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Postmodernisme en leesstrategie. Over Tongkat van Peter Verhelst.

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Author(s): Vaessens, Thomas

Journal: Neerlandistiek.nl
ISSN 1567-6633

Volume: 2001;
Date: 2001;
Original page

ABSTRACT
In this paper I discuss the way in which Peter Verhelst's novel Tongkat affects the attitude of its reader. Indirectly, the novel provides the reader with various reading instructions. At the same time though, the text disrupts the understanding for the reader who strictly follows these instructions. I will demonstrate this through an attempt to reconstruct the chronological order of the events that are mentioned in the text. It seems the author has been inaccurate and disorderly, but there is something else at stake. The text poses the question whether it should be understood as a coherent representation of one possible reality, or whether Verhelst's remarkable ontology forces a reassessment of the situation and it indeed manages to confuse the reader of the novel. In the final chapter of this paper I connect this disorientation with the postmodern nature of the novel. The peculiar reading experience of Tongkat is a reflection of its content: the complicated structure of the novel confronts the reader with his or her presuppositions about what it means to read a novel, and these are exactly the kind of presuppositions the novel tries to expose and eliminate.

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