If it had been written in English instead of Dutch, Gerard Reve's first novel 'De Avonden' (the evenings, 1947) would probably have won international acclaim. Frits van Egters, the main character, could have become the antihero of a generation, like Holden Caufield in Salinger's 'Cather in the Rye' or Jimmy Porter in Osborne's 'Look Back in Anger'. Frits is an emotionally and socially disoriented, sensitive young man, who tries to hide his uncertainty and vulnerability behind his aloofness and a compulsive need to tell shocking jokes. 'De Avonden' gives a realistic picture of drab daily life in post-war Holland. However, underneath this deceptive realism, there a looms a world of fear, truly black humour and repressed (homo-)eroticism. 'De Avonden' was generally considered highly unsuited to be turned into a film, but director Rudolf van den Berg proved everybody wrong. He succeeded in combining the realistic and surreal elements of the novel into a beautiful, sensitive and monumental film, which merits to be seen by more than just Dutch and Flemish viewers, although the BBC broadcast it in the beginning of the 90's. Long live Auntie Beep.
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