Jheronimus Bosch Art Center

Storst blant dem: Peter Havigs notater

Engelstad 1977
Engelstad, Carl Frederik
Genre: Fiction, novel
Uitgever: Aschehoug, Oslo
Uitgave datum: 1977

Engelstad 1977


Storst blant dem: Peter Havigs notater (Carl Frederik Engelstad) 1977

[Aschehoug, Oslo, 1977. Dutch translation: Maar de grootste daarvan is de liefde. Een zoektocht die begint en eindigt bij Jeroen Bosch. De dagboeknotities van Peter Havig. Scandinavische Letteren-reeks – nr. 7, Uitgeverij Conserve, Schoorl, 1989, 234 pages]


This Norwegian novel was originally published in 1977 and translated into Dutch in 1989. The protagonist, Peter Havig, is an art historian whose second marriage has gone on the rocks and who is now working on a study about Hieronymus Bosch. In his diary he jots down memories about the past and pieces of self-introspection that are sometimes, but not always, triggered by details of Bosch paintings. In the end Havig reaches the conclusion that he has never let himself go and that that is why he has never known true love. The resigned figure of Christ who is the center of the Ghent Carrying of the Cross, makes him realize that Love is the answer to all his questions and problems.


The works of Bosch do play a role in this novel and apparently Engelstad has a sound understanding of these works. Nevertheless the major part of the book focuses on rather long-winded and not so interesting digressions of the protagonist about his own life and mental evolution. Because of that the intriguing theme art (= the paintings of Bosch) as a key to self-knowledge (see the text on the back flap) doesn’t live up to its promise. A lost opportunity.




  • Johan Velter, “Jezus redt”, in: Knack, 6th June 1990, p. 161. Little spirituality or originality can be found in this novel.
  • Joris Taels, in: Boekengids, vol. 68, nr. 5 (June 1990), p. 438. (Engelstad’s) novel is a high-light which I cannot recommend enough to demanding readers.



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