[Oorlog en terpentijn] Kindle ¸ Stefan Hertmans

The Lives of Stay-at-Home Fathers: Masculinity, Carework and Fatherhood in the United States kWhether this is a fictional novel at all since it is is reconstructed biographyMartien was born in 1891 into relative poverty as his father Franciscus worked as a poorly remunerated painter and restorer of church murals Urbain completed 4 years of military training before WW1 and served in the Belgian army with distinction during the war surviving three serious injuries Franciscus had no desire to pass his vocation on to his son but he did inherit his father s love of and skills in paintingUrbain wrote his life story at least up till the end of the war in three notebooks that he beueathed to his grandson Stefan who was at a loss what to do with them until the approach of 2014 made him realise the hundredth anniversary of the cataclysm would release a flood of books a new barrage alongside the almost unscaleable mountain of existing historical material books as innumerable as the sandbags on the Yser front thoroughly documented historically accurate made up novels and stories while I held the privilege of his memoirs but was too scared to open them didn t dare to open the first page in thenowledge that this story would be a farewell to a piece of my childhood this story which if I didn t hurry would be published just when readers turned away with a yawn from yet another book on the First World WarHertmans also discovered some further family secrets in his grandfather s papers during this time the clues to which were buried in some of his grandfather s paintings such as a reproduction of Velazuez s Rokeby Venus but with a different face on the reclining nude as well as some of his grandfather s anecdotes where memories of the War seemed to bleed into his tales of famous geniuses of the Romantic period The things he wished to forget ept coming back in shards of stories or absurd details and whether heaven or hell was the subject shards and details like these were the puzzle pieces I had to fit together before I could begin to understand what had gone on inside him all his life the battle between the transcendent which he yearned for and the memory of death and destruction which held him in its clutchesHertmans explains his approach in this radio interview result was this book in three sections The first explaining Hertman s uest and providing an imaginative reconstruction of his grandfather s family history and pre life war based on the notebooks the second an account of Urbain s first world war written in the first person presumably lifted mostly direct from the notebooks with authorial editing and a third section that wraps up the story with the first and third sections illustrated with family photos scenes from the places described and paintings both famous and increasingly Urbain s ownThis is a very creative and literary approach to the subject matter So why my disappointmentUltimately Hertmans been hoist by his own epigraphs If you are going to write a novel whose first section is ostensibly fiction but with elements of fact history and travelogue all illustrated with occasional black and white photos then if you uote WG Sebald you are setting yourself a high standard and it is one of which Hertmans falls well shortDu an arotar s Panorama which was also eligible for the 2017 MBI did the whole Sebald tribute thing including evocative descriptions of Belgium so much betterAnd if your second section is a detailed personal account of the 1st world war and you reference Erich Maria Remarue you have the same issue The here was relatively mundane albeit the terrible events described need no embellishment And while the story is obviously true it did still seem a tad Hollywood with Urbain surviving miraculously unscathed despite heroically flinging himself into dangerous situations with all ABOUT HIM FALLING DEAD THERE IS him falling dead There is an interesting undercurrent of Walloon Flemish tension is this part with the French speaking officers disdaining the Flemish NCOs but this waried a little With Repetition Particularly Urbain S Repeated Insistence That His Name repetition particularly Urbain s repeated insistence that his name pronounced the Flemish way closer to Maarten not Marshen which even forms the last line of the book as an admonition to St Peter at Heaven s gatesIt s a cheap shot I now but when Urbain s account acknowledged my story is growing monotonous just as Urbain s account acknowledged my story is growing monotonous just as war grew monotonous death grew monotonous our hatred of the Huns monotonous just as life itself grew monotonous and finally began to turn our stomachs I couldn t help but agreeTo be fair the 3rd section which pieces together some of the clues and provides some interesting revelations explaining details of my own world that never offered up their historical secrets until I read his memoirs from the 1st section But even here there was too much sentimentality for my taste ultimately family biography tends to be of disproportionate interest to those in the familyUltimately I realise I have been far too harsh on this book I would actually be surprised if the judges don t put it through to the MBI and BTBA shortlists But it wasn t for me Nearing his death in 1981 Urbain Martien presented his grandson with two notebooks about his early life in Belgium It took Stefan Hertmans 30 years before he could address the material contained therein resulting in this magnificent book The first third deals with growing up in Ghent in extreme poverty