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A Family Occupation

A Family Occupation: Children of the War and the Memory of World War II in Dutch Literature of the 1980s

Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    A Family Occupation
    Book Description:

    Many of today's Dutch writers were children during World War II. Even today, the traumatic childhood experience of enemy occupation is still central to the work of many of them. This interest cuts across the traditional boundaries between fiction, autobiography and the literature of trauma and recovery. A Family Occupation is the first English-language introduction to Dutch-language texts written by and about the 'Children of the War' and their cultural context. Their themes and literary conventions throw an interesting light on the Dutch approach to issues such as guilt and innocence, memory and narrative, national identity, child abuse and victimhood. This title is available in the OAPEN Library -

    eISBN: 978-90-485-1253-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  4. 1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    In the summer of 1992, when the nomination by the Bush administration of an American named Donald Alexander for the post of Ambassador to the Netherlands was retracted, possible reasons that the candidacy had run into trouble in Washington and elsewhere were mentioned in Dutch newspapers. First of all, it is clear that there were objections on the basis of the fact that Alexander had made sizable political contributions, and secondly that Alexander was also Honorary Consul of the Netherlands in Kansas, a fact which was thought to create a possible conflict of interest. A third possible reason was mentioned...

  5. 2. Anton’s Story
    (pp. 23-59)

    Before I proceed to discuss the variety of texts published in the Netherlands in the 1980s which engage the memories and histories of the children of the war, I begin with a detailed and deliberate discussion of the novelThe Assault,¹ a text which offers opportunities to identify and illustrate many of the issues central to the other texts which contribute to the debate about memory and the history of the children of the war. The detailed analysis of this one representative text will function as a benchmark for more abbreviated treatments of other novels in subsequent chapters, and will...

  6. 3. Innocent Children
    (pp. 60-83)

    WhileThe Assaultis an exemplar of many of the elements which may be found in fiction of the occupation, it is by no means the only text of its kind. Having described and delineated many of these elements in the previous chapter, I will now proceed to consider the child as a protagonist. It will become evident that the narrative structures and features found inThe Assaultare not unique to Mulisch’s novel, but also occur in other narratives which engage the post-war consequences of the experience of the occupation by young people. While it may be tempting to...

  7. 4. Language is the Landscape of History: Armando and the History of Enmity
    (pp. 84-119)

    Given that the conventions we use for our calendar are cyclical, there is a moment every year when we are thought to find ourselves close to the end of World War II. In the minds of some readers, this imagined closeness can even be invoked to explain the periodic recurrence of texts related to the commemorated events of the war. On the surface of it, this answer may seem preferable to imagining that such texts appear because they may be more marketable on the occasion of some major anniversary. In similar fashion, the recurrent discussions in the press about how...

  8. 5. Judgment, Justice, and other Collaborations
    (pp. 120-148)

    If one is able to entertain the possibility that knowledge is “a social product, a matter of dialogue between different versions of the world”,² it is incumbent upon a reader who takes literature seriously to engage in that dialogue, to examine a given construct of our understanding of “our” realities, past and present, and how they are reflected and molded by our modes of representation. If the body of texts produced by a community can be said to constitute an ongoing dialogue about certain cultural practices, then an interesting question arises whenever a flurry of new texts and discussions appears...

  9. 6. Distant Cousins
    (pp. 149-178)

    Throughout this text, I have identified a number of works in Dutch literature which show a marked interest in the history and memory of children of the war, and I have discussed a number of fictional and non-fictional texts published in the Netherlands in the 1980s which use the memory of World War II as their thematic material. Evoking the memory of World War II allows the Dutch authors I have considered to take on any of a number of issues; their reasons for doing so range from predominantly formal concerns to the engagement of notions centrally important to the...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 179-199)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 200-208)
  12. Index
    (pp. 209-212)