He ends up in a village where the local manor is hosting a meeting of wartime collaborators. He pretends to be an expert on their messianic leader, who died in Russia, and is told local stories about the war and liberation while he engages in an erotic liaison with the daughter of the house. Meanwhile, the inn he and the student are staying in provides a rather different perspective, especially since the villagers think his relationship with the student is dubious.
This narrative is interlaced with Rijckel's memories of an earlier affair and short-lived marriage with one of his students. And a final strand is a future where he is keeping a secret notebook while held in some kind of institution — it's not clear whether he's been kidnapped and imprisoned, or is in clinical care.
Published in 1962, Wonder addressed a subject — Flemish collaboration with the Nazis and its post-war persistence — that is still interesting fifty years on. Claus' achievement here, however, is his presentation of the unreliable, feckless and confused Rijckel, who is the centre that holds the disparate strands together in an effective story.
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