A Guided Tour of the Gilded Cage

Jan Van Loy Takes the Reader by the Ear ‘It’s not very nice when the rest of the world sees you as an idle layabout’, Jan Van Loy (1964-) told the Flemish newspaper De Standaard in 2006. For years he had cherished the dream of becoming a writer, but not a single text had ever…

The Tale of a Frog

Max Velthuijs, an Artist with More than One Talent All over the world the friendly, green, ever-so-naïve Frog in his red and white striped swimming-trunks is a much loved figure in families, schools, nurseries and libraries. His father and creator Max Velthuijs, a modest Dutch artist who was ‘only trying to do the best he…

‘Awater’ in the UK

Martinus Nijhoff’s First English Volume Two gentlemen in a restaurant in Nijmegen. During dinner one of them says with a sigh what a shame it is to write poetry in a language that reaches so few people as Dutch does. This means that his readership remains somewhat limited, and that weighs on his heart. Eventually…

The Father of Angels

A Novel by Stefan Brijs A fascination with the unusual was already apparent in earlier work by the Flemish writer Stefan Brijs (1969-). In his second novel, Eagle (Arend, 2000) all attention is focused on a sluggish overweight young man trying to rise above and fly beyond the vale of tears in which he finds…

Happiness and Suffering in Utopia Achieved

‘Science does change the world. If part of our humanness is our susceptibility to certain sorts of pain, then the task of curing pain may involve putting an end to humanness.’ (1) That is the weighty conclusion that Martha Nussbaum attaches to her own technical utopia, derived from her discussion of Plato’s Protagoras. Nussbaum starts…

Out of Utopia?

Hans Achterhuis on Welfare and Happiness The words ‘welfare and happiness’ set the tone for the book with which the Dutch philosopher, Hans Achterhuis, would achieve public recognition in 1980. But those words did not stand alone. The title of the book, which gave rise to intense debate about the way in which the state…