This is the third post for the The Discovery of Heaven read along, as hosted by me throughout May and June. If you’re interested, read more information about the read along here. If you have posted about part III yourself, feel free to leave the link below and I will include them at the bottom of this post.
Ah, the third part, the beginning of the end. I didn’t remember much about this part of the book initially, but while reading there were things I recognised. However, I didn’t remember liking this part as much as I did this time around. The Discovery of Heaven is growing on me, and I will try to explain why. I will be visiting a music festival this weekend, so while I’d love for you to leave your links (please do!) I won’t be able to visit until Wednesday.
In the third part of the book, the child of Ada and Onno (or as the reader knows, Ada and Max) is born through Caesarean section, while Ada’s brain becomes more and more still. Max and Sophia raise the child, in an old castle which is now inhabited by artists and eccentrics. Quinten grows up to be an uncommonly clever child, often asking inquisitive questions that leaves many wondering just how a child could think of such things.
Through this part of the book, Quinten is often visited by a nightmare/dream about an otherworldly place that has no outside but only an inside. This makes him take a special interest in architecture, often visiting one of the persons living in the castle who can help him in his quest to find this mysterious building. Meanwhile, the affair between Max and Sophia stops, and Max finds another woman. Onno restarts the relationship with Helga, the girlfriend he had before meeting Ada, that Max destroyed at the time. Onno hardly visits Quinten, being caught up in a very succesful political career, succesful that is, until his participation at the conference in Cuba is discovered, and his political career comes to a sudden halt. Max is on the verge of making a major astronomical discovery. When, one night, he discovers heaven, he is killed by a freak meteoroid, which makes Quinten decide to go look for Onno.
To me, this part of the book was a complete turn around. Where I used to like Onno better, I now have so much more respect for Max. Especially when Onno decided to pull a disappearing act. Seriously? When you have a child you think is yours? I disliked how he decided to live his life before, with his political career being more important than his family life.. I know he got a tough deal, I know, but disappearing? And Max taking his responsibility like that. I don’t know, as much as I disliked him in the first two parts, I enjoyed reading about him this time, though I admit the last pages about him were a bit.. hard to follow.
In this part, Mulisch’ habit of showing off his knowledge was less annoying to me. I think, this must be because he now mostly uses Quinten to ponder things. Making the knowledge seem more innocent somehow?
Also, I loved the castle.
And the beginning of part 3/the end of part 2, with Ada’s fragmented thoughts, it made me a little emotional.
As for the greater theme of the whole book, I still wonder what Mulisch meant to portray exactly. This idea that humans have failed to keep to the bond with God – is it supposed to be a good thing, or a bad thing? I somehow cannot imagine Mulisch thinking religion is great, but his idea that the bonds with Moses are now broken, with the heavy weight of the “how could this happen?” question regarding WW2, it seems he doesn’t picture mankind as good either. And then there is the big question of predestination or not, and free will. I am still considering all of this, so hopefully I will have answers instead of questions in two weeks time.
One more thing, I am still annoyed at Mulisch’ portrayal of women. He implicitly agrees that men and women are completely different somewhere in this third installment of the book. And he also suggests that it is a woman’s place to cook dinner an awful lot. But I guess after 3 posts about this, it is time to let go?
How did you feel about this part of the book?