Jacqueline Oud - Culture

Dutch Literature - About its authors


This article, part of the series on Dutch Literature, aims to take you to the world of the Dutch known and/or interesting authors whether nowadays or classical. It is obvious that I cannot be exhaustive in listing them all and a certain priority might take place to those I prefer, though I will try to stay objective.

Some important Dutch Authors:

  • J. Bernlef: author of many moderns novels as well as theater plays and poems. His theme is the behavior of "lost" men. He won several prices for his books. Main books: "Hersenschimmen, 1984; "Publiek Geheim", 1987.
  • Simon Carmiggelt: very known for his small stories and collomns in newspapers and his humoristic way of writing about daily life. He won several prices.
  • Hugo Claus: an important Flamish author who also writes theater plays and poetry and is sculpor and filmp producer. A main book of him: "Het verdriet van België", 1983.
  • Louis Couperus: A very important author of his period. A main issue in his work is fate and most of his novels take place among the bougeoisie of The Hague. His main books: "Eline Vere", "De Boeken der Kleine zielen", "Van oud mensen, de dingen die voorbij gaan". His book "Eline Vere" was also filmed.
  • Adriaan van Dis: a very contemporain author. His books are about the relation of East India and the coming back to the Netherlands. Almost all his books have autobiographical influences. He wrote also some travel books. His main books: "Nathan Sid", Indische Duinen".
  • Frederik van Eeden: theater play writer originally but afterwards also very much appreciated for his novels. He was a psychiater and this reflects in his books. His main book: "Van de Koele meren des doods".
  • Anna Enquist: very recent author and internationally known. Her books are full of psychology and piano, as well as influenced by the death of her child. The book "Het Meeesterwerk (A Masterpiece)" made her enter the world of known Dutch authors.
  • Desiderius Erasmus: well he was Dutch though should be called European and though being part of the classical authors his work is still very intersting. His best known novel is "De Lof der Zotheid (Laus Stultitiae)" but studies still continue to translate his work such as "Het boek tegen de barbarij (Liber Antibarbarorum)".
  • Hella S. Haasse: She got known with her book "Oeroeg" in 1948 when it was a present during the "Dutch Week of books". Ever since she has continued writing and we are very gratefull to her. Many of her books are based on historical facts and she is considered a real geat Dutch Author and still writing. Some of her books are: "De Heren van de Thee (in French translated under: Les seigneurs du Thé)", "De Scharlaken Stad (The Scarlet City)", but also "Het Woud der Verwachting". Several of her books won important Dutch literature prices.
  • Maarten’t Hart: This author is not only known for his novels bu also for his journalism and essays. His books are much influenced by his origin from a strict protestant family. Some of his books are: "De vrouw bestaat niet" and "Een vlucht regenwulpen", this book was also filmed.
  • Willem Frederik Hermans: Very famous Dutch author who unfortunately died in 1995. His books have often the 2nd World War as a reference but he tried a large variety of literature currents and was very successful in them. He won various prices but refused one important one of them (the PC Hooftprijs). He lived the last 20 years abroead in Paris and Bruxelles. Some of his books are: "De tranen de acacia’s", "De donkere kamer van Damocles", "Het behouden huis", "Nooit meer slapen", "Onder talloos veel miljoenen" and " Onder professoren".
  • Hubert Lampo: A Flamish author and the represenative of the current of Magical realism where the daily events are being mixed with imagination and dreams. His most known book is "De komst van Joachim Stiller".
  • Tessa de Loo: This is the pseudonym for Johanna Martina Duyvenné de Wit. She is a very recent author and got known with the short stories from "De meisjes van de suikerwerkfabriek" in 1983, for which she got 2 prices. The books that followed appears to have been more controversed. The books "De tweeling (the twins)" has also been filmed and presented abroad.
  • Harry Mulisch: Is part of the main Dutch authors still alive and active. His work e started his work with surrealism and psychology. I believe he received all the important Dutch literature pices and two of his books was filmed from which one, "De aanslag (+/- The attack)" even won an Oscar. Some of his books are: "Voer voor psychologen", "Het stenen bruidsbeeld", "Twee vrouwen", " De procedure (the procedure)" and "De ontdekking van de hmel (Discovery of Heaven - filmed)".
  • Multatuli: The pseudonym for Eduard Dauwe Dekker and means "I have suffered much". He is considered to be the best known author of he 19th century and his work the most popular is and was "Max Havelaar". In other works he tried to reform the thoughts and way of thinking of the population and he was against considered the Christianity as being dishonest.
  • Nescio: The pseudonym for J.H.F Gronlöh (1882-1961) who wrote some very nice novels, "Dichtertje", "De uitvreter" and "Titaantjes". His theme is about young and idealistic and artistic people that are being "prisoned" by the socially approved way of how one should live.
  • Simon Vestdijk: The most productif Dutch author who died in 1971 left us an huge quantity of novels, books and poetry. He is very famous for his cycle "Anton Wachter" - considered half biographical. He received he famous P.C Hooftprijs for his book "De vuuraanbidders (literaly: The woreshippers of Fire)".
  • Jan Wolkers: Sculpture and author was very famous for his open minded way of writing about sexuality. Some of his books are: "Terug naar Oestgeest", "Kort Amrikaans" - filmed and "Turks Fruit" - filmed too. Some of his themes are influenced by the bible and the sins. He accepted the P.C. Hooftprijs but refused another price.

Dutch Authors of Childrens books

  • Thea Beckman: She has written many books that were mainly all about historical events from throughout the world. Though her books are quite difficult to read she is very popular among the young and her style of writing makes history much more accessible. (many of her books were written in the 80-ties). her most famous book "Kruistocht in spijkerbroek (literally: a pelgrimage in jeans)", consisted of 5 parts.
  • Paul Biegel: Has written many books and most of them are rather adventures and mixing at times some dream aspects. he won many literature prices for his books. Some of his books: "De kleine kapitein", "De tuinen van Dorr" and "De zeven veren van de bonte papagaai".
  • Annie M.G. Schmidt: The Dutch most known author for children that has recently died but left us an enormous treasure of books. Besides author she worked also as writer for theater and cabaret as well as journalyst. She also wrote for the television and radio and I think that everyone in the Netherlands knowns her name. her msot famous book for children are the short stories from "Jip & Janneke" but "Puk van de Petteflat" is also extremely famous - also with adults. Most of her childrens books have been illustrated by Fiep Westendorp.
  • Jan Terlouw: This author proved us that it is possible to mix both politics and the writing of childrens books. He wrote very popular children books with a lot of action and some even based on historical facts such as "Oosterschelde widkracht 10 (about the break through of the dyk in 1953 in the south of the Netherlands) and "Oorlogswinter (about the hunger winters during the war)" but also others as "Koning van Katoren".

Learn more on Dutch literature from the following articles:

[2 November 2003]

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