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Read Amsterdam Stories reader Ë Paperback » ❴PDF / Epub❵ ✅ Amsterdam Stories Author Nescio – No one has written feelingly and 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 maratho No one has written feelingly and 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 N Let’s start our walk with crocuses shall we? ’I think back to last year’s crocuses in the parks in Groningen in the gardens of the villas on the way to Haren and farther Spring was late last year The crocuses were in full bloom in mid April Yellow purple and white the vanguard of spring’And how about weeping willows? 'She saw the weeping willow turn yellow its branches hung down and they reached for the water they hung in deathly silent yellow adoration over the pond and they saw their own yellow light in the water' You are probably surprised that I am starting my review of 'Amsterdam Stories' by Nescio 1882 1962 with flowers and trees The nature and the city? Believe me I was also startled by such a vivid presence of plants Amsterdam Leidsestraat 1910I’ve never been to Amsterdam we haven’t met in person yet I’ve always imagined the capital of Holland as a picturesue combination of buildings and canals Similar to Venice but slightly solid and palpable as if Venice has been painted with watercolours and Amsterdam with oil colours Nescio’s sublime descriptions of flowers and trees make the city even irresistible though he worries about the inadeuacy of words compared to the breathtaking beauty of nature 'The birch trunks were silvery white but prettier than silver Language is poor fatally poor'Who was Nescio? His real name was Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh I have never heard before about this Dutch writer who published only three books in his lifetime 'Amsterdam Stories' New York Review of Books 2012 is a collection of his novellas and short stories written between 1909 and 1942 We will see in the future if I can recall many details of Nescio's plots but I will surely remember the melancholy and nostalgia which enveloped me all over like a soft misty cloak The author calls it 'the longing without knowing what for' This cloak has a silver lining though it’s Nescio’s inimitable sense of humour which helps him to be at peace with the constantly changing world Nescio’s philosophy reminded me of the Stoics Like Marcus Aurelius or Epictetus Nescio encourages us to feel satisfied with who we are and what we have and to observe the world carefully Nescio's characters are similar to flâneurs but instead of walking they sit and contemplate Watching the nature turns out to be especially reassuring and helpful Amsterdam 1900 1930Nescio’s sadness wasn’t a guest from nowhere It had probably fermented in him for years He was a typical idealist a promising young writer who buried his dreams to become a businessman He kept writing anyway but used a Latin pen name – Nescio means 'I don’t know' as he preferred not to risk his career The form of Nescio’s works especially the last ones is open even fluid If you like to feel the spine of the story under your fingertips you might feel disappointed These stories have been woven with loosely connected fragments glimpses observations The directions which his characters’ thoughts follow often intersect and some images or phrases are repeated like a chorus for example 'Insula Dei' or 'It’s thawing' The narrator goes round in circles around some topics at times comes back to those he’s already abandoned The capricious and delicate structure of these short stories and novellas reminded me of a cobweb seen against the light Amsterdam May 11 1940Get ready to meet a wide range of characters in Nescio's stories from a teenage wannabe writer to the God of the Netherlands The Amsterdammish freeloaders seem to be an especially intriguing species and you will meet uite a few 'The freeloader you found lying in your bed with his dirty shoes on when you came home late; the freeloader who smoked your cigars and filled his pipe with your tobacco and burned your coal and peered into your cupboards and borrowed your money and wore out your shoes and took your coat when he had to go home in the rain' The type might sound familiarEven episodic characters who appear just for a few seconds are remarkable like the old man wearing a pince nez and a bowler hat who says There are only five things worth bothering about and I list them here in order of importance Amsterdam early spring the last ten or fourteen days of August women and the incomprehensibility of God From most to least important' Number one on this list Amsterdam is not just a mere setting of Nescio's novellas and stories It seems to be like a protagonist itself reflects characters' moods and provokes musingsIn the preface to 'Above the Valley' the author says 'it would please me greatly to think that you too can’t get enough of Amsterdam' Now I want of Amsterdam Mr Nescio I want Amsterdam 1900 1930