son of a restorer of frescos a beloved father afflicted with asthma who dies young leaving the legacy of a love of art When still in his teens Martien attends four years of military school which provides incomplete preparation for the horrors of actual modern warfare Hard as the first third is to read the second is even challengingWorld War I has taken on a burnished hue of nostalgia having been somewhat eclipsed by the horrors of WWII However that war begat the lost ethos of the old time soldierin our world of terrorist attacks and virtual violence The Rape of Belgium during the German occupation of 1914 15 in their advancement on France provides the backdrop for Martien s war memoir providing an unfiltered account of the challenges of carrying out seemingly senseless orders battling fatigue vermin boredom mosuitos and of course ever present fear are brought stunningly to life through this first person eyewitness experience However included with the unimaginable filthy horrors of trench warfare are scenes of surreal beauty such as a shared dreamlike vision of migrating eels in moonlight Martien endures is severely wounded several times and returns to a war torn Ghent after hostilities have endedThe final portion covers a grandson s finishing a portrait of his grandfather Hertman s visits to the locations that forged his grandfather s character and experience both enlightening and traumatizing him It completes the picture Throughout reading this book I referred to images thankful once to the internet for making this possible Very highly recommended. Soldier he is he marries her sister at her parents' bidding The rest is not uite silence but a marriage with a sad secret at its heart and the consolations found in art and painting War and Turpentine is the imaginative reconstruction of a damaged life across the tumultuous decades of the twentieth century; a deeply moving portrayal of family grief love and wa. ,
A War Fresco in a Fractured Frame War and Turpentine is the author s ostensible attempt to write a life of his grandfather a Belgian soldier in the First World War and an amateur painter all his life tossed back and forth between the soldier he had to be and the artist he d wished to become emphasis mine But Stefan Hertmans never succeeds in defining that and connecting the two In round numbers we have Turpentine 150 pages then War 100 then Turpentine again 50 Though intermittently interesting and even approaching excellence in its wartime section the result never uite coheres as a single bookThe War section is certainly the best thing in it It is presented as the first person account of Urbain Martien a Flemish ironworker and part time painter who was called up in 1914 and served to the bitter end Having been to military school he enters as a corporal his abilities will earn him many medals and promotion to Sergeant Major His account is unusual for thre This is a fabulous book complex rich wise and beautifully written and translated It s not a page turner in terms of plot and pacing it s like a single malt that one savors and later calls to mind in uiet thoughtful moments Put simply War and Turpentine is the real deal a masterpiece The battle between the transcendent and the memory of death and destruction is elouently shared through the life of Urbain Martien the author s grandfather in War and Turpentine a book called a future classic by the GuardianThirty years after inheriting his grandfather s papers Stefan Hertmans finally read the memoirs Urbain s early life in poverty drove him into the Ghent steel mills as a teenager Then came the sudden epiphany that he like his father who restored church murals must be an artist Urbain joins the Flemish Military Academy and is called up to service and into the horror of The Great WarHow far I have strayed from what I once hoped to becomeGermany wanted a uick route to Paris and neutral Belgium was in the way When Belgium resisted the German army invaded murdering whole villages The Rape of Belgium left 6000 civilians dead 15 million refugees and 120000 civilians used as forced labor The military lost 100000 or deadHertmans retelling of his grandfather s story is in three sections the author s personal memories and his grandfather s early life the brutal war years the post war years as Urbain cobbles together a life The war section for me was most powerful with its vivid descriptions of death and suffering the piles of human waste in the trenches Urbain s honorable bravery and multiple injuries the absurd carnage of human lives We re all cannon fodder togetherAnd yet there are moments when Urbain sees nature s beauty the artist s eye still seeking out the inspiration of color and form and associationAfter the war Urbain cobbles together a life love loss and loneliness the frailty of the body and the accomplishment of one great original painting What mattered most to him was something he could not share with other So he painted trees clouds peacocks the Ostend beach a poultry yard still lifes on half cleared tables an immense silent devoted labour of grief to put the world s weeping to rest in the most everyday things he never painted a single war sceneThe novel is an international best seller I received a free ebook through Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and unbiased review Non chronological story set for the most part in Ghent Belgium and jumping to selected periods between the birth of the narrator s grandfather in the late 1890s up to the recent past The unnamed narrator loves his grandfather whose impoverished childhood and time in