Dutch Literature Part II

Dutch Literature 2

Impressionism, Naturalism and Symbolism

In the 1880s, the so-called Tachtigers (1980s) developed a renewal movement based on English (P. B. Shelley, J. Keats) and French (É. Zola) models. Their mouthpiece was the magazine “De Nieuwe Gids” founded in 1885. The most important poets were J. F. H. Perk, W. J. T. Kloos, S. H. Swarth, A. Verwey and H. Gorter (“Mei”, 1889).

The most important (naturalistic) prose writers included L. Couperus, M. Emants, L. v. Deyssel and Frederik Willem van Eeden (* 1860, † 1932; “Van de koele meren des doods”, 1900; German How storms bless). H. Heijermans wrote naturalistic dramas. In Flanders, the most important literary innovators gathered around the author of the journal Van Nu en Straks, founded in 1893, including A. Vermeylen, C. Buysse, K. van de Woestijne , S. Streuvels and H. Teirlinck. The most productive representatives of a group of writers who made further demands for literary renewal following those already formulated in the magazines “De Nieuwe Gids” and “Van Nu en Straks” were – some of them not published until the 1920s and 1930s – PN van Eyck, A. Roland-Holst and J. C. Bloem, as well as the prose writers W. Elsschot, Nescio (actually Jan Hendrik Frederik Grönloh, * 1882, † 1961) and F. Bordewijk.


Expressionism prevailed around the First World War. The main representative in poetry was the Flemish P. A. van Ostaijen; The Dutch H. Marsman, H. de Vries (* 1896, † 1989) and J. J. Slauerhoff were also important. The magazine »Forum« under the direction of M. ter Braak and C. E. Du Perron was of great importance for the development of prose. You advocated individualistic and committed authorship. Among the meistrezipierten novelists of the 1930s include S. Vestdijk, the v. a. became known through his historical novels, and the Flame G. Walschap who took off in a new direction with the Flemish homeland novel. The most influential poet of the interwar years was M. Nijhoff.

From post-war literature to postmodernism

Under the influence of the Second World War, lasting reorientations took place in Dutch literature in the middle of the 20th century. Anne Frank’s diary “Het achterhuis” (1947; German: A. Frank’s diary), which was created during the war years, is a moving testimony to the fate of the victims of the persecution of the Jews.

Immediately after the end of the war, a generation of disaffected novelists emerged who cynically depicted the hopelessness of human existence in their works: G. Reve , A. Blaman and WF Hermans . In Flanders, the socially committed L.-P. Boon, the magical realists J. Daisne and H. Lampo as well as H. Claus, of whom the latter developed into the most important Flemish author of the post-war period.

In the 1950s, the so-called »Vijftigers« (fifties) wrote experimental poetry that was characterized by associative structures and free forms. Leading representatives of the movement were Lucebert, G. Kouwenaar, R. W. Campert and Jan G. Elburg (* 1919, † 1992). In the prose of the 1950s, important voices were JH Wolkers , who broke sexual and religious taboos in his work, the Flame Hugo Raes and v. a. H. Mulisch , the one with G. Reve and WF Hermans was to determine the literary climate of the Netherlands for three decades. According to historyaah, the most noticeable flow of lyric poetry of the 1960s could be observed in the context of the magazines “Gard Sivik” (1955–65) and “Barbarber” (1958–71). Authors such as K. Schippers, J. Bernlef and Armando (actually Hermann Dirk van Dodeweerd, * 1929, † 2018), who seek their inspiration in Dadaism and Surrealism, offer an alienating representation of reality. The direction taken by the »Vijftigers« was continued by Hans Farverey (* 1933, † 1990) and Johannes Cornelis ten Berge (* 1938), among others.

In the 1970s, the magazine »De Revisor« tied a generation of academically trained and strongly intellectualistic authors to itself: D. A. Kooiman (* 1946), Nicolaas Matsier (* 1945), Frans Kellendonk (* 1951, † 1990) and Doeschka Meijsing (* 1947).

Traditional, realistic-psychological prose was written by M. ‘t Hart, HS Haasse , Frits Bernard Hotz (* 1922, † 2000) and W. Ruyslinck in Flanders.

Experimental, postmodern prose produced Jacq Firmin Vogelaar (actually Franciscus Wilhelmus Maria Broers, * 1944, † 2013), Sybren Polet (* 1924), L. Fe rron and Lidy van Marissing (* 1942).

The most noticeable poets of the 1970s were the neorealist Rutger Kopland (actually Rutger Hendrik van den Hoofdakker, * 1934, † 2012) and the neo-romantic G. Komrij; in Flanders, notable poets are Leonard Nolens (* 1947) and H. de Coninck.


In the course of the 1980s / 90s, some authors who had already been active for decades published their main works, for example H. Claus with “Het verdriet van België” (1983; German “Der Kummer von Flandern”) and H. Mulisch with ” De ontdekking van de hemel «(1992; German The discovery of the sky). Authors who have gained a large readership since the 1980s are C. Nooteboom , Jeroen Brouwers (* 1940) and above all Adrianus Franciscus Theodorus van der Heijden (* 1951). Important poets are Judith Herzberg, Anna Enquist (* 1945), Frans Budé (* 1945) and Tonnus Oosterhof (* 1953), in Flanders as well Stefan Hertmans (* 1951) and Dirk van Baselaere (* 1960).

In addition to the works of Thomas Rosenboom (* 1956), which are in the field of historical novels, the strongly autobiographical orientation of some of the most recent literary productions catches the eye: C. Palmen , Pieter F. Thomése (* 1958), Adriaan van Dis (* 1946), Arnon Grunberg (* 1971) and in Flanders Paul de Wispelaere (* 1928, † 2016) and Kristien Hemmerechts (* 1955). With their social and family studies, Stefan Brijs (* 1969), Ernest van der Kwast (* 1981) and Nelleke Noordervliet (* 1945) great successes. In addition, the topic of migration and multiculturalism plays an important role in the works of contemporary Dutch literature, for example in Ilja Leonard Pfeijfer (* 1968), Karin Amatmoekrim (* 1976) and Mano Bouzamour (* 1991). Esther Verhoef (* 1968) is widely read as a crime writer.

Dutch Literature 2