‘Hoop op iets vaags’: ambiguity, unreliability and indeterminacy in Erwin Mortier’s Marcel (1999)

Mertens, Bram (2018) ‘Hoop op iets vaags’: ambiguity, unreliability and indeterminacy in Erwin Mortier’s Marcel (1999). Dutch Crossing . ISSN 0309-6564

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Abstract

Erwin Mortier’s acclaimed debut novel Marcel, first published nearly twenty years ago, tells the story of a Flemish family haunted by a dark past: the involvement of several members in the wartime collaboration with the German occupier. The novel has usually been read as a narrative of reconciliation, showing the often painful process of successive generations gradually gaining some understanding of the past and coming to terms with it, before being able finally to lay its guilty weight to rest. However, a close reading and historial contextualisation of Marcel reveals a much more complex picture, casting doubt both on the accuracy of the characters’ understanding and the sincerity of their intentions. This article is the first to offer a rival interpretation of Mortier’s novel, proposing that, rather than recognising their guilty past, the characters may be unable or unwilling to acknowledge it as such, and could instead be poised to sow the seeds of its continuation and repetition.

Item Type: Article
RIS ID: https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/939558
Keywords: Erwin Mortier, contemporary Flemish literature, postmodern historical fiction, Second World War, collaboration
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies > Department of German Studies
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1080/03096564.2018.1476800
Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 19 Jun 2018 14:29
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 19:41
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/52510

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