By: Maarten Maartens (1858-1915)
At the age of nine, Elias Lossell becomes deaf and blind from an accident. Communication with him becomes difficult, and mentally, he never really grows up. Years later, circumstances make him the richest man in town as the heir of the wealthy firm of tea merchants, while his two younger twin half-brothers Hendrik and Hubert are left to do the actual work of management on his behalf. This causes a lot of resentment, especially with half-brother Hendrik, who loves money, and is also hampered by a headstrong, spendthrift wife. Hendrik tries to gain control of the firm and buy out Elias by any means, but things get out of hand.
The novel is full of satirical comments and asides directed at the reader. It is set in the fictitious Dutch town of Koopstad , where money, commercial success and social status are very important. It gives a satirical view of contemporary life at the end of the 19th century. The novel was a bestseller at the time of its appearance in 1892, though it is now all but forgotten. Maarten Maartens was a Dutch writer who wrote all his principal literary work in English.