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Dutch Literature

Influence of the Bible

The arrival, on October 27, 2004, of the Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling, a completely new translation into Dutch of the Bible and the Christian Apocrypha, initiated a fierce debate in Dutch literary circles. At the core was the major influence of the Bible on Dutch culture and linguistics. Many participants in the discussion lamented the sometimes radical choices the translators had made to rephrase the biblical stories into a modern vernacular. They stated their desire to protect the language and imagery of the Statenbijbel, the official translation of the Bible which was commissioned by the Dutch Reformed Church in the early 17th century. It was completed during the years 1627–37. Similar to its English-language counterpart, the King James Version, the Statenbijbel has enriched the Dutch language with countless beautiful and poetic similes, expressions, and metaphors, most of which are still in use in present-day Dutch.

The original Statenbijbel translation project was one high point in the cultural revolution that brought Calvinism and Humanism to Holland. The Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) led to a new and powerful interest in the Bible as a source of inspiration for a national Dutch identity, which was at that time beginning to assert itself. In a famous poem which later became the Dutch national anthem, "Wilhelmus van Nassouwe," Prince William of Orange was compared to David, king of Israel. The war against Spain was likened to Israel's war against her enemies. Among the many poetic adaptations of the Psalms composed in these times were those of authors such as Philips van Marnix van Sint Aldegonde (1540–1588), and the poets Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft (1581–1647) and Constantijn Huygens (1596–1678).

Humanists and Reformers promoted the study of Hebrew in the Low Countries during the 16th century, particularly in such circles as that of the humanist Antwerp printer Christophe *Plantin (1514–1589), who at one time was obliged to move to Leiden. During the 15th century, biblical drama flourished in the many chambers of rhetoric (Rederijkerskamers) and later poets such as Carel van Mander (1548–1606) and Dirck Volkertszon Coornhert (1522–1590) wrote a number of biblical plays. Outstanding among these authors was Joost van den Vondel, who wrote Joseph in Dothan (1640), Joseph in Egypten (1640), Salomon (1648), Jephta (1659), Samson (1660), and Adam in Ballingschap ("Adam in Exile," 1664). The last work can be compared to *Milton's Paradise Lost.

After the 17th century there was a sharp decline in interest in biblical subjects. In the late 18th century, Willem Bilderdijk wrote some biblical poetry, while Arnold Hoogvliet composed an epic entitled Abraham de Aartsvader ("Abraham the Patriarch," 1729). In the 19th century, Allard Pierson published Israel, the first part of his study Geestelijke Voorouders ("Spiritual Ancestors," 1887–91) and J.L. ten Kate wrote De Schepping ("The Creation," 1866).

Dutch biblical dramatists of the 20th century include H. van den Eerenbeemt, the author of Judith (1916); F. Rutten, who wrote Hagar (1917); and the Flemish poet René de Clercq, the author of biblical stories in verse form such as Thamar (1917). The poet Albert Besnard composed an epic poem about the history of the Jewish people called Drama (1959). In 1945 a Protestant author, H. de Bruin, published Job, a dramatic adaptation of the Book of Job. The Bible and the land of the Bible provide the themes of some of the writing of Roman Catholic poet Bertus Aafjes, notably his poem In den Beginne (1949) and his novels, Vorstin onder de landschappen ("Empress Among Landscapes," 1952) and Arenlezers achter de maaiers ("Gleaners Behind the Reapers," 1952).

During the 20th century Protestant religion lost its prominence in Dutch society. In mainstream fiction, Biblical themes have almost disappeared, the work of author and artist Jan Wolkers (1925–) being the most notable exception. In 1990 Wolkers published Op de vleugelen der profeten ("On the Wings of Prophets"), essays on the beauty of the Bible. As a literary topos, the Bible can be found in the works of novelists Maarten 't Hart, Nicolaas Matsier, and Desanne van Brederode. From the 1960s onwards, poet and novelist Gerard Kornelis van het Reve (1923– ) created an original poetic aesthetic, mixing the language and imagery of the Statenbijbel with Roman Catholic mysticism and explicit references to homosexuality. This literary style is known as Revisme ("Revism").

Hebraic Influences on the Dutch Language

The influence of the Statenbijbel on the Dutch language can not be overestimated. Expressions deriving from this translation are still current in literature and colloquial usage. Besides such common words as Satan, cherubijn, etc., there are expressions like "met de mantel der liefde bedekken" ("to cover with the coat of love"), borrowed from the story of Noah (Gen. 9:23). The influence of Yiddish began to be felt with the appearance of Dutch books by Jewish authors, which contained Yiddish expressions. Some Yiddish words that have become part of standard Dutch are Mokum, the popular nickname for Amsterdam ("place," from makom); bajes ("prison," from bayit); gabber ("friend," from ḥaver); stiekem ("in secret," from shetikah); and lef ("courage," from lev). Many more are to be found in popular speech and thieves' slang – jatten ("to steal," from yad), and kapoeres ("gone to pieces," from kapparah). Others which were mainly used by Jews are disappearing with the dwindling of the Jewish community in Holland.

The Jewish community has coined some Dutch words for its specific linguistic needs. By subtly changing the prefix of verbs and nouns, meaning has shifted – predominantly in the verbs aanbijten (lit. "to bite onto," to break the fast after Yom Kippur) and uitkomen (lit. "to come out," to convert to Judaism), and the noun voorzanger (lit. "singer in front," Cantor), which are not in use outside the Jewish community.

