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Amsterdam Stories

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No one has written more feelingly and more beautifully than Nescio about the madness and sadness, courage and vulnerability of youth: its big plans and vague longings, not to mention the binges, crashes, and marathon walks and talks. No one, for that matter, has written with such pristine clarity about the radiating canals of Amsterdam and the cloud-swept landscape of the Netherlands.

Who was Nescio? Nescio—Latin for “I don’t know”—was the pen name of J.H.F. Grönloh, the highly successful director of the Holland–Bombay Trading Company and a father of four—someone who knew more than enough about respectable maturity. Only in his spare time and under the cover of a pseudonym, as if commemorating a lost self, did he let himself go, producing over the course of his lifetime a handful of utterly original stories that contain some of the most luminous pages in modern literature.

This is the first English translation of Nescio’s stories.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 20, 2012 – It’s little wonder that J.H.F. Grönlöh (1882–1961) wrote these biting and perceptive stories under the pseudonym Nescio (Latin for “I don’t know”). In most of them a sensitive artist mocks businessmen who slave away in offices and fail to contemplate the beautiful natural world. Grönlöh himself was an executive of a trading company in Amsterdam, apparently the very embodiment of the middle-class rectitude his characters despise. In this first English translation of his work, impoverished artists and writers seek to escape stifling bourgeois culture. Looking back with nostalgia at the idealism of their youth, these young men are generally regarded by Nescio with a bemused sympathy that can acquire a mocking edge. He trades wit for sensuousness, however, when his characters contemplate the inspiring Dutch landscape. In the best offering, “Little Poet,” the God of the Netherlands is a befuddled old man in a “shabby coat dandruff on his collar.” He is the custodian of business, propriety, and smug respectability, and he and the devil both observe a man realize his desire to “be a great poet, and to fall” from grace. Five of the collected stories, many published in Holland in 1918, are considered Nescio’s major work; the remaining four are inchoate fragments. While his distinctive voice is absorbing, readers who are not familiar with Amsterdam may find the mention of streets, rivers, neighborhoods, canals, and dikes confusing. Yet this is a valuable introduction to a significant Dutch writer.
Amsterdam Stories
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Short Stories
  • Published: Mar 20, 2012
  • Publisher: New York Review Books
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 176 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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