Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch

67%

6 Critic Reviews

For sheer novelistic bravura, ''The Discovery of Heaven'' often delights both the mind and the heart. But in his determination to astound the world with a mock-theological epic, Mr. Mulisch doesn't know when to stop.
-NY Times

Synopsis

In the year 2000, there begins a saga in which two friends stand in contrast--but both are caught up in forces beyond their control. At the center lies the battle between humanistic values and technological progress . . . and a boy named Quentin. Abounding in philosophical and psychological inquiries, The Discovery of Heaven is a masterly work of modern fiction that in speaking directly to time calls up time itself.
 

About Harry Mulisch

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Mulisch's name will go down in history as the writer par excellence of modern myths, and possibly not only in Dutch literary history. Every one of his great novels such as Het Stenen Bruidsbed (The Stone Bridal Bed) (1959), Hoogste Tijd (High Time) (1985), and De Aanslag (The Assault) (1982) is technically based on, or evokes reminiscences of, existing classical myths; at the same time, each work is thematically related to the author's own time and experiences, usually World War II. Every one of the more important characters, excluding the main characters who normally serve as narrators or reporters, is an embodiment or personification of an archetype. In The Assault the various characters not only play completely different roles in the killing of a German officer by members of the Dutch Resistance movement, but they also represent distinct types. The action is also much more than an incident. The protagonist, Anton Steenwijk, spends a lifetime trying to solve the puzzle consisting of the various causes and effects relative to the fatal act. He does this not as a detective but as a normal, thinking human being who is interested in knowing where he came from and where he is headed. The puzzle that presents itself to him is as complex, yet as logical, as the waves created by a passing ship, reverberating indefinitely, even when the ship has disappeared from sight. Mulisch is, with Wolkers, Hermans, and Vestdijk, one of the most talented novelists of his generation, but he may be expected to outlive all three others because of the classical nature of his work, classical here meaning "of primary significance for all people of all times.
 
Published November 1, 1997 by Penguin Books. 736 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Discovery of Heaven
All: 6 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Above average
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on May 20 2010

The relation of man to God and the meaning of life are merely the starting points for this extraordinarily ambitious novel of ideas by the celebrated Dutch author of such dense and rewarding fictions as The Assault (1985) and Last Call (1990).

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by JACK MILES on Jan 05 2008

For sheer novelistic bravura, ''The Discovery of Heaven'' often delights both the mind and the heart. But in his determination to astound the world with a mock-theological epic, Mr. Mulisch doesn't know when to stop.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Dec 02 2008

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.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Richard Eder on Nov 10 2008

"The Discovery of Heaven" is an ebullient, cheeky, exhaustive and sometimes exhausting philosophical novel about the failure of the Creation. It is a "Paradise Lost" turned upside down and Lucifer wins.

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The Independent

Above average
Reviewed by George Walden on Apr 12 2008

In the epilogue one of the Gods, deciding to leave things there, quotes Goethe's words: "Restriction shows the master's hand". Mulisch would have done well to apply them to himself.

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Chicago Tribune

Above average
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Dec 29 2008

So for all of the seriousness of its themes, the book never seems plodding or abstract...His big book from little Holland will keep you reading and thinking for a good long run of days and nights.

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Reader Rating for Discovery of Heaven
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Lore Vancauwenberghe 20 Nov 2013

I read the book last year in Dutch:

I think the book is unbelievable good; Mulisch is a real poet: with the art of language he posesses and the art of the content, philosophy, humor,..
I enjoye...

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Lore Vancauwenberghe

Lore Vancauwenberghe 20 Nov 2013

Has read the book

Lore Vancauwenberghe

Lore Vancauwenberghe 20 Nov 2013

Liked the book