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Strong and Consistent
An angel-like being is ordered to return to Heaven the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments, given to Moses by God, which symbolise in the book the link between Heaven and Earth. The divine being, however, cannot himself travel to Earth, and on several occasions in the book resorts to influencing events, being in effect a deliberate personification of deus ex machina. He affects the personal lives of three people (two men and one woman) in order that a child will be conceived. This child would then have an innate desire to seek out and return the Tablets.
Die Endeckung des Himmels
„Wie jeder Mensch hat auch ein Buchstabe eine Seele und einen Körper. Seine Seele ist das was er sagt, und sein Körper ist das, woraus er gemacht ist.“
“The oldest thing of all is the present, because there’s never been anything else but present. No one has ever lived in the past, and no one lives in the future, either.”
All quotes from “The Discovery of Heaven” by Harry Mulisch
Onno and Max’s friendship reaches a high
During a walk in Leiden they come across a small bookshop. Here Max meets Ada, the daughter of the owner and a gifted cellist. The two become three. Ada and Max fall in love. This is rather new for both of them: Ada, who is only twenty, loses her virginity to Max, who has never had a lasting relationship with a woman. One day, Max unwittingly causes Ada to break up with him by leaving abruptly during sex, telling Ada to just make herself come (Maak jezelf maar klaar. in Dutch).
Max is also haunted by his family history. Moved by Roma music, who too suffered from the Shoah, he goes to Auschwitz, Poland, to seek his parents’ history. Ada and Onno, left alone by the sudden departure of Max, fall in love. When Max returns he sees his best friend with his former girlfriend, but he accepts this change. Onno, meanwhile, has become deputy mayor for the Labour party in Amsterdam and begins his political career. Although nearly everything has changed, their friendship still seems very strong.
Ada and Onno’s child still survives and needs a home.
After meeting an elderly woman who speaks Dutch, with very blue eyes.
The Dome of the Rock
Onno takes Quinten on a tour through Rome. Although they haven’t seen each other in years, their relationship is close. Onno recognizes a lot of his friend, Max, in Quinten. When they visit the Lateran, Quinten is convinced that he remembers the place from his dreams and that the stone tablets are stored there.
He becomes obsessed with the place and with the role of the stone tablets in Christianity and Judaism. After weeks of study, Quinten convinces his father to steal the stone tablet. One night they stay for too long in the Lateran and are locked in. They open the chapel of the Lateran and in a safe they find two stone tablets, grey slabs.
Back in heaven, the Angel is commended for his deeds by the Archangel.
But the situation is no longer in his control.