This paper focuses on current issues relating to cultural encounters in contemporary Dutch literature. The starting point is transculturality - a concept suggesting a new way of looking at culture that is frequently applied as an alternative to concepts such as multi- and interculturality. This article deals with theoretical issues as well as with the question whether transculturality is appropriate when characterizing how cultural contacts are represented in literature. The results of this case study based on a literary analysis of Kader Abdolah’s short story “Een onbekende trekvogel” provide a strong argument for modifying the concept of transculturality and sharpening awareness for increasing interrelations of individuals, societies, institutions and nations.
In his Geschiedenis van de Russische literatuur [History of Russian Literature, 1985] the famous Dutch Slavist and essayist Karel van het Reve, links Russian writers, such as Gavriil Derzhavin and Aleksei Pisemskii to Dutch and Flemish ones, such as Vondel and Willem Elsschot. Further on, in the chapter on Lev Tolstoi, Multatuli’s Max Havelaar is cited, although it is clear from the start that none of these Dutch-speaking authors could have had any influence on the Russian writers to whom Van het Reve devotes his colourful chapters. In this article I explore the ‘transnational’ potential of Van het Reve’s self-willed literary-historiographical approach. It turns out that Van het Reve mentions most of these Dutch-speaking authors rather to indicate - directly or indirectly - that he (dis)likes them, than to contribute to the achievements of comparative literature. Both in his choice of authors and his way of practicing literary historiography Van het Reve manifests himself as a proponent of the vent (cf. the well-known vorm of vent or manner or man discussion). Nevertheless, some of his observations could be considered as transnational constellations (in the world-literature sense of the term).
This article deals with recent Danish literature in the light of the discussion about canons occasioned by the publication of the two ministerial canons: Undervisningskanon (Educational Canon, 2004) and Kulturkanon (Cultural Canon, 2006). The article argues that recent Danish literature challenges traditional work categories and the concept of the author on which the two canons are based, and discusses which works and texts in recent Danish literature ought to belong to a future canon.
Charles Darwin’s theories were already introduced in Scandinavia in the early 1860s, whereas his two major works, On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871), were translated by Danish writer J.P. Jacobsen in the 1870s. Jacobsen acts as an important intermediary both as a scientist and, probably, the first Danish writer whose work is influenced by Darwin’s thoughts. But also in the writings of other authors of the time, e.g. Herman Bang, at least the name “Darwin” infrequently occurs as is also the case with the symbolist writers of the 1890s, e.g. Viggo Stuckenberg and Sophus Claussen. However, not until after 1900 does Darwin serve as an artistic inspiration and a positive role model. This happens in an overpowering manner in the fictional and essayist works of the Danish Nobel Prizewinner Johannes V. Jensen. Jensen’s Darwinism was not countered until the so-called “livsanskuelsesdebat” - a philosophical debate - during the 1920s with the eloquent poet and dramatist Helge Rode as his acute opponent. Hereafter, Darwin’s role in Danish literature decreases significantly unless one wishes to see Peter Høeg’s novel from 1996, Kvinden og aben (The Man and the Ape) as the last example of a Darwin-influence on a literary text.
In Poland, the name Dagny is well-known because of the sad life and tragic death of the Norwegian wife of the famous and scandalising Polish-German fin de siécle writer Przybyszewski. But not many people know that she was a writer and poet herself, even if not a very prolific one. Her ouevre consists of four short plays, five poems in prose and a handful of poetry. The aim of this article is to analyse her plays and prose in respect of the relations between a man and a woman. Especially, I enquire if Juels work is only an expression of the literary conventions of her epoch, or if she gives her texts an unique (feminine) touch. I attempt to demonstrate that the latter is the case in her dramatic work and especially in her prose poetry.
Einige Bemerkungen zum Finnischen Roman Fegefeuer von Sofi Oksanen
The article is devoted to Sofi Oksanen, one of the most recognizable Finnish authors of the young generation whose literary production has been an unbroken streak of success for the last ten years. It addresses in particular her groundbreaking novel Purge (Puhdistus). In the analysis, the article focuses first and foremost on the aspect of a woman’s corporeality as well as shame and exclusion resulting from sexual abuse. It is one of the central motifs in Osanen’s production. On the example of Aliide the writer depicts, from the feminist point of view, the effects of physical violence towards women used as an element of humiliation and oppression of a conquered nation. The metaphor of a woman’s body as an occupied country gives the novel a universal character and draws attention to the fact that destroying womanhood is a subtle and slow way to the fall of societies. Therefore the deeds of both women are not unambiguously condemned in the novel.
This article examines the (im)possibility of Eurasian identity in Dutch postcolonial novels by second-generation authors such as Marion Bloem and Adriaan van Dis. As a result of Indonesia’s decolonisation 300.000 Dutch nationals came from the former Dutch East Indies to the Netherlands. Among them was a large group of Eurasians, people of mixed Dutch and Indonesian descent. Many of whom had never set foot on the so-called motherland. Although Eurasians had belonged to the European community in the tropics, they were perceived as immigrants by the Dutch government and were subjected to an aggressive, far-reaching assimilation policy - fearing they would otherwise become a major social problem. Their offspring, the so-called second generation, is often assumed to struggle with their identity while growing up in a postcolonial society that did not tolerate cultural differences at the time. What constitutes a Eurasian identity, and can such identities exist after the enforced assimilation of Eurasians in the Netherlands? How do second-generation authors look upon their Eurasian background and how do they portray these assumed identity struggles in postcolonial literature? The texts in question are discussed in relation to theories of hybridity. It is argued that the widespread notion that Eurasians either fall between two stools or grow into examples of hybrid identity are not foregone conclusions.
This contribution is to commemorate Erich von Mendelssohn (1887-1913), a gifted author and a translator of medieval and modern Scandinavian, especially Danish literature, who lamentably passed away at a very young age. It contains a short biography of von Mendelssohn and deals with his poetic (including a so far unknown poem) and prosaic works (Phantasten, Die Heimkehr, Nacht und Tag, Juliana) on one hand and his translations from Danish (works from J. P. Jacobsen, Thit Jensen, and Svend Fleuron) and Old (several sagas) and New Icelandic (Einar H. Kvaran) on the other.