The Darkroom Of Damocles

The Darkroom Of Damocles

3.82 (6,010 ratings by Goodreads)
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During the German occupation of Holland, tobacconist Henri Osewoudt is visited by Dorbeck. Dorbeck is Osewoudt's spitting image in reverse. Henri is blond and beardless, with a high voice; Dorbeck is dark-haired, and his voice deep. 'I had the feeling I was an extension of him, or even part of him. When I first set eyes on him I thought: this is the sort of man I should have been.' Dorbeck gives Osewoudt a series of dangerous assignments: helping British agents and eliminating traitors. But the assassinations get out of hand, and when Osewoudt discovers that his wife denounced him to the Germans, he kills her too. Having survived all the dangers, at the end of the war, Osewoudt is himself taken for a traitor and captured. He cannot prove that he received his assignments from Dorbeck. Worse, he cannot prove that Dorbeck ever existed. When he develops a roll of film that should show a photograph of the two of them together, the picture is a dud. He flees from prison in panic and is dishonourably shot on the run. The story of Osewoudt's fateful wanderings through a sadistic universe is thrilling. Is Osewoudt hero or villain? Or is he a psychopath, driven by delusions?
It is the impossibility of ascertaining whether Osewoudt was on the 'right' side or the 'wrong' side - the moral issue of the Second World War in a nutshell - that makes Hermans' novel as breathtaking now as when it was written a decade after the war.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 145 x 219 x 36mm | 545g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1843432064
  • 9781843432067
  • 751,294

About W.F. Hermans

Willem Frederik Hermans was born in Amsterdam in 1921 and studied physical geography before becoming a lecturer at Groningen University. Disaffected with academia and his native country, he took up residence in Paris in 1973. He is the author of numerous novels, essays, plays and poems, and is considered one of the greatest post-war European writers. His novel Beyond Sleep, his first book to appear in English translation, was published recently by Harvill Secker. He died in 1995.
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Review Text

"I admired that book tremendously. It's one of the best novels about the Second World War"
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Rating details

6,010 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 26% (1,578)
4 41% (2,476)
3 23% (1,402)
2 7% (405)
1 2% (149)
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