‘An order, within which there’s room for chaos’

The Poetry of M. Vasalis ‘Do not be misled by what you see on the surface; deep down everything has a meaning.’ Rainer Maria Rilke The poetic oeuvre of M. Vasalis (1909-) is admittedly modest in size (only around 100 poems in total, spread over three collections), but her poetry has nonetheless acquired a position…

Martinus Nijhoff, a Dutch Master of Modernism

Martinus Nijhoff (1894-1953) belongs among the most important poets to have emerged from the Dutch-speaking countries in the twentieth century. He has always striven to make his poetry as timeless as possible and, given that he is still one of his country’s most widely read poets, he seems to have succeeded wonderfully. Nijhoff can be…

Man the Player

Huizinga’s ‘Homo Ludens’ Revisited In 1972, in a lecture at the big Huizinga congress in Groningen, Ernst Gombrich made the suggestion that Huizinga’s biography of Erasmus was a form of self-criticism. ‘Somehow the great humanist aroused in him all the ambivalent feelings that sprang from a life-long fight against the temptations of cultured aestheticism.’ Gombrich’s…

‘Auntie Yet’ and Humanity

The Internationalism of Henriette Roland Holst Henriette Roland Holst-van der Schalk (1869-1952), poetess, writer and socialist, is one of the most revered women in the history of the Netherlands. Her contemporaries hailed her as ‘our greatest poet’ and saw her as a prophetess; the proclaimer of a beautiful, pure and righteous future. The historian Johan…