“If only I could be able to write it all down”: Gerard Reve and the useless language of desire

In this article, the reader is introduced to the fascinating fictional universe created by the Dutch writer Gerard Reve. Far from searching for the person behind the work, we examine how Reve creates his personality through his fiction, how he forges a new language for his (homosexual) desire: a mixture of irony and religious piety, of romantic and vulgar idioms, of fairy tales and memories, a language that enables him to cope with his fears and his disturbed relationship with his parents. It is argued, with reference to the theoretical framework of Kristeva, that Reve’s work helps to assure his subjectivity, to protect him from “going mad” as he puts it, but at the same time also provides a place where, via the irony, the metaphors, the style, the humour, via everything that defies the symbolic law, the writer celebrates the jouissance of the Other, in the text.