Netherlands Literature From the End of 20th Century to the Beginning of the 21st Century

By | December 1, 2021

In the 1960s, H. Mulisch, one of the most original and innovative figures of Dutch prose, made his debut, while the activity of a large generation of writers began who, while remaining tied to traditional fiction, showed that they had understood the spirit and themes of new times. H. Haasse, internationally renowned narrator and essayist, after her first successes with the novella Oeroeg (1949; trans. It. The lake of the spirits, 1992) and the novels Het woud der verwachting (1949; trans. It. Wandering through a forest oscura, 1991) and De tuinen van Bomarzo (“The gardens of Bomarzo”, 1968), initiated a renewal of the historical novel with Mevrouw Bentinck of de onverenighaarheid van karakter (“Miss B. or the incompatibility of character”, 1978) and De groten der aarde of Bentinck tegen Bentinck (“The great of the earth or B. against B.”, 1981). A. van der Veen is an attentive observer of the problems of man and society in Het wilde feest (“The wild party”, 1952) and engaged in personal analysis in Kom mij niet te na (“Don’t come too behind me”, 1968) and Blijf niet zitten waar je zit (“Don’t Sit Where You Are”, 1972). We also remember A. Koolhaas, A. Kossman, PH Dubois, M. Dendermonde. A separate chapter constitutes the humorous prose, represented above all by two great writers much loved by the public: G. Bomans and S. Carmiggelt. Protest and non-conformism take on a more violent and aggressive tone in the prose of J. Wolkers, author of many short stories and novels, including some best sellers of the 1960s, and J. Cremer, inspired by the model of J. Kerouac. Controlled and composed is the realism of H. Heeresma, whose short stories are remembered (Een dagje naar het strand, 1962, and De vis, 1963; trans. It. A day at the beach. The fish, 1973) and the parody text from Han de Wit gaat in ontwikkelingshulp (“H. de W. goes voluntary in developing countries”, 1972). B. den Uyl, in a laconic and precise prose, but full of unsettling effects, records the madness of a reality entrusted to chance ( Een zachte fluittoon “A subdued whistle”, 1968; Gods wegen zijn duister en zelden aangenaam “The ways of Ladies are dark and seldom pleasant “, 1975; Opkomst & ondergaang van de zwarte trui ” Rise and decline of the black sweater “, 1982). Mythical and magical elements emerge in the imagination of J. Hamelink, who describes the contrast between technological civilization and the menacing forces of nature in Het plantaardig bewind (“Vegetable power”, 1964), Ranonkel (“Ranuncolo”, 1969) and De boom Goliath (“The Goliath tree “, 1973). Also of fantastic inspiration is the realism of G. Krol, author of Het gemillimeterde hoofd (1967; trans. It. The millimeter head, 1969), while A. Koolhaas with his original animal tales renews the traditional forms of this narrative genre, and W. Brakman, author of psychological novels, pays particular attention to language and form. The prose of the writer A. Burnier has a strongly committed character, both in the search for her own identity and in the analysis of the position of women in society. Romantic sensitivity and psychological insight, together with compositional and stylistic merits are distinctive elements in the prose of J. Brouwers, narrator and controversial essayist, who gained notoriety with the novel Zonsopgangen boven zee (“Albe sul mare”, 1977) and with Bezonken rood (“Red deposited”, 1981). As regards experimental prose, whose themes are often oriented towards social and political commitment, in addition to the works of HC ten Berge, we recall the novels Mannekino (“Manichino”, 1968) and De sirkelbewoners (“The residents of the circle », 1970) by S. Polet. Strongly influenced by the Frankfurt School and the nouveau roman is JF Vogelaar, with his editing techniques and the revolutionary use of the language (Anatomie van een glasachtig lichaam “Anatomy of a vitreous body “, 1966; Raadsels van het rund “Enigmi del ox “, 1978; Verdwijningen “Disappearances”, 1988). The writer L. van Marissing, who made her debut in the early 1970s, also uses editing techniques in her anti- novel Ontbinding (“Decomposition”, 1972), in De omgekerde wereld (” The world in reverse”, 1975) and Het gedroomde leven / Een denkbeeldig onderzoek (“The dreamed life / An imaginary search”, 1979). The socio-political commitment expressed by the experimental group is also shared by authors who are openly oriented towards a more realistic approach and towards more accessible forms of expression. We remember FM Arion, with Afscheid van de Koningin (“Farewell from the queen”, 1975), and the writers A. Meulebelt, with De schaamte voorbij (“Beyond modesty”, 1976), and H. Meinkema, with the very popular En dan is er koffie (“And then there is coffee”, 1976). For Netherlands 2016, please check softwareleverage.org.

