Three Poems

Song 4 Gibber jabber Gibber jabber shiver shiv crying fist fight fists fight fists grip grit fists clenching woman of a long time ago comes by stamps I gave to the boy of the fourth floor fourth floor? a human being drops from the fourth floor tension trigger calf muscles leap jump drop dropping fists…

From the Message to the Medium

The Poetic Evolution of Paul van Ostaijen Along with the disruption of the values and of the very image of the Western world by philosophy, psychology, ethnography, the exact sciences, industrial development and the resulting political-social crises, the years 1910-1920 saw the birth of a vast movement that injected new life into the arts and…

Cees Nooteboom

Cees Nooteboom (1933-) made his prose debut in 1955 with the novel Philip and the Others (Philip en de anderen), a poetic, melancholy account of an adolescent’s journey through France. It is a classic wanderer’s story about the search for one’s own identity, which places it in the tradition of works like Alain Fournier’s Le…

Visiting Professor

Let’s pretend for a moment that I’m not me; that has its uses on occasion. I’m going to pay myself a visit. My room number is up in the thousands, and to reach it I have to enter a Stalinist building with staircases, lifts and corridors. Behind every door people are in furious pursuit of…

Extract from ‘Parents Falling’

Living in breadth … After having lived almost all that time in Nijmegen ‘in length’, I realized once more what it meant. Once more I could picture my accumulated memories as a mountain that was growing bigger at its base: a mountain worn away by erosion. When I closed my eyes, it rose up before…

Artist in Remembering

The Work of A.F.Th. van der Heijden In 1977 a certain Patrizio Canaponi made his literary debut with a collection of short stories, A Gondola in the Herengracht (Een gondel in de Herengracht). The content of the stories and the press releases concerning the author suggested that the book was a thinly disguised autobiography of…

Miriam Van hee

Miriam Van hee (1952-) made her debut with the collection The Frugal Meal (Het karige maal, 1978). This title, with those of her subsequent collections, marked out the boundaries of her poetic world: Inner Rooms and other Poems (Binnenkamers en andere gedichten, 1980), Snowed In (Ingesneeuwd, 1984), Winterhard (1988) and Travelling Money (Reisgeld, 1992). Time…

Le tréport

wait, he says do not leave yet I never saw you with this harbour behind these gulls about your head so we stayed without reason on the beach the gulls searching a departed ship it is time which goes somewhere bearing our lives sensing it we offered brief resistance for it grew colder we sought…

Postmodernism in the Literature of the Low Countries

The Dutch language area, like the rest of Europe, did not see the term postmodernism come into use until the early 1980s. The interest generated by this new ‘concept of criticism’ soon gave rise to a welter of publications, all more or less inspired by Jean-Francois Lyotard’s philosophical essay, The Postmodern Condition (La condition postmoderne,…

Keeping Up

J. Bernlef’s Driftwood House No successful poet, any more than a successful literary movement, can afford to stand still. This is certainly true of J. Bernlef’s role in the development of Dutch Modernism. When he began writing, it was in reaction to the preceding generation of modernist pioneers known as the Vijftigers. For them poetry…

Grounds for Memory

Colonial Literature from the Former Dutch East Indies The colonial literature of the Netherlands is, with the possible exception of Spanish and Portuguese letters, the most voluminous and innovative of colonial literatures in the Western world. It also has one of the longest traditions. If we restrict ourselves to the literature produced in the former…