Louis Couperus was catapulted to prominence in 1889 with Eline Vere, a psychological masterpiece inspired by Flaubert and Tolstoy. Eline Vere is a young heiress: dreamy, impulsive, and subject to bleak moods. Though beloved among her large coterie of friends and relations, there are whispers that she is an eccentric: she has been known to wander alone in the park as well indulge in long, lazy philosophical conversations with her vagabond cousin. When she accepts the marriage proposal of a family friend, she is thrust into a life that looks beyond the confines of The Hague, and her overpowering, ever-fluctuating desires grow increasingly blurred and desperate. Only Couperus — as much a member of the elite socialite circle of fin-de-siècle The Hague as he was a virulent critic of its oppressive confines — could have filled this “Novel of The Hague” with so many superbly rendered and vividly imagined characters from a milieu now long forgotten. Award-winning translator Ina Rilke’s new translation of this Madame Bovary of The Netherlands will reintroduce to the English-speaking world the greatest Dutch novelist of his generation.
[A] masterpiece. . . . The Hague's greatest writer, turn-of-the-century Louis Couperus . . . captured the city in a famous novel, Eline Vere. . . . For its roomy, chatty descriptions of life among the moneyed classes, it is a Buddenbrooks avant la lettre; for its restless heroine, trapped by social obligations, it's a Dutch Madame Bovary. . . in Ina Rilke's smart new translation, it anticipates the questions that would become so important for women in the decades to come: no longer content in a purely domestic world, what were they to do with themselves?
— Ben Moser, Harper's
His sympathy for the hybrid, the impure and the ambiguous gave him a peculiarly modern voice. It is extraordinary that this Dutch dandy, writing in the flowery language of fin-de-siècle decadence, should still sound so fresh.
— The New York Review of Books
Superb. . . . Couperus handles his many characters with masterly ease and keeps his prose smooth, light, and flowing: Ina Rilke's translation cannot be praised highly enough. . . . With Eline Vere the estimable Archipelago Books continues to make available in English some of the most important works of European literature.
— Michael Dirda, The Wall Street Journal
The portrait of their unfolding affair is a masterful observation of the beauty and illogic of romantic love.
— Times Literary Supplement
Couperus binds both irony and spiritual redemption.
— The Daily Telegraph
Couperus can fittingly be seen as the Dutch answer to Oscar Wilde.
What makes Eline Vere different is that, just as Couperus spent considerable time on Eline’s affectations, he also invests energy in her absolute madness. And he’s darn convincing.
— Book Group of One