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Etherlands Who was Nescio? Nescio Latin for “I don’t know” was the pen name of JHF Groenloh the highly successful director of the Holland Bombay Trading Company and a father of four someone who knew 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 pr Actually 45 starsWhat a welcome change of pace Nescio was the pseudonym of Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh 1882 1961 a pseudonym he felt was necessary to protect his career at an Amsterdam import export house at least until 1929 where he spent 33 years of his life and where he rose to be the director of the firm But this was no life story like that of his contemporary Charles Ives who was satisfied with his career as insurance executive and used most of his free time to write idiosyncratic music ahead of its time It is fairly clear that Grönloh did not want his career but by the age of 30 he had 4 young daughters and a wife to take care of However he also didn't really want to be a writer either for he published little even after he retired at the age of 55 Like one of his best known characters he wanted to be not to doBut the little he graced us with leaves me regretting that he didn't feel strongly the calling to be a writer For the short stories and sketches selected and translated by Damion Searles for this book including all of the stories published in his first book 1918 which can be found in the original Dutch on the Project Gutenberg site are charming lively melancholic and wry With no sign of the drive to impress evinced by some of our contemporary authors Nescio artfully tells his stories with a light touch He is regarded as an admirable stylist in the Netherlands which is why I read De uitvreter the first story in this collection in Dutch I succeeded only in confirming once again that understanding what is written is a long way from grasping literary uality There is no sign of linguistic fireworks and it flows very nicely More than that I can't say at this pointSo back to the translation which also flows nicely and captures Nescio's wry humor and uiet sadness which occasionally breaks out into loud despair see below What comes through clearly is an unmistakable voice one you want to hear of and regret when it stops its amused and sad narrationAbout what you askThe collection opens with The Freeloader uitvreter loafer sponger This tells of the interactions of a group of young men of which the primary characters are three a self tormented painter the freeloader and the first person narrator who is a writer of sorts At first irritated by the freeloader's shameless sponging the other two become fascinated by his free spirit and his manner of living totally in the moment But the freeloader is ground down though most of the grinding takes place outside of the view of the narrator We are left speculating about the detailsIn the next story Titaantjes little titans translated by Searls as Young Titans which I think misses some of the irony the same group of young men appears again without the freeloader This time they are a typical bunch of 19 20 year olds us against them all disparaging all they find before them and anxious to change the world though exactly how and in what manner are not too clear to them Grönloh aptly sketches this time of life and I at least at a safe distance from that period of my life laughed aloud here I suspect that those going through that time of life would not crack a smile Oh we took our revenge we learned languages they had never even heard of and we read books they couldn't even begin to understand we experienced feelings they never knew existedSo right Do you remember? I can't help but contrast these healthy sentiments with the anomie of the young people in Tao Lin's Taipei to mention but one exampleBut life has a way of taking young people and changing them changing them into something they never dreamed they would become; for the better for the worse? Often one really can't judge from the outside The narrator tells the story 10 years after this time of inchoate hopes and dreams has passed and sobering glimpses of the eventual outcomes of these people are allowed The narrator finds a kind of peace God's aim is aimlessness In the next line But to keep this awareness always is granted to no man His view is anti modern life is eternal unchanging cycle; apparent changes are superficial negligible Individual lives go through huge changes; life itself never changes Grönloh finds consolation thereNot wanting this review to become all too long I won't say anything about the remaining stories not even the nearly perfect Little Poet and close instead with these remarksThe strains caused by the disparity between his nature and the demands of his profession were intense enough to cause a nervous breakdown in 1927 resulting in a short hospitalization But they also manifested themselves in the following brief text The Valley of Obligations 1922I sit on the hill and look down into the valley of obligations It is barren there is no water there are no flowers or trees in the valley A lot of people are milling around most of them drooping and misshapen and constantly looking down at the ground Some of them look up every once in a while and then they scream They all die sooner or later but I don't see their numbers decrease the valley always looks the same Do they deserve anything