Han Voskuil – Het Bureau

Last modified: February 9, 2018

Seven substantial volumes following the career of a scientist who, despite his best efforts, ends up in charge of an academic institute. The task breaks him and he ends up entangled in his own fears and uncertainties. He can see that his staff are producing nothing of much use, but the only response he can come up with is to work harder and harder himself. The frank introspection with which the main character reviews his own shortcomings is both perceptive and ruthless.

A disturbingly recognizable epic about what – and how much – can go wrong with leadership in an academic environment, and at the same time a beautiful description of the evolution undergone by the humanities between the 1960s and the 1980s. Above all, though, it is the dialogues which make this cycle a masterpiece. There is also an excellent dramatization for Dutch radio, in 475 fifteen-minute episodes.

Available at bol.com

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