alberts' own personal favourite, he said: "Men go to sea and come back after several months. For them and their families, being out at sea is as natural as how, in the past, dogs hunted in packs. But every time they return, they have left something behind where they have been. Not lost, but left behind. And toward the end of their lives at sea they are just empty people, wondering what still exists of themselves beyond the horizon. But by then there is no more hunting." This emptiness within is a strong theme throughout his work and is part of what makes this old master so contemporary.

About THE ISLANDS: Alberts's islands are a symbolic setting for those whom Herman Melville called "isolatoes" – people who live with constant loneliness, who occasionally break out of it, but who often encounter tragedy when they make the attempt. In taut prose, Alberts treats the modern theme of estrangement in memorable tales of discovery, surprise, death, and love. Equal to the highest standards of contemporary fiction.

‘The Islands is incomparably power. The groundswell effect of his economy of his style will lodge itself deeply in the minds of readers. Like a ‘madeleine des iles’ whose strangeness will always escape Cartesian mind sets.’ Le Matricule des Anges

‘To call him one of the greatest post War writers is correct, but when talking about Alberts that sounds more pompous than for others. It is as if his work makes all eulogising laughable, suspect. In his work you never find a single sentence that could have been written by any other writer’ Jury of PC Hooftprijs

‘He exemplifies the talent of leaving out and leaving unsaid more than he says. In his prose it is precisely about what isn’t said in so many words, what cannot be said in so many words… Alberts must have been, more than anyone, infused with the unknowability of people and with the essential mystery of their lives.’ Trouw

BOOK OF THE MONTH: A. Alberts - De eilanden/THE ISLANDS

‘How European feelings, understanding and references are lost in the green, hot, nigh inhospitable island zone, where logging and fishing are the only resources, where the crudest morality prevails, where only alcohol can lift the spirit for those who find themselves facing all this - all this Alberts makes tangible and vivid in his stories.

He doesn’t talk about Indonesia ‘as it was’, he doesn’t talk about particular types, particular figures, he doesn’t even dwell on what it’s all about in practice. He writes simply, like a silent shadow puppet show, of a lone white man against a background of seething nature and lets him make sometimes tragic, sometimes burlesque moves compelled by his circumstances. Everyone would experience things as he does, everyone would react as he does. The man who experienced this and wrote this, is the everyman who would have experienced and written it if he could write. Alberts is the first who did.’ De Groene Amsterdammer


Sales

Van Oorschot NL

THE ISLANDS (DE EILANDEN):

Suhrkamp Germany

Piranha France

Univers Romania

Material: Dutch edition (140pp); English and German translations of THE ISLANDS available.