A REVIEW OF PERSECUTED MINORITY BY FRITS BERNARD
Vervolgde Minderheid by Frits Bernard, originally using the pen name Victor Serviatius, was published by Enclave in Rotterdam in 1960. It was translated from the Dutch by A. Ronaldson as Persecuted Minority, published by Southernwood Press in Amsterdam in 1989: 98 pages.
A few typing errors have been corrected.
Historic Book Newly Translated
by Ed Banger, July/August 1990
For those who feel the same way
No explanation is necessary.
For those who don’t
No explanation is possible.
These pages are intended
For those who remain.
That is the theory behind this short novel written in January 1958 by Dr. Frits Bernard under the name Victor Serviatius. Persecuted Minority was published two years later in the Netherlands by Enclave. But this is the first English translation (by A. Ronaldson, who also did Bernard’s other novel, Costa Brava, in 1988 (Southernwood Press). This time, the book’s been released under the author’s real name, due to a 1970 change in the Dutch penal code that revoked Article 248-bis, the law that criminalized the relationship described in the book. The original publication in the Netherlands, helped make that legal change possible twelve years later. The tale is simple, with no frills, a basic account of the relationship between Dr. Frans Riviere and his 15-year-old pupil Louis. The boy’s father found a letter Louis wrote to an anonymous teacher at his school. He doesn’t know that Riviere, the teacher he turns to for advice, is the intended recipient of the letter. Louis’ parents decide to send the boy to a boarding school to “sort him out,” enforcing a separation between teacher and pupil. But a second letter, discovered by the doctor treating Louis after a serious car accident, brings the two back together.
The friendship blossoms, coming to fruition on a lonely beach, where the man and youth kiss, only to discover they’ve been trailed by the vice squad. The story follows Riviere as he enters prison, where a number replaces his name. During months of incarceration, he’s advised by a prison doctor to be castrated.
Even after release, Riviere faces problems; his job gone, he has to sell his belongings. Persecution from the vice squad continues and overall a gloomy outlook hangs over the last half of the book. Some compensation comes from the bibliographic notes at the back of the book, which chart both the progress of the novel and the demise of Article 248-bis, which decriminalized relations with older teens in the Netherlands. The same can’t be said for other countries.
A good and important work, which as the introduction says, should be read by everyone as a way to show the ways the law punish love and destroys those who do love.
Reviewed originally published in the July-August 1990 issue of the NAMBLA Bulletin (Vol. XI, No. 5) p. 16.
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Art, 18 April 2022
Is it available anywhere?
Editor, 18 April 2022
Regrettably, nowhere that I presently know of.