The Discovery of Heaven

The Discovery of Heaven

5.0 5
by Harry Mulisch
     
 

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On a cold night in Holland, Max Delius - a hedonist, yet a rhetorically brilliant astronomer who loves fast cars, nice clothes, and women - picks up a hitchhiker, Onno Quist, a cerebral, chaotic philologist who cannot bear the banalities of everyday life. They are like fire and water. But soon after they learn that they were conceived on the same day in 1933, it is… See more details below

Overview

On a cold night in Holland, Max Delius - a hedonist, yet a rhetorically brilliant astronomer who loves fast cars, nice clothes, and women - picks up a hitchhiker, Onno Quist, a cerebral, chaotic philologist who cannot bear the banalities of everyday life. They are like fire and water. But soon after they learn that they were conceived on the same day in 1933, it is clear that something special, even extraordinary, is about to happen. At the center of their relationship lies the battle between humanistic values and technological progress ... and an especially radiant child, Onno's son, Quinten. Quinten's sublimity - in his beauty, intelligence, and demeanor - becomes even more apparent when, after the heavens conspire against Onno and Max, Quinten embarks on a journey that can only be completed by a child with his incredible gifts. Abounding in philosophical, psychological, and theological inquires, yet laced with humor that is as infectious as it is wilful, The Discovery of Heaven lingers in the mind long after it has been read, offering itself up to many interpretations over time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a new novel bulging with metaphysical speculation, Dutch author Mulisch masterfully intersperses mathematics, biology, linguistics, numerology, philosophy and theology. When two strangers meet on a cold night in The Hague, Onno Quist, a linguist and politician from a well-to-do family, and Max Delius, an astronomer, have no idea that their relationship will change the course of human existence. Their meeting, however, like many of the momentous events that occur in the novel, is no accident of chance. It is the product of the careful manipulations by two angels acting at the request of God, who, upset that people are on the verge of mapping the genetic code and thus deciphering the secret of creation, desires to wash His hands of His creation. Disgusted with human behavior, the two angels plot to retrieve the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments, thus breaking God's covenant with humanity. The two angels surmise that the 17th-century philosopher of science Francis Bacon made a pact with the devil for which all of mankind must atonebecause scientific knowledge quickly superseded humanity's belief in God. The angels contrive a series of complex events involving Onno, Max and Ada Brons, a bright and beautiful cellist, in order to create Quinten, the boy who will be their unwitting instrument for fulfilling God's doomsday plan. As Onno, Max and Quinten think and work through their lives, they arrive, ultimately, at the impossible and forbiddenthe discovery of heaven by means of science rather than faith. God has never been so unforgiving. Hope remains, however, that the next fallen angel might be more benevolent than the last. Mulisch, author of the critically hailed Last Call and The Assault, has created a masterpiece that not only brings his characters closer to discovering heaven but also prods them nearer to knowing themselves. Remarkably, he escalates his plot to ever more complex levels of thought without diminishing the strong, suspenseful (and, in Vincent's fluid translation, often funny) narrative thrust. This is novel-writing on a gloriously grand, hubristic scale. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Two conniving angels discuss how they will create an agent to find and return the original Ten Commandment tablets to heaven. They bring about the meeting of two brilliant men: astronomer Max Delius, son of a Nazi father and a Jewish mother, and eccentric linguist Onno Quist, son of a former Dutch prime minister. Immediate soul mates, they let only beautiful cellist Ada Brons into their friendship. The left-wing, free-thinking, exhilarating spirit of the 1960s culminates in a trip Ada, Max, and Onno take to Cuba, where Ada conceives a child whose father could be either Max or Onno. Renowned Dutch author Mulisch (Last Call, Viking, 1991) uses this framework to create an exceptional novel of ideas. Wonderful characters, flashes of humor, and brilliant insights make this long novel well worth reading.Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780670856688
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
12/01/1996
Pages:
752
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.15(d)

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