the trenches of World War 1 have marked his 90 years on earth irrevocably A painter he took his grandson with Whom He Was Close Everywhere The Novel he was close everywhere The novel me in the early going of Thomas Bernhard s phenomenal Gathering Evidence Bernhard s grandfather was also a big influence on his world view Like it War and Turpentine is beautifully written though the tone is gentler and broadly observant of the fleeting world whereas Bernhart s memoir is a collection of grievances against all the fools he memoir is a collection of grievances against all the fools he suffered The two points of view couldn t be dissimilar yet both have at their core this adoration of a beloved grandfatherAs a child the narrator s grandfather had the good fortune to watch his own father the great grandfather at work in his profession as a painter of Church murals Naturally the colors he used were highly toxic This was a time before safety regulations in the same Belgium that created a living hell in Congo Naturally the painter father s health suffers Later as a very young man hardly out of his teens the grandfather works in horrendous industrial conditions himself In an iron foundry without winches he pours molten iron from a crucible he holds in his hands Hideous accidents are commonplace Hertman s writing runs along a pleasant median between summary and passages of extraordinarily vivid detail He uses photos of things he mentions in the text in a fashion reminiscent of WG Sebald See The Rings of Saturn The Emigrants Austerlitz etc But somehow the practice seems less essential here Perhaps it is just a matter of tone I have to think about the matterThen we arrive in August 1914 The Germans have invaded Belgium Urbain the beloved grandfather along with his fellow soldiers are fantastically outgunned The pounding of the gargantuan German howitzer Big Bertha feels like an earthuake underfoot Everywhere they go they march and their destinations are invariably littered with the dead and the dying for there are no medical corpsmen Logistical supply too is almost nonexistent Urbain and his soldiers he s in charge of a suad by this time are starving They re dropping like flies Some men are so thirsty that they drink from a canal which has dead bodies in it they end up with dysentery Within a week the Brussels army is reduced to half its former size The novel until now has been deliciously rich spilling over with vivid imagery descriptions of architecture town markets neighborhoods strange people mother s cooking poverty the harsh labor of primitive industry the work of the great grandfather s mural painting Then in Part 2 we are in the middle of a rather commonplace war story The fact that it s action packed and harrowing in my view does not make up for the cliches of the genre which begin to appear All the novelty of this part lies in its setting Brussels which closely follows the course of the actual war there But the bright freshness follows the course of the actual war there But the bright freshness Part 1 is conspicuous in its absence The narrator is now entirely Urbain who we ve only heard speak previously through letters or other writings The grandson has stepped aside The artifice of the fiction to my mind becomes apparent The playful non chronological approach is abandoned for linear storytelling This is Hertman s little structu. Shortly before his death Stefan Hertmans' grandfather Urbain Martien gave his grandson a set of notebooks containing the detailed memories of his life He grew up in poverty around 1900 the son of a struggling church painter who died young and went to work in an iron foundry at only 13 Afternoons spent with his father at work on a church fresco were Urbain’s. Oorlog en terpentijnRal risk Most readers will no doubt follow him enthusiastically Late in Part 2 and spilling over into Part 3 is the tale of Urbain just back from the war and his newfound love for a neighborhood beauty This relationship compasses the final tragedy of his life which truly is a vale of tears most stoically borne uite moving and warmly recommend I now many of us have family members who went to war and lost parts of themselves there leaving us only with letters or journals to try to piece those years together While sections of the book are disjointed and didn t flow well overall it was an interesting touching tribute to the author grandfather and his great grandparents The WW1 section written in the first person was vivid and powerful Urbain s relationships with his parents and the role of art music in their lives was also beautifully written I think this is a book I will remember Bailed a fifth of the way in This is not really a novel at all it s a rather dry memoir with sections that go on and on that are like essayistic musings on Belgian history and culture with little about the main characters at all What little there was of an actual story was moderately interesting about a grandfather who d been a painter of sorts What I couldn t endure was the feeling of watching paint dry while reading this Une Beaut Douloureux en FlandresONE OF NY TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF 2016 update on 12916The time passes from reading this book the I appreciate its dolorous beauty as a novel about art and war and memory and love While I saw this as a decent 4 a month ago I now see five stars in an iridescent visual collage of captivating and haunting splendourIn 1981 the Belgian author Stefan Hertmans 90 year old Flemish maternal grandfather Urbain Martien gave him two large notebooks he had written in the