First published in Dutch in 1951, An Untouched House takes a hard look at the compromises a person is willing to make in order to survive, told through the lens of a Dutch soldier who meets and cooperates with a group of Nazis during World War II.
In a sharp new translation, the first standalone English-language edition arrives more than half a century after the book first appeared in Dutch. But be glad that it has finally emerged. It remains a shocking read ... exploding the prevailing postwar discourse of brave resistance to the Nazi occupation with a story of selfish opportunism and amoral nihilism ... The narrator turns out to be just as foul as the Nazis, while maintaining a gallows humor and deadpan clarity that make him a disturbingly engaging presence. This is a brutal story that’s all the more shocking because it packs its ferocious series of punches into just 80 pages. It takes an hour or two to read, but An Untouched House is the kind of book that stays with you for ever.
An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans, translated by David Colmer...is so hauntingly strange as to be like a dream, but one that becomes a violent nightmare ... Comparisons with Joseph Heller, Kurt Vonnegut and even Kafka are not unreasonable, but Hermans has his own strong flavor. An Untouched House is shocking, and the seeming collapse of moral consequence is properly unsettling.
An Untouched House offers no sides to be on, no causes to fight for other than one’s own survival ... Hermans’s novella is a bleak depiction of the absurdity of war, which knows no winners ... In its relatively short span of pages, An Untouched House paints not only the ugly face of war in all its arbitrariness but also leaves us with a strong sense of misanthropy, where '[i]f people stopped feeling altogether, the world would be greatly improved.'