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Title: Oorlog en terpentijn (Stefan Hertmans)
Author(s): SYMONS, Stéphane
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Filosofie
Volume: 76    Issue: 4   Date: 2014   
Pages: 795-809
DOI: 10.2143/TVF.76.4.3062142

Abstract :
This article will provide a reading of Stefan Hertmans’s novel War and Turpentine alongside Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Hertmans describes the main character of War and Turpentine, his grandfather Urbain Martien, as one of 'those ordinary men and women whose lives are the actual stuff of history' (Isaiah Berlin). War and Turpentine is an atypical war-novel because it refrains from the ‘heroisation’ of its characters. Moreover, on account of its many descriptions of artworks and its 'apology' of art in general, Hertmans’s novel is marked by a redemptive potential. As a literary entity, Urbain Martien’s life which, in reality, was radically fragmented, is re-shaped and created anew as a unity.

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