Patricia Nauta

Maarten Biesheuvel (1939-2020)

It was time to clean up the bookcase. There were stacks in front of the doors and on top of each row of alphabetically sorted books. We would start with damaged pockets and double copies. Soon we came to the B of Biesheuvel. We had just bought a beautifully bound edition of his Collected Works. The cassette was still neatly packed in foil. All individual Biesheuvel books could therefore be removed. One by one I picked up the paperbacks from the shelves. They reminded me of the writer and his wife. I went there regularly for a chat. The cover of ‘Godencirkel’ showed a photo of Sunny Home, where Eva and Maarten Biesheuvel have lived for years. On the front of In the Upper Cage I saw an image of a three-masted ship without sails. I thought I recognized it from a print in their living room. In ‘Biesboek’ I came across even more vaguely familiar pictures. I decided to visit Maarten and Eva. The writer was sitting on the couch among the cats, smoking a cigar. Above him hung the picture of the three-master. “I recognize that from a book cover,” I said. I told him about our purchase of his Collected Works. Maarten shone with pride. He started talking about the past. Anecdotes, often unclear if they had really happened. Fragments of poems, perhaps his or someone else’s. Occasionally, Eva tried to slow him down. Maarten showed me his working place. Photos and drawings hung everywhere. He pulled out a paperback. “Bound books are the most beautiful,” he said. ‘I once tore up the first copy of ‘In de Bovenkooi’ because the binding wasn’t sewn.’ At home, I put all the paperbacks back in the bookcase. There was still some room behind the cassette.