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April Books 16) Cheese, by Willem Elsschot

One of the Great Belgian Novels which you may not have heard of, it's a fairly short parable about a middle-class senior clerk in Antwerp who gets ideas above his station and takes an assignment as representative for Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg of a major Dutch cheese company. He hopes to show his neighbours and rivals that he is made of sterner stuff than they imagined, which I guess sums up Belgian national aspirations of the 1930s (and perhaps not only then). Of course it all goes wrong, and he has to return to his previous job, pretending that none of this ever happened. I bought and read it in English, but the Dutch original is here (warning: annoying pop-up asking you to participate in a survey).

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
manjushra
May. 16th, 2014 10:04 am (UTC)
Käse
in German Käse is slang for "rubbish" or some other random derogatory word. I wonder if that is so in Dutch, which would make for nice punning in the title.
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