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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Marek van der Jagt

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Title: Monogaam
Author: Marek van der Jagt
Genre: Novella
Written: 2002
Length: 91 pages
Original in: Dutch
Availability: Je suis monogame - France
Monogam - Deutschland
  • "Marek van der Jagt" is actually Arnon Grunberg
  • Monogaam has not been translated into English
  • Boekenweekessay 2002

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Our Assessment:

B- : decent ideas and scenes, but doesn't do enough with them

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 29/4/2003 Ingeborg Harms
Die Welt . 12/7/2003 Marko Martin

  From the Reviews:
  • "Sie liest sich wie ein weggeschnittener Seitentrieb zu Amour Fou (...) Leider bleiben die Abenteuer des Ich-Erzählers abstrakt, zu den Zahlen gesellen sich keine Gesichter." - Ingeborg Harms, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "Weshalb hat er sich jetzt auf´s Reflektieren verlegt und mit Monogam eine Art Vademekum für zeitgenössische Großstadt-Don Juans geschrieben ?" - Marko Martin, Die Welt

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Monogaam is an odd little autobiographical story-essay. The author recounts his search, from youth onwards, for his true self (as Marek van der Jagt) -- and already it's clear that this won't be a completely honest, truthful account: after all Marek van der Jagt is a pseudonym (and alter ego of sorts) of the writer Arnon Grunberg.
       His identity -- regardless of name -- is in his writing: 'I am what I write', he claims, and so the text is what's important. But the fact that the first-person narrator shares (sort of) a name and past with the author can't entirely be ignored.
       It's a small book, and the search is fairly loosely and easily described, with little actual detail. Family life, with his parents and brothers, is quickly done with, his attempts at asserting control meeting with at best very limited success. In the wider adult world romance seems to offer the possibility of control, and Don Juan becomes his ideal, but though he can turn (or at least interpret) things according to his philosophy, it's not entirely satisfying either.
       A turn comes when he stops trying to conquer woman after woman and starts a relationship with V., a cellist. He is devoted to her, but becomes obsessed with her other relationships, past and present: monogamy also drives him to monomania. His fantasies (and her tales) of the other men in her life turn out to be invention: there is nobody else -- a fact that actually disappoints him. He finds competition, rather than monogamous devotion, much more interesting (and safer and less intimidating): pure love only for him proves to be too much.
       Monogaam is little more than a sketch, and uncertain whether it wants to be a fiction or an essay. Van der Jagt offers some nice scenes and turns, but it's not a real success. It has considerable potential, and could easily have been embellished into a novel, or pared down into an essay. But in this form it's in-between work that isn't really satisfying.

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Monogaam: Reviews: Arnon Grunberg: Other books by Arnon Grunberg under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Dutch literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Marek van der Jagt is actually Dutch author Arnon Grunberg (or Arnon Grünberg, as they call him in German). He was born in 1971 and has won numerous literary prizes.

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