In the early 1970s, in reaction to experimental prose, the phenomenon of anecdotal realism was born which finds its most appropriate formulation in the short story, sometimes very short, written in a usual language and centered on ironically insignificant characters. The model most followed is that of Heeresma, who, together with Netherlands Andriesse and H. Plomp, published in 1970 the Manifest van de jaren zeventig (“Manifesto of the Seventies”). The young authors who inaugurated anecdotal realism are, alongside Plomp, H. Vervoort, J. Donkers, G. Luijters and the writer M. van Keulen, who in Bleekers zomer (“The summer of B.”, 1972), Van lieverlede (“A little by little”, 1975) and Overspel («Adulterio», 1982) stands out for the stylistic precision and effectiveness of the dialogues. The movement acquires greater importance and artistic depth with the contribution of three authors, in whose work reality is represented in a deeper perspective and the theme is enriched with romantic suggestions: FB Hotz, of which we remember the collection of short stories Eb en vloed (“High and low tide”, 1987); JMA Bisheuvel, whose stories bear an autobiographical and surrealist imprint (In de bovenkooi “In the upper berth”, 1972; De verpletterende werkelijkheid “The crushing reality”, 1979); M. ‘t Hart, who achieves success with Een vlucht regenwulpen (1978; trans. It. A flight of curlews, 1984). Starting from 1974, with the publication of the review De revisor (“Il revisore”), another important orientation emerges which identifies in the narrative technique an autonomous artistic element to which the content is subordinate. The highly structured prose of De revisor is placed between the realistic and the experimental literature, rejecting the anecdotism of the first and the experimentation as an end in itself of the second, and is represented in a particular way by four authors who are consciously linked to those forms and techniques that with Joyce have become part of an international literary tradition. Chief among these is DA Kooiman with Souvenirs (1974), De grote stilte (“The great silence”, 1975) and De vertellingen van een verloren dag (“The stories of a lost day”, 1980); follows N. Matsier with Oud Zuid (“Old South”, 1976) and Onbepaald vertraagd (“Delayed indefinitely”, 1979); D. Meijsing, with De kat achterna (“Chasing the cat”, 1977), Tijger, tijger! (“Tigre, tigre!”, 1980) and Utopia of de geschiedenissen van Thomas (“Utopia or the stories of Thomas”, 1982); finally F. Kellendonk with BouvalRuin », 1977), De nietsnut («The good for nothing», 1979) and Mystick lichaam («Mystical body», 1986). In the same area are O. de Jong, with De hemelvaart van Massimo (“The ascension of M.”, 1977), Opwaaiende zomerjurken (“Waving summer skirts”, 1979) and Cirket in het gras (“Circle in the grass”, 1985); AFT van der Heijden, with Een gondel in de Herengracht (“A gondola on the H.”, 1978) and the cycle De tandeloze tijd (“Toothless time”, 1983, 1985, 1990); L. de Winter, with De (ver) wording van de jongere Dürer (“The (de) generation of the young D.”, 1978), Zoeken naar Eileen W. (“Looking for EW”, 1981), and Hoffman’s honger (” Hunger of H. “, 1990). It can be placed in the context of this orientation which has the relationship between imagination and reality as its central point C. Nooteboom with Rituelen (1980; trans. It. Rituals, 1993) and Een lied van schijn en wezen (1981; trans. It. The song of being and appearing, 1991).

With due caution, the division into currents also applies from the 1980s onwards; some of the authors who made their debut around the 1950s continue to occupy a prominent place and publish their works: remember De heren van de thee (1992; trans. it. The lords of tea, 1994) by Haasse, Au pair ( 1989) by Hermans, Bezorgde ouders (“Concerned parents”, 1988) by Reve, De ontdekking van de hemel (“The discovery of the sky”, 1992) by Mulisch. Among the new authors, mainly narrators, A. van Dis has aroused particular interest with Zilver of het verlies van de onschuld (“Silver or the loss of innocence”, 1988) and Het beloofde land (“The Promised Land”, 1990); GJ Zwier with De inquisiteur (“The Inquisitor”, 1989); B. Büch with De kleine blonde dood (“The little blonde death”, 1985) and Het dolhuis (“The madhouse”, 1989); K. Freriks with Soevereine actrice (“Sovereign Actress”, 1983); J. Zwagermann with Gimmik! (1988). Surprisingly numerous is the representation of women: M. Höveler ( Mooi was Maria «Bella era M.», 1985; Tragisch wonen «Abitare tragicamente », 1987); M. de Moor ( Dubbelportret “Double portrait”, 1989); N. Heykamp ( De stenenzoeker “The stone collector”, 1985; Schoon van gestalte «Of beautiful presence», 1988); T. de Loo ( De meisjes van de sutkerwerkfabriek “The girls of the confetti factory”, 1983; De tweeling “The twins”, 1993); F. Bourgogne ( De terugkeer «The return», 1986; Wat het water gaf «What the water gave», 1989); M. Brouwers ( De feniks, een familiekroniek “The phoenix, a family chronicle”, 1985; De lichtjager “The hunter of light”, 1990); H. de Graaf ( Aanklacht tegen onbekend “Accusation against the unknown”, 1987; Stella Klein, 1990); V. van der Meer ( Een warme rug “A warm back”, 1987; De reis naar het kind “The journey towards the child”, 1989); C. Palmen (De wetten, 1991, trans. It. The laws, 1993; De vriendshap “Friendship”, 1995; Lucifer, 2007).

Netherlands Literature From the End of 20th Century to the Beginning of the 21st Century