‘This is the only thing that counts, sweetheart, that someone sees more in you than you knew was there’ has been voted the most beautiful sentence about love in Dutch literature.
The winning sentence was picked by the public from a shortlist, produce with input from the 1,500 people with invitations to the annual literary festival Boekenbal. The theme of this year’s Book Week, which starts on Saturday, is first love.
The winning sentence is from author Arthur Japin’s novel Een schitterend gebrek (translated into English as In Lucia’s Eyes) which was published in 2003.
Japin was happy but also slightly bemused when told about the outcome of the survey. ‘I had forgotten where the sentence was in the book, others seem to know my work better than I do myself,’he told NOS radio show Met het Oog op Morgen.
Japin said the sentence is not particularly special or beautiful. ‘But it’s succinct. It is a sentence that is close to who I am. That is the secret anyway, to stay with something that you yourself have experienced, and then the chances are it will speak to others as well.’
Other competing sentences included Anne Frank’s ‘To this day I can feel, when I think about it, his cheek against mine, that wonderful feeling which makes everything right’, and Connie Palmen’s ‘I want you to live forever, I tell him’.
Flemish author Hugo Claus’s line ‘I write you down on paper while you, like an orchard in July, swell and flourish’ also made the top 10 while Dutch poet Herman Gorter’s famous ‘I love you you see, you’re so lovely and light – your eyes are so full of light, I love you, I love you’ also ended among the favourites.
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