better?I stand in the valley on a slag heap next to a small pile of scrap wood and a broken wash kettle And I look up and see myself sitting up there and I howl like a dog in the nightI've been there but only as a young man occasionally; Grönloh was 40 when he wrote this Well he had a long long retirement and spent uncounted hours walking through his beloved Dutch countryside just looking and being At his death a journal of his hikes was found and has been published in fact nearly every scrap of his writing has been published because the Dutch have taken him into their hearts and I am intrigued because when he described the countryside the sky and the sea in these stories the intensity of his attention markedly increased I'm afraid I might just have to hunt down nearly every scrap of his writing too

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Amsterdam StoriesOducing 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 storiesContentsThe freeloaderWhen we were titansThe writing on the wallOut along the IJLittle poetFrom an unfinished novelThe valley of obligationsThe endInsula d I love this guy He’s so humble so understated so unhistrionic but what comes through to me at least is a palpable sadness You might even say a cosmic sadness in that he’s aware of his smallness and his characters’ smallnesses in relation to forces they only fool themselves they can fight And it’s powerful so powerful that despite his beautiful words and images I’m almost glad he published only these hundred odd pages in his lifetime because would be heartbreaking In his uiet way he’s almost another Akhmatova sensitive and alert and destined to write but shaped by world events into a kind of writer he might never have imagined There’s an irony in his giving up his bohemian life to be a bourgeois then being reduced to ersatz coffee and counting his last cigars as the Second World War sets in just when he’d retired and thought he’d earned his luxuries But he doesn’t hit you over the head with it Nor does he wax too nostalgic for past times Other reviewers have emphasized this the romantic look over one shoulder at the past But I read it as tragedy Even the ‘young titans’ planning their takeover of the future struggle to believe in their plans The seeds of their failures are there from the startI liked these stories eually – I could start reading at any page and be enthralled – but I thought the machinations with the devil and the young husband and wife in ‘Young Poet’ were particularly strongThen the little poet looked up at the window across from him in the streetcar The houses were all dark and the ladies reading this know perfectly well that in such circumstances you see all the passengers in the streetcar reflected in the little window outsideThe contemplative eyes of the little poet then looked straight into the contemplative eyes of Clara the dazzling which looked as though they knew something very special but that was just an illusion For a moment the four contemplative eyes grew bigger and dazzling then the little poet lost his nerve he was a well behaved young man after all even if there were such strange meanderings in his never ending poem and he looked at the brown fabric and black fur and at the vague shape of her legs under her suit and then wrenched his gaze toward a dairy outside And so the little poet poetized away at his never ending poem and even the silliest woman could poetize along with him But they couldn’t be together And maybe that was what made it so beautifulOn to the little poet’s wifeCoba is sitting at an outdoor table at the Beursbengel cafe Her little girl is sitting across from her In the corner sits the devil twisting the ends of his moustache I once heard a woman a high minded principled woman say ‘A man like that what does he take me for? Does he think I’ll fall in love with him just because he tugs at a wisp of hair? Bah’ Don’t trust this woman too much Now she’s lying awake at night clenching her wet pillow between her teethAt times there seems little imagination in these stories They’re like memoirs with a single cast of characters that I presume are based on real people ‘Little Poet’ is something else – the most fictional of the lot – but its world is so familiar from the others that its easy to see the autobiography in it Given such material it would have been easy for Nescio self proclaimed hater of ‘important gentlemen’ turned important gentleman to turn on his younger self and proclaim a higher set of ideals from his new position of privilege To me he got the balance right He’s mocking but gently so He offers no answers besides those his younger self might have offered but in the beauty of his prose he affirms something humility decency abiding love of nature And by refusing to put anything but his very best efforts into his work he actually gives meaning to his self denial beyond the earning of an income to support his wife and children Seen in this light it’s a discipline Don’t waste words Nescio time is ticking A small uniue classic I won’t give it a perfect score because I can’t yet tell if we’ll be familiars Or maybe I’m scared we are already? No unfortunately I feel I’ve never grown up