Prometheus Unbound

Essays as an Orphic Counterforce The Dutch – or rather Hollanders, Frisians and Zeelanders – are coastal dwellers, and traditionally their eyes were focused more on the sea than on dry land. As long ago as the early and high Middle Ages, long before the rise of the Hanseatic towns in the East of the…

Arranger of Voices

The Literary Work of Leo Pleysier 1989 saw the publication of White Always Looks Good (Wit is altijd schoon) by the Flemish author Leo Pleysier (1945-), a book which has every hallmark of a novel, but for which the classification ‘novel’ is nonetheless quite inadequate. Apart from the last few pages, it consists entirely of…

Unstable Equilibrium

The Versatility of J. Bernlef Quite a few covers of the books of J. Bernlef (1937-) feature photographs, usually in black-and-white or broken colours. The effect is unspectacular and the same goes for the subjects depicted: a few erratic stones, a coastline full of inlets somewhere in America (as can be seen from a flag),…

Nothing helps.

The Poems of Hans Faverey The spring of 1993, almost three years after his death, saw the publication of the Collected Poems of Hans Faverey (1933-1990): just over five hundred poems in one sober volume on india paper, in an almost classical format. Although the book contained no surprises, no posthumous work or enlightening variants,…

Remco Campert and the Dubious Lightness of Being

If ever a writer in Dutch literature was blessed with eternal youth, that writer was Remco Campert. For decades his books bore witness to an almost provocative insouciance, which was perfectly expressed by the boyish, slightly mocking laugh in most of his portraits. His own preferred image of himself was as he appeared on the…