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A Literary History of the Low Countries

A Literary History of the Low Countries

Edited by Theo Hermans
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 740
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  • Book Info
    A Literary History of the Low Countries
    Book Description:

    What was the written culture behind visual artists like Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Rubens? What made the historical novel in nineteenth-century Flanders so different from its counterpart in Holland? What was the literary impact of the huge colonial empires r

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-744-9
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. 1: The Middle Ages until circa 1400
    (pp. 1-61)
    Frits van Oostrom

    The history of literature in Dutch begins with a poet who is known to us only from secondary sources, who belonged to both the pagan and Christian cultures, and who sang both psalms and epic verse. That this first-known poet from the Low Countries, Bernlef, was afflicted with blindness endows him with a certain Homeric quality — so there is every reason to choose him as the starting point of this literary history.

    In his hagiographical life of the eighth-century Christian preacher Liudger, who died while doing God’s work in 809, the Frisian bishop Altfried (died 849) relates that this man...

  5. 2: The Late Middle Ages and the Age of the Rhetoricians, 1400–1560
    (pp. 63-151)
    Herman Pleij

    In the late Middle Ages, society in the Low Countries was becoming more and more urban, and this brought with it changes to the literature that flourished there. From the fourteenth century onwards, towns and cities increasingly served as the focal points not only for commerce, finance, and artisan manufacture but also for ecclesiastical authority, worship, the arts, learning, and even courtly life. By the end of the Middle Ages all these activities would be conducted almost exclusively in this urban space. Rather than simply being another arena for things already familiar, the new environment saw the commingling of forms...

  6. 3: The Dutch Revolt and the Golden Age, 1560–1700
    (pp. 153-291)
    E. K. Grootes and M. A. Schenkeveld-Van der Dussen

    The Dutch Revolt against the Habsburg regime of King Philip II of Spain had a decisive impact on the development of Dutch literature from the mid-sixteenth century onward. The civil war that broke out around 1568 brought sweeping changes to the political, economic, and religious landscape, changes that are reflected in literature. By 1590 the seven northern provinces of the Low Countries in effect constituted an independent republic, as distinct from the southern provinces, where Spanish rule was consolidated and strengthened. The growing divide between the two was caused principally by religious differences, the southern Netherlands falling under Counter-Reformation Catholic...

  7. 4: Literature of the Enlightenment, 1700–1800
    (pp. 293-367)
    Marleen de Vries

    As the historian Jonathan Israel has shown, the early Enlightenment represents the single most significant revolution in culture and philosophy since the conversion of Western Europe to Christianity in the fourth century. The last quarter of the seventeenth century and the first quarter of the eighteenth saw the transformation of a traditional society and culture still hierarchical, theocratic, and agrarian into a community that was cosmopolitan, city-oriented, secular, commercial-industrial, and scientific. In this sense the early Enlightenment marks the transition from the premodern to the modern age.

    The Enlightenment was not in fact a single coherent development but rather two...

  8. 5: The Nineteenth Century, 1800–1880
    (pp. 369-461)
    Willem van den Berg

    There is a country almost within sight of the shores of our island, whose literature is less known to us than that of Persia or Hindostan.” So writes the polyglot writer, traveler, and political economist John Bowring (1792–1872), whose interests included Dutch literature among many others. The introduction to Bowring’s Batavian Anthology; or Specimens of the Dutch Poets (London, 1824) constitutes the first English-language survey of Dutch letters, even though the actual anthology stops at the end of the seventeenth century. Five years later it was followed by Bowring’s Sketch of the Language and Literature of Holland, another first....

  9. 6: Renewal and Reaction, 1880–1940
    (pp. 463-571)
    Ton Anbeek, Anne Marie Musschoot and Jaap Goedegebuure

    At the end of the nineteenth century Dutch literature in the Netherlands was radically transformed by the appearance of the socalled Generation of 1880. Of course, even radical transformations never come completely out of the blue. Impulses toward change had been discernible before, but they remained isolated and lacked wider resonance; one example is Busken Huet’s novel Lidewyde, which was discussed in the previous chapter. The strength of the men of 1880 (women played virtually no role in the movement) was that they formed a united front in breaking with the literary conventions that had dominated Dutch literary life until...

  10. 7: The Postwar Period, 1940–
    (pp. 573-656)
    Ton Anbeek and Anne Marie Musschoot

    A young housepainter in a small provincial town in Flanders labors doggedly at his great novel. He has written more than four hundred pages and still there seems to be no end in sight. His wife, practical by nature, decides to intervene. She has read in the newspaper about a new prize for a book, a novel. So she sends her husband off to run some errands and takes advantage of his absence by writing at the bottom of the last full page, “And so on and so on.” She asks a girl in the neighborhood “who was learning to...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 657-666)
  12. List of English Translations of Literary Works
    (pp. 667-706)
  13. Index
    (pp. 707-730)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 731-732)