Socrates is a former Classics teacher at a Dutch lycee; Dr Strabon is a renowned travel writer, revered by many a Dutch tourist as the ultimate authority on the world outside Holland; Alfred Mussert is a misanthrope, but he is also the man behind the masks of these other incongruous alter egos. Waking one morning to find himself in a seedy hotel room in Portugal and with the feeling that he is perhaps dead, Mussert wonders what has happened to bring him here when he is certain that he went to bed the night before in Amsterdam. Checking his reflection in the bathroom mirror, Socrates stares back at him and Mussart consequently looks back into his past questioning the whys and wherefores of his former lives and his one love.
Cees Nooteboom is a travel writer, novelist, playwright and poet. His works are known throughout Europe and have been translated into many languages.