Olla Vogala (hinase) (All Birds (save))

A Canon of Dutch Literature I would like to discuss the Dutch literary canon, and already see storm clouds on the horizon. How do you dare to give a ranking to books, to raise the personal preferences of a few self proclaimed experts to the level of absolute truth, and to solidify living literature into…

Idyllic Exile

In the meantime we are still here, but I shan’t commit myself as to whether that is a good or a bad thing. Recently we were in Amsterdam, on the terrace of the Hotel Américain. I was talking about Gemütlichkeit. This was by no means restricted to the German emigrant milieu. We made Dutch friends;…

Landscape

In the pastures the peaceable beasts are grazing; the herons sail over glittering lakes, the bitterns stand by pools of dark water; and out in the meadows the horses are running with rippling tails over rippling grass. From Collected Poems (Verzamelde gedichten, 1974) By H. Marsman Translated by Tanis Guest First published in The Low Countries,…

No Paradise without a Surveyor

Landscape in Literature Landscape exists. Nature, I’m not so sure. Pure ‘nature’ is wilderness. And where in the Low Countries will you still find wilderness, apart from that which has been carefully planned and laid out? Judith Herzberg gave laconic expression to our intimate-but-detached relationship with ‘nature’: We’re aware just how the grebe transports her…

A Great Neo-Latin Scholar

Jozef IJsewijn and his Life’s Work ‘Classical philology leads to all the rest, provided one gets out of it’. This was certainly the case for Jozef IJsewijn (1932-). When, after studying classical philology in Leuven, he chose to pursue an academic career, the only avenue open to him was papyrology. In 1961 the Latin version…

A Convenient Desert

The Low Countries as a Refuge for the Spirit René Descartes first arrived in the Netherlands in 1618. An officer in the young Republic’s army, which was more or less idle because of the Twelve Years’ Truce, he stayed in Breda for about a year. Subsequently he spent a few years travelling round Central Europe…