The Nobel Prize and the European Dream. Harry Mulisch’s European Authorship from a National and an International Perspective

Sander Bax


There is a great difference between Harry Mulisch’s international reputation as a politically committed public intellectual with a European focus and his national reputation as a well-known literary celebrity. The public intellectual should be taken quite seriously, for he even has a certain political influence. The literary celebrity, on the other hand, can be considered a harmless figure who is there just to entertain us. This different classification of Harry Mulisch’ authorship therefore points at an important schism in the evaluation of the importance of his authorship. The complexity of this problem comes to the fore when we consider his proclaimed candidature for winning the Nobel Prize. Although this candidature was a reality, it soon turned into a gimmick in the Dutch media. In this article I will try to show how this ambivalence in reception and evaluation is the result of Mulisch’s own postures. Furthermore, this case study brings to the fore some essential problems of public authorship.


European Literature; Central Europe; Public Authorship; Public Intellectual; Literary Celebrity; Nobel Prize; Harry Mulisch

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