When Mulisch's masterpiece, The Discovery of Heaven, was published in the United States (1997), it was hailed as his magnum opus. His newest again approaches science from a literary perspective this time the creation of life from inanimate matter. God created Adam from clay; Doctor Frankenstein used the parts of corpses; Pygmalion used marble. Victor Werker, a middle-aged scientist, has discovered an "eobiont" a clay crystal with metabolic properties and self-reproducing powers. That such discoveries lead to disaster is prefigured in the admonitory tale that begins the book, a retelling of the story of Rabbi Jehudah Lw, a 16th-century Prague rabbi who, at the behest of the mystagogic emperor, Rudolf II (a man who kept half the charlatans of Europe at his court), animated a clay figure, or golem. The golem promptly killed Lw's son-in-law, Isaac. Fast-forward to Victor in Berkeley, where he is writing letters to his ex-lover Clara, ostensibly addressed to their dead daughter, Aurora. Victor's eobiont has made him famous, but his power to create life normally has been cruelly thwarted: Clara left him after her pregnancy resulted in a stillbirth. Victor is a mixture of appealing gentleness and appalling egotism, especially when it comes to jockeying for credit for the eobiont, and he has totally (and in his mind justly) supplanted his partner, Brock. Now he thinks Brock is behind the phoned threats that seem to dog Victor but are the calls real or just symptoms of his paranoia? Although it feels somewhat disjointed overall, like a fantasia between novels, Mulisch's obviously powerful literary intelligence is at work here. (July 9)Forecast: The esteem Mulisch gained for The Discovery of Heaven will probably ensure respectful reviews, but lame jacket art (a clay-covered fist) and the lurking sense that this is a minor work may discourage potential buyers.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The central events in the life of Dutch microbiologist Viktor Werner are that he has created a life a living organism made from clay in the laboratory and experienced a death, with the loss of his unborn daughter. The genetic and scientific details of the creation are convincingly rendered, and Viktor's attempts to come to grips with his lost daughter and to resurrect a relationship with her mother form the emotional core of the novel. Operating on many levels, the book also recounts the tale of a rabbi in 16th-century Prague who creates a golem, the legendary automaton of occult Judaism. Recurring motifs of occultism, parallels between sacred systems and scientific formulas, a woman's fertilization cycle, and the DNA code all intertwine into a mystery with a surprise ending. Here, Dutch novelist Mulisch continues some of the scientific and philosophical themes of his previous novel, The Discovery of Heaven (LJ 10/15/96), with thought-provoking results. Recommended for academic and larger public
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In many ways, I admire this book more than Mulisch's deservedly decorated opus The Discovery of Heaven. Read morePublished on Sept. 16 2001 by J. Picone