An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans review – shocking Dutch classic

In this brutal novella set amid the bloody churn of the second world war, a partisan finds himself living alongside Nazis


It won’t surprise anyone who reads this remarkable Dutch novella, set among the bloody churn of partisans, Russians and retreating German forces towards the end of the second world war, that it has long been regarded as a classic in the Netherlands. In a sharp new translation, the first standalone English-language edition arrives more than half a century after the book first appeared in Dutch.

But be glad that it has finally emerged. It remains a shocking read, even if you have to imagine the impact it must have had when it was published in its home country in 1951, exploding the prevailing postwar discourse of brave resistance to the Nazi occupation with a story of selfish opportunism and amoral nihilism.

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