Louis Couperus (1863–1923) spent much of his youth in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), and many of his novels and stories are set either there or in The Hague, where he was born, though his work also contains glimpses of Italy, Africa, and China, where he traveled extensively. He gained prominence in 1889 with Eline Vere. His novels The Hidden Force, Old People and the Things That Pass, Ecstasy, and Inevitable are also celebrated. Couperus was the greatest Dutch novelist of his generation.
Ina Rilke translates Dutch, French, and Flemish literature. The writers she has translated include Hafid Bouazza, Hella Haasse, W. F. Hermans, Arthur Japin, Erwin Mortier, Cees Nooteboom, and Dai Sijie. She has won the Vondel Translation Prize, the Scott Moncrieff Prize, and the Flemish Culture Prize for Translation.
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The dining room, doing service as a dressing room, was a hive of activity. Before a cheval-glass stood Frédérique van Erlevoort, her hair loose and flowing, looking very pale under a light dusting of rice-powder, her eyebrows darkened with a single brushstroke of black.
Louis Couperus was catapulted to prominence in 1889 with Eline Vere, a psychological masterpiece inspired by Flaubert and Tolstoy. Eline Vere is a young heiress: dreamy, impulsive, and subject to bleak moods. Though beloved among her large coterie of friends and relations, there are whispers that she is an eccentric: she has been known to wander alone in the park as well indulge in long, lazy philosophical conversations with her vagabond cousin. When she accepts the marriage proposal of a family friend, she is thrust into a life that looks beyond the confines of The Hague, and her overpowering, ever-fluctuating desires grow increasingly blurred and desperate. Only Couperus—as much a member of the elite socialite circle of fin-de-siècle The Hague as he was a virulent critic of its oppressive confines—could have filled this "Novel of The Hague" with so many superbly rendered and vividly imagined characters from a milieu now long forgotten. Award-winning translator Ina Rilke’s new translation of this Madame Bovary of The Netherlands will reintroduce to the English-speaking world the greatest Dutch novelist of his generation.
The author’s touch is always delicate and sure in handling the lights and shades of thought and emotion. —The New York Times Book Review
[H]is sympathy for the hybrid, the impure and the ambiguous gave him a peculiarly modern voice. It is extraordinary that this Dutch dandy, writing in the flowery language of fin-de-siècle decadence, should still sound so fresh. —The New York Review of Books
[A] masterpiece. . . . The Hague's greatest writer, turn-of-the-century Louis Couperus . . . captured the city in a famous novel, Eline Vere. . . . For its roomy, chatty descriptions of life among the moneyed classes, it is a Buddenbrooks avant la lettre; for its restless heroine, trapped by social obligations, it's a Dutch Madame Bovary. . . in Ina Rilke's smart new translation, it anticipates the questions that would become so important for women in the decades to come: no longer content in a purely domestic world, what were they to do with themselves? —Ben Moser, Harper's
Electric. . . . Astounding. . . . A pleasure we've missed for far too long. . . . It has the energy of the great Victorian novels without the melodrama. . . . Couperus is a fine, driving storyteller. He's brilliant. —Michael Pye, The Scotsman
Superb. . . . Couperus handles his many characters with masterly ease and keeps his prose smooth, light, and flowing: Ina Rilke's translation cannot be praised highly enough. . . . With Eline Vere the estimable Archipelago Books continues to make available in English some of the most important works of European literature. —Michael Dirda, The Wall Street Journal
The portrait of their unfolding affair is a masterful observation of the beauty and illogic of romantic love. —Times Literary Supplement