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Eline Vere
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Archive In Translation > 2018 May Classic in Translation: Dutch "Eline Vere"

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message 1: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6283 comments Mod
Eline Vere is an 1889 novel by the Dutch writer Louis Couperus, he is considered to be one of the foremost figures in Dutch literature. Louis Marie-Anne Couperus was born on 10 June 1863 at Mauritskade 11 in The Hague, Netherlands. He was the eleventh child.

The life history of a gifted but melancholy woman from the Hague aristocracy at the turn of the century. Something is bothering Eline, but no one can quite figure out what it is, least of all Eline herself. Her life would seem to be a charmed one, an endless round of social calls, lavish dinner parties and promenades.


message 2: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)


Kathy | 1367 comments I started Eline Vere today and find it easy to read and a great depiction of character.


message 4: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I am going to start this as soon as I finish The Book of Disquiet this weekend.


message 5: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen I always get my books through iTunes. They do have this one but it is in Dutch. Any ideas about where I might get an English translation in ebook format? Thanks.


message 6: by Claire (last edited May 09, 2018 01:21AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Claire  | 241 comments Doreen wrote: "I always get my books through iTunes. They do have this one but it is in Dutch. Any ideas about where I might get an English translation in ebook format? Thanks."

You can find it at amazon and kobo and I think other places too. Maybe best to search with the keyword english after the title. Also I see there is an English version on iTunes, but not a free onr.


message 7: by Doreen (new)

Doreen Petersen Claire wrote: "Doreen wrote: "I always get my books through iTunes. They do have this one but it is in Dutch. Any ideas about where I might get an English translation in ebook format? Thanks."

You can find it at..."


Thanks guess I missed that one.


message 8: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I have read one chapter so far and get the impression that the books takes place among the wealthier members of society.


Annelies (anneliesb) By coincidence I started this book and then saw that there's a group read. It is a classic of Dutch literature, though often thought of as a difficult read. I just moved back to The hague and thought it was time to finally read Eline Vere.

So far the archaic language often gives me the giggles, since some of the old-fashioned phrases and words are now only used sometimes for comic effect.


Kathy | 1367 comments I'm finally getting back to commenting on Eline Vere. I've read 43% of the book and enjoy the details of the life of the upper class of society in The Hague. Sometimes the lives of these people seem so far away from mine - no one works! Except the servants and the "peasantry."

I'm wondering where the author is going with the character of Eline. Since she is the title of the book, we get much information about her character from her own musings and also from others' opinions.


message 11: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I have only read a couple of chapters and noticed the same thing. These people are so well off that they have no concept of the real world. I get the impression that Eline might be suffering from bi-polar disorder, since she was depressed on the day of the tableaux and singing cheerfully on the day after.
On the other hand, it could be the idle life style of the very rich. She has nothing she needs to do and no responsibilities, so she has too much time on her hands.


message 12: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I am about 8% into the book and there is one character I really don't like, Eline's sister Betsy. She appears to be bossy, snobbish, shallow, self-centred and materialistic--and a terrible wife for poor Henk.


Kathy | 1367 comments I feel the same about Betsy, Rosemarie. Eline is a far more sympathetic character. And Henk as a character is just lovely.

I'm over halfway through now and there is drama, drama, drama!


message 14: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
That is good to know. I am reading the book slowly because I have so many other books on the go right now.


message 15: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
After four chapters I am struck by the fact that Eline is afraid to show her real feelings and is excellent at frivolous conversation. I felt sorry for the poor friend at the "intimate" dinner before the others went to the opera. She told her husband not to accept invitations there any more. Betsy was patronizing and showing off and most of the others did not seem to realize that everyone was not wealthy and carefree. Poor woman, with her sick children and dislike of the miserable climate in Den Haag.
I see her struggling through the mud while the others are being driven to the opera in their elegant carriage.
The author is good at creating vivid visual images.


message 16: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
In the Dutch version I am reading, some of the characters speak French at times, and French nouns are used for some things. Is this the case in the English version?


Kathy | 1367 comments Rosemarie,
There are a few French phrases and sentences but that is all. There are conversations where it says such and such character spoke in French but it is all in English. Interesting.


message 18: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I know that the upper classes would speak French before the servants, and also to show off a bit, I think.


Kathy | 1367 comments I really ended up liking this book. If Eline had lived in the 21st (or even the 20th) century, she would have had options for her life, rather than the strict upper class Dutch society life that she was confined to. Plus, nowadays she'd have medication and therapy. I think Eline possibly has bi-polar disorder, which Rosemarie mentioned in a post above.


Annelies (anneliesb) I had to get used to the French as well, especially where single French words are thrown in. I've had some "Huh,...oh yeah" moments, for example when they're taking 'bougies' upstairs. (Bougie is French for candle, but in modern Dutch it means 'spark plug')


message 21: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I like the way this novel is written in little vignettes, with subtle hints as to how the characters are feeling or what they are thinking. The author is excellent at creating the atmosphere of that stratum of society, in a "government" city, which has its own unique atmosphere.


message 22: by Brian E (last edited May 26, 2018 11:12AM) (new)

Brian E Reynolds | 4008 comments Not having heard of this book before, I didn't really think of joining the group read for this. Now I am sorry I missed it.
I've read Russian, British, German French and even Scandinavian books of the time period, and a naturalistic look at late 19th century Dutch society, especially in a government city, is right up my alley. Maybe not an exciting story, but interesting to me.
In the TBR pile, but it reminds me to get informed when planning my reads.