prior several years of his memories of his Dickensian childhood growing up in Ghent a port city of Belgium and of his military service in World War I Hertmans did not pull out the notebooks and begin work on the novel until after 2010 with the approach of the 100 year anniversary of WW I Ghent BelgiumThe novel is split into three parts The first is Martien s childhood the second his action in the war and the final part is the sixty years of his life after the war The first and third parts are written in third person with the author going from his granddad s notes and his many visits to the sites mentioned therein trying to imagine what it must have been like before and after the war The second part is an transfixing first person account of the grandfather from the frontline trenches of WW IMartien grew up in a poor household His father painted frescoes in churches and died young likely from long term exposure to the paint s chemicals At only 13 Martien went to work in an iron foundry where he witnessed several terrible factory accidents Of a Flanders tannery at the turn of the 20th Century the author describes the shops penetrating odor of old wood and damp sackcloth and a closed courtyard that smelled of brussel sprout trimmings horse manure scraped off the streets and drying tobacco leaves After working in the foundry he went off to military schoolIn the summer of 1914 after Germany s invasion of Belgium Martien was conscripted During the war he was seriously injured three times going back into service after the first two He describes his first return to a mob of emaciated ghouls He describes an early German offensive as a moving wall of metal smoke and gunfire that seemed to herald the last judgment Viewing the Zeppellin for the first time he said it was like a dream fish drifting silently over our heads In all the degradation of war he can still see the nuance of nature The earth he can still see the nuance of nature The earth up after the chilly morning hours vapour rises from the miry fields which shine in the strange light A blanket of lapwings ripples over the horizon Yet as The Guardian put it these 90 pages are some of the most distilled expression of unremitting horrorIn the final part we see Martien s love and loss and pain a discussion of which would be a sort of spoiler In probably the Most Poignant Parts Of poignant parts of darkly gorgeous novel we get a portrait of the aging painter who had little respect for modern painters They muddle along with no respect for the laws of anatomy don t even now how to glaze never mix their own paint use turpentine like water and are ignorant of the secrets of grinding your own pigments of fine linseed oil and the blowing of siccativesHe loved RembrandtRembrandt s The Slaughtered Ox shown among pictures in the noveland the Flemish mastersPeter Paul Rubens Adam and EveJan Van Eyck Ghent AltarpieceAnd as a war survivor His grand passions were treetops clouds and folds in fabric In these formless forms he could let go lose himself in a dream world of light and dark in clouds congealed in oil paint chiaroscuro a world where nobody else could intrude because something it was hard to say what had broken inside himI always leave with visual impressions after viewing masterpiece paintings on a trip to a large gallery or museum Some strike me take my breath away once I ve had time to contemplate them visualize them delight in their glory While I wouldn t go so far as to say this novel is breathtaking I will say its beauty has entranced me over the past month in which time I ve become enad with it as a masterful novel of war and art and love The author Stefan Hertmans is a well nown Flemish poet Apparently there is some debate over how much of his book War and Turpentine is fictional and how much is true Indeed the main character in the book Urbain Martien is the author s grandson and he did beueath his memoirs to In my most distant memory of my grandfather he is on the beach at OstendWhat he sees is something like a James Ensor painting set in motion although he despises true work of that Ostend blasphemer with the English name Ensor is a dauber and along with toss pot and riff raff dauber is the worst accusation he can make They re all daubers today painters they ve completely lost touch with the classical tradition the subtle novel craft of the old masters They muddle along with no respect for the laws of anatomy don t even now how to glaze never mix their own paint use turpentine like water and are ignorant of the secrets of grinding your own pigments of fine linseed oil and the blowing of siccatives no wonder there are no great paintersAn Ensor painting of Ostend beachBook 9 from no great paintersAn Ensor painting of Ostend beachBook 9 from on the 2017 Man Booker International and while certainly not the worst book the biggest disappointment so far at least versus my high expectations of it based on reviews I had read and also its status as the only book also on the 2017 Best Translated Book Award shortlistWar and Turpentine is based on the real life story of Hertmans grandfather Urbain Martien a retired veteran from World War 1 Indeed it is arguable. Heaven; the iron foundry an infernoDuring the First World War Urbain was on the front line confronting the invading Germans and ever after he is haunted by events he can never forget The war ends and he marries his great love Maria Emelia but she dies tragically in the 1919 flu epidemic Urbain mourns her bitterly for the rest of his life but like the obedient.

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