Netherlands Literature: From The 18th to The 20th Century Part I

Netherlands Literature - From The 18th to The 20th Century Part I

The eighteenth century is all of French imitation. The classic comedy in Pieter Langendijk (1683-1756) relives for a moment with The mirror of the Dutch merchants; the prose is quickly inspired by the rationalism of Justus van Effen (1684-1735) and the epistolary genre that has its best expression in the novel Sara Burgerhart written in collaboration by two friends: Betje Wolff (1738-1804) and Aagje Deken (1741-1804). Motifs of death and the brevity of life are exalted, on the model of the English pre-romanticists, in the lyric of Rhijnvis Feith (1753-1824), while a fullness of romantic sentiment is perceptible in the poetic work, albeit overabundant and unequal, by Willem Bilderdijk (1756-1831). The Calvinist Isaac de Costa (1798-1860) hurled himself against the prevailing agnosticism and liberalism in passionate writings. Modern liberal thought was instead exalted in the beautiful essays by Jacob Geel (1789-1862) and the feeling of nature, combined with love for the homeland, found echo in the Poems of ACW Staring (1767-1840). An attempt at cultural renewal came from the work of EJ Potgieter (1808-75) with essays, articles, poems and above all with the writings of the magazine De Gids (The guide) founded by him in 1837. The best of his activity is certainly due to the work he promoted to give oxygen to the tired cultural panorama of the country and at the same time also to the poem Florence dedicated to Dante’s celebrations of 1865. Meanwhile, Prose proliferated on the influence of Walter Scott and the historical novel. In Camera obscura, Nicolaas Beets (1814-1903) illustrated the Dutch bourgeoisie; Jacob van Kennep (1802-68), with his Ferdinand Huyck, returned to the Middle Ages, while at the age of the Reformation LG Bosboom-Toussaint (1812-86), a writer with an easy vein, approached. A story in itself is Multatuli, pseudonym of Eduard Douwes Dekker (1820-87), whose best work, Max Havelaar, is an indictment against colonial policy in the Indies, known to him as a government official. At the end of the century a new aesthetic emerged, advocated by the magazine Nieuwe Gids (The New Guide) in support of beauty, of the purity of art mediated by the musical and pictorial elements of the word. The lyrics of Jacques Perk (1859-81), Willem Kloos (1859-1938), founder of the magazine, Lodewijk van Deyssel (1864-1952), Albert Verwey (1865-1937), Herman Gorter (1864-1927) were interpreted., who gained fame with the poem May, Frederick van Eeden (1860-1932), author of the famous novel Little Johannes, translated into many languages. At the realism and naturalism in the works of Herman Heijermans (1864-1924) he opposed the brilliant prose of Louis Couperus (1863-1923), happy painter of contemporary reality, and impeccable designer Arthur van Schendel (1874-1946). Meanwhile, the canons of the Nieuwe Gids had been replacing itself, since the early years of the century. XX, a more immediate and vigorous adherence to problems of a social, religious and political nature, with the exception of aristocratic poetry, far from the problems of contemporary life, but still beautiful for its high musicality, by Jan Hendrick Leopold (1865-1925). Authors and works of considerable interest appeared on the literary horizon of the Netherlands, starting with Henriette Roland Holst van der Schalk (1869-1952), who expressed his Marxist conception and his ardent faith in a better future in verse, essays, studies and biographies. On the stimulus of magazines such as Het Getij (1916, La marea) and De Stem (1918, La Voce), spokesperson for expressionist currents, the first (which gave rise to vitalism) headed by Herman van den Berg (1897-1967), the second by Dirk Coster (1887-1956) and J. Havelaar, the new French and German literary currents entered the Netherlands. According to programingplease, writers such as Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898-1936), Hendrik Marsman (1894-1940) and Martinus Nijhoff (1899-1953), author of powerful religious dramas, established themselves. A return to the clarity of language was hoped for by the magazine Forum (1932), which had among its spokespersons the novelist S. Vestdijk (1898-1971), a fruitful author of psychological novels in which the human spirit and mentality of the most typically Dutch class, that is to say that of the petty bourgeoisie, is analyzed with great insight. Between the two wars, authors of Catholic inspiration such as Anton van Duinkerken (1903-68), Jan Engelman, to whom we owe the famous cantilena Vera Janacopoulos, established themselves. While the figure of Johan Huizinga (1872-1945), author of an extraordinary study, Autumn of the Middle Ages, a grandiose synthesis of the French and Burgundian civilization of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, stands to himself. The flowering of works inspired by the Resistance was intense, none of which however has risen to a masterpiece of art. The shadow of Forum initially looms over post-war prose.

Netherlands Literature - From The 18th to The 20th Century Part I