Dutch language and literature

   Dutch belongs to the Western Germanic section of the Indo-European family of languages. The language is spoken in the Netherlands, part of Belgium (Flan ders), and a small part of northwestern France, as well as in the Netherlands Antilles and the former colony of Surinam. Cognate languages are especially Afrikaans (spoken in the Republic of South Africa) and Frisian (in the province of Frisia). The modern standard language developed from several dialects, the oldest surviving document being a text by Hendrik van Veldeke (c. 1170) written in the dialect of Limburg. The influence of the lan guage spoken and written in the populous and rich province of Hol land had a decisive influence on modern Dutch. Medieval Dutch lit erature was mainly poetry, but romances of chivalry were also written. An influential 13th-century author was Jacob van Maer lant. During the Renaissance, Chambers of Rhetoric stimulated lit erary activities. PieterCornelisz Hooft, Jacob Cats, Gerbrand Adri aensz Bredero (1585–1618), Constantijn Huygens (1596–1687), and Joost van den Vondel (plays and poems) renewed the literature of the Dutch Golden Age with humanist ideas.
   Although the 18th century produced several talented authors (and many hacks), the century is considered a period of decline. Two ex ceptions were Elizabeth (“Betje”) Wolff (1738–1804) and Agatha (“Aagje”) Deken (1741–1804); together, they wrote the letter novel Historie van mejuffrouw Sara Burgerhart (1782). Another prominent writer, somewhat later, was Willem Bilderdijk. Typical books about Dutch 19th-century life were the Camera obscura (1839), written by the minister Nicolaas Beets (1814–1903), and Everhardus (or Ever ardus) Johannes Potgieter’s (1808–1875) Jan, Jannetje en hun jong ste kind (1842), a glorification of the Dutch Golden Age. In the sec ond half of the 19th century, Conrad Busken Huet and Multatuli criticized Dutch morals and opinions. Renewal also came from the Movement of the Eighty, which started the periodical De Nieuwe Gids [The New Guide] in 1885 (e.g., the editors Willem Kloos [1859–1938] and Albert Verwey [1865–1937]). Herman Gorter im pressed with his poem Mei [May] in 1889. Some of the critical authors in the interbellum period were the literary men of the periodical Forum (1932–1935), Simon Vestdijk (1898–1971), Hendrik Marsman (1899–1940), Menno ter Braak (1902–1940), and Edgar du Perron (1899–1940). From the many postwar authors, Willem Frederik Her mans, Gerard Reve, Jan Wolkers, and Harry Mulishare considered among the finest, and Hella Serafia Haasse (1918– ) is famous for her historical novels.
   See also EFFEN, Justus van (1684–1735); Hadewijch; HEINSIUS, Daniel (1641–1720); SCHMIDT, Annie (1911–1995); Theater.

Historical Dictionary of the Netherlands. . 2012.

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