Well, I was hoping it was Effi Briest size and I could slip it in, but I see it's 500 pages, so it requires more time. Oh well. To paraphrase Mr. Wonka:
"So much time, so little to read. Strike that. Reverse it."


message 23: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
The threads stay open and I will take a couple of more months to read this book in Dutch.


message 24: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Ruppell | 30 comments Kathy wrote: "I'm over halfway through now and there is drama, drama, drama!"

I'm almost halfway. It's been a little slow so glad to hear that!!


message 25: by Claire (last edited May 29, 2018 01:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Claire  | 241 comments Glad those of you who read it, enjoyed it. I am currentely reading it again, more than 40 years after I read it at school. I still love it as much as I did back then, though I read it a few times since then.
I allways thought the writer succeeds in an excellent way evoking the athmosphere of the ‘fin du siecle’.
As for the french: Dutch has a lot of words that stem from french, esp. In Flanders. But most of all, the higher class used French as a show off, a way of differentiating from the plebs. After all, at that time, France was the place to be,
But even today, the ’higher’ classes sometimes use French in pretty the same way:-)


message 26: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I am reading chapter 12 right now and the author is describing Eline's state of mind on her birthday. It sound like she is suffering from a major depression and her state of mind seems very fragile. Poor young woman, she feels so unloved.

I am comparing her to the selfish Freddy, who called Eline "hard" and egoistic. This is from a spoiled girl who is in the opening scenes of the book as a very pampered and indulged Cleopatra.

This book has so many different layers and is masterfully written.


message 27: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Ruppell | 30 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I am reading chapter 12 right now and the author is describing Eline's state of mind on her birthday. It sound like she is suffering from a major depression and her state of mind seems very fragile..."

Thanks for reminding me where Frederique got introduced! There's so many characters...


message 28: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
There are so many Vans and Vers, but at about 30% through, I am slowly figuring them out.
Most of the characters live a very privileged life style and I find I like some of them more than others, usually the characters that are not so materialistic and snobbish.


message 29: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I am reading Chapter 14 and have noticed that Eline is spending way too much time in a fantasy world. Her obsession with the opera singer reminds of the obsession which some people have with celebrities nowadays. She is not the most mentally stable character in the book, and seems fragile somehow.


Kathy | 1367 comments Eline is not mentally stable. She needs guidance that doesn't seem to be available at that time period or from her social class. Betsy surely doesn't help.


message 31: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I have gotten the impression that Betsy is not a sensitive person, also brusk and at times says some insulting things to her sister, maybe intentionally. Betsy has no patience, but I can just imagine what her servants are saying about her. We don't see their point of view, but I am sure they know her type-bossy and self-centred.

Can you tell I don't like Betsy? 😖


Kathy | 1367 comments I didn't either. Poor Henk, stuck with her.


message 33: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Ruppell | 30 comments Well I powered through and finished the book today. I enjoyed some of the characters that came in the later part, like Eline's "new" aunt. St Claire- undecided. :/
It appears to me Betsy has at least if not more limitations to face in life than her. What these characters do for each other is amazing, seems above & beyond many modern-day families & friends, though maybe with that is the pressure to conform & please.


message 34: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I am halfway through and have some new thoughts on Eline.
This is one mixed up girl! I won't say woman because she still acts like a teenager. She is also emotionally fragile and I get the feeling she is also not very bright at times. Maybe Frederique spotted something in Eline's personality that Eline herself doesn't see. Otto certainaly did when he said he knew Eline better than she knew herself.


Kathy | 1367 comments Eline is very child-like. She doesn't seem to be able to regulate her emotions at all.


message 36: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
She must also be a very lonely soul. She had no one to really cherish her as she deserved when she was growing up. She also spent a lot of time with first her dying father, and then her dying aunt. Poor child!


message 37: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I am two thirds of the way through the book and there have been many changes, after Eline's dramatic flight from Betsy, who has a very limited perspective on life.
I like the way the younger characters are growing up and changing. The Lili and George relationship is so sweet.
But what's up with Paul? He is acting like a spoiled little rich boy.


message 38: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I finished the book today. I am glad I read it. Towards the end I kept thinking "Poor Eline!"

The love stories were very sweet and the author gave us an idea of what the society of the time was like.


message 39: by Emma (new) - rated it 2 stars

Emma Ruppell | 30 comments Yes Lili and George were a good complement to the story. At times seemed fateful and at others like chance was part of the balance.


Annelies (anneliesb) I have finished and just posted a review that includes photos of some key locations I made when I went on a Couperus-walk through The Hague.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 41: by Rosemarie, Northern Roaming Scholar (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 8926 comments Mod
I am glad you enjoyed the book. The photos really enhance the reading experience. Thank you.


message 42: by Bernard (new)

Bernard Smith | 2177 comments Yes great photos


Kathy | 1367 comments Good photos, Annelies. Thank you.


Claire  | 241 comments Thank you, Annelies! Really enjoyed the photos and review.


message 45: by Lesle, Appalachain Bibliophile (new)

Lesle | 6283 comments Mod
Nice job Annelies!


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