A Handful of Dutch

The Dutch business/economic¬†journal¬†Het Financieele Dagblad¬†opens a story entitled “Tragish Akkoord” (Tragic Agreement) with a¬†paragraph about Waugh’s novel A Handful of Dust. This is written by¬†by Ferdinand Grapperhaus and involves¬†a complex political deal relating to labour rights in the Netherlands¬†:

Evelyn Waugh was a master of the tragic satire. [That is the literary form in which, in our perverse enjoyment of the main characters, even we the readers are pulled into terrible events where we start laughing.* ]¬†Thus,¬†Waugh describes in A Handful of Dust an upper class couple living together, who¬†completely neglect¬†their only child and leave it to heartless nannies and uninterested butlers ¬†– all described hilariously. Eventually, during a hunt, no one is watching, and the boy is trampled to death by a horse. Waugh arranges that¬†all stakeholders arrive late at the scene of the accident, and closes the chapter with the ominous sentence: They all agreed it was nobody’s fault.

* This sentence was originally deleted due to translation problems. A better translation has now kindly been provided by one of our readers, David Woods.  It is reproduced here in both the original Dutch and the Google translation:

Dat is de literaire vorm waarbij wij in ons leedvermaak om de hoofdpersonen worden meegelokt naar verschrikkelijke gebeurtenissen waarbij zelfs ons, lezers, het lachen vergaat  (Google Translation: That is the literary form in which we are lured into our schadenfreude for the protagonists to terrible events which reduces us readers to laughter.)

The sense of the article¬†seems to be that in 2013 the parties to what they thought was an ¬†agreement on¬†a ¬†politically sensitive labor problem now confront each other with the same conclusion– that what they thought was an agreement wasn’t, perhaps because no one was paying sufficient attention, but it’s¬†nobody’s fault.¬†

UPDATE (18 January 2017): A better translation has now been provided for bracketed sentence in the text. See comment below. Many thanks to David Woods for his help.

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