The Discovery of Heaven Read Along, Part IV

This is the fourth and final post for the The Discovery of Heaven read along, as hosted by me throughout May and June. 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.

The Discovery of Heaven Read Along

With Max dead, Quinten starts looking for Onno and when he is in Rome, he accidentally finds him. Or rather, Onno sees him and says hello. When together they start exploring Rome, Quinten becomes convinced that he has found the original stone tablets with the 10 commandments of Mozes and feels he has to break in to retrieve them. He does, and when fleeing Rome they visit Jerusalem, where the assignments of the Angels is finally fulfilled and the ten commandments are brought back to heaven.

In a way, this last part made the book for me. You could argue that everything falls into place. You realise just why so many of the things that happened had to happen and why all those characters were introduced to Quinten’s life in the first place. You could argue that everything fits together a little too conveniently and that this makes the story feel contrived, but I think the fact that the book borders on the contrived (let alone the plot of Quinten returning the tablets with the Ten Commandments) is what makes it fascinating: Yes, Mulisch ties up every little loose end (or almost everyone) and every character, every event is revisited in some way, but this is part of the larger plot: Mulisch tells the story of a plan of God, executed by angels, so if things seem convenient or you feel there’s too much coincidence, Mulisch can say: but what do you expect, we’re talking about God here, we’re talking about this higher force who knew and can direct to a certain extent. It’s funny when you think about it, and also a kind of exaggerated arrogance: This is Mulisch playing God, in the manner that every author is able to ‘play God’ for their characters and stories, but he is making it more explicit.

Does any of that make sense? I hope it does. In my head it makes perfect sense but try to put it on paper..

There are many different aspects of this novel and so many questions of interest, but I am hoping other posts will bring them up.

Also, did anyone think the last part of the book had a bit of a Da Vinci Code feel to it? Of course, The Discovery of Heaven was released and written much earlier than the Da Vinci Code was, but because of the setting and the many grand theories about conspiracies in religion.. I somehow felt the need to want to check what Mulisch wrote. For the record, I did like The Discovery of Heaven a lot more than the Da Vinci Code though I will say that the Da Vinci Code is a much faster read.

And, do you think Onno will die? I somehow hope not. I would like for him to be left wandering around for a while. To have someone who knows on earth. I don’t know. As much as I disliked him in the third part, and he never really redeemed himself to me in the fourth, I would like him to be alive.

There is also Max’ formerly thought to be death mother. How did you feel about her appearance? I am unsure..

And Ada’s sudden death at the time of Quinten’s disappearance? How did you feel about Quinten at the very end, looking around and saying that every woman is his mother. I read somewhere that Mulisch felt that literature and the feminine were the only thing he thought could save the world from utter devastation and that is why, when Quinten returns the stone tablets, he is surrounded by words and his mother. Does this mean I’ve been too harsh on Mulisch all this time, complaining about his female characters? But what on earth does it mean that ‘the feminine’ can safe the world? I don’t know..

As I said, so many things to discuss..

3 thoughts on “The Discovery of Heaven Read Along, Part IV

  1. Alex

    Iris, I’ve just published my thoughts on the last two parts. Cross my heart I hadn’t seen your post before, but there are a lot of things we both mentioned, including the similarities to Dan Brown :)

    The last quarter was also my favorite part, the most exciting and, looking back, the only one to be considered a page-turner.

    I don’t think he was a misogynist or didn’t respect women, but he’s definitely not very comfortable it developing a feminine character.

    I think Onno will die and I’m sorry for it as well. I’m not sure what to think of the end. I wish it had been less… mystical?

    My 2-euro cents:

    http://thesleeplessreader.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/the-discovery-of-heaven-by-harry-mulisch-read-along-part-22/

    Reply
  2. Pingback: A Month of Dutch Literature: Looking Back | Iris on Books

  3. Pingback: The Discovery of Heaven Read-a-Long: Week 4 « Leeswammes' Blog

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