The Figure of the Jew in Dutch Literature

The physical presence of Jews in the Netherlands is not reflected in medieval Dutch literature. The Jew is made to symbolize the forces of evil, and his sufferings are pointed to as proof of the Christian concept of history. Examples of this are to be found in the Rijmbijbel of Jacob van Maerlant (c. 1235–1300), in the same writer's Spieghel Historiael, in Vanden Levene Ons Heren ("On the Life of Our Lord") by an unknown 13th-century author, and in various other sources. A literary record of the pogroms following the plague of 1350 occurs in Brabantse Yeesten by Jan van Boendale. The alleged use of the blood of Christian children for healing purposes was described in the Bienboek, a medieval Dutch version of the Liber Apum by Thomas de Cantimpré. Van Boendale's Van den Joden ende van haren Wesen ("Of the Jews and Their Nature") was a more rational work. The secular morality poem Der minnen Loep ("The Course of Love") by Dirck Potter (c. 1370–1428) denounces sexual intercourse with Jews. The Shylock motive appears in the fragmentary rhetorical play Van den Gedinge tusschen eenen Coopman ende eenen Jode ("On the Case Between a Merchant and a Jew," c. 1515).

Despite the increase in the number of Jews in Holland during the 17th century, none of the great authors of the Golden Age dealt with Jewish themes, with the exception of Joost van den Vondel, who wrote the poem Aan de Joodsche Rabbijnen as an addendum to the play Hierusalem verwoest (1620). On the other hand, many chronicles deal with Jews, mostly from a Christian, antisemitic point of view. An exception is the treatise on Jews and the Jewish religion in Bewijs van den waren godsdienst ("Proof of the True Religion") by the great Dutch jurist Hugo *Grotius. After a speculation scandal in 1720, Jews began to appear in low comedy, satirical poetry, and scurrilous writings. Examples are to be found in the unfinished comedy of manners De Spiegelder Vaderlandsche Kooplieden ("Mirror of Native Merchants," 1720) by Pieter Langendijk. Two periodicals founded by Justus van Effen, Spectatoriale Geschriften and De Hollandsche Spectator, were influenced in their attitude toward the Jews by the ideas of the Enlightenment.

In the 19th century, too, the number of literary works dealing with Jewish themes was very small. They include the poem De Israelitische Looverhut by Antonie Christiaan Wynand Staring; descriptions of middle-class Jews in the Camera Obscura (1839) of Hildebrand (pen name of Nicolaas Beets); descriptions of the Amsterdam ghetto in the novel Woutert e Pieterse (2 vols., 1865–77) by Multatuli (pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker); and the antisemitic novel Jeanne Colette by W. Paap. At the beginning of the 20th century, Jewish types appear in the short stories collected in Vluchtige begroetingen ("Casual Greetings," 1925) by Aart van der Leeuw. An exotic Jewish girl figures in the novel Tobias en de dood ("Tobias and Death," 1925) by Jan van Oudshoorn (pen name of J.K. Feylbrief). The *Wandering Jew motif is to be found in the novel De wandelende Jood (1906) by the Flemish author August Vermeylen. The poet Johan Andreas dèr Mouw was the only writer who tried to analyze his attitude toward Jews.

The first writer to react to rising Nazism and the persecution of the Jews was the outstanding essayist Menno ter Braak, who had a great influence on Dutch literature. The change of attitude to Jewish themes brought about by World War II can be gauged by a comparison of two novels by Simon Vestdijk (1898–1971): Else Boehler, Duits dienstmeisje ("Else Boehler the German Maid," 1935) and De rimpels van Esther Ornstein ("The Wrinkles of Esther Ornstein," 1958). A writer who often used Jewish themes was Ferdinand Bordewijk, whose novels show a progressively antisemitic tendency. His works include the collections of short stories Fantastische vertellingen ("Fantastic Stories," 3 vols. 1919–24), and the novels Noorderlicht ("Northern Lights," 1948) and Bloesemtak ("Blossoming Branch," 1955).

In the years immediately after World War II, there was a remarkable increase in literary works dealing with Jewish themes and fictional characters. Some writers, like August Defresne in his play De naamloozen van 1942 ("The Nameless of 1942," 1945), tried to prove the unequivocally sympathetic attitude of the Dutch people toward the Jews. The theme of other works is the absence of differences between Jews and non-Jews, as in Volg het spoor terug ("Follow the Track Back," 1953), an essay by J.B. Charles (pseudonym of W.H. Nagel), and in the novel De ondergang van de familie Boslowits ("The Ruin of the Boslowits Family," 1946) by Gerard Kornelis van het Reve. Nel Noordzij deals with collective guilt feelings as a personal experience in Variaties op een moederbinding ("Variations on a Mother Attachment," 1958), and with Jewish self-hate in her novel Het kan me niet schelen ("I Don't Care," 1955).

The difficulties arising in mixed marriages as a result of traumatic war experiences form the theme of several novels, including De donkere kamer van Damocles ("The Dark Room of Damocles," 1958) by Willem Frederik Hermans, Het wilde feest ("The Intruder," 1952) by Adriaan van der Veen, Allanggeleden ("A Long Time Ago," 1956) by W.G. van Maanen, and Jan Wolkers' Kort Amerikaans ("Short American,"1962). A worthy attempt to draw an authentic Jewish portrait is that by the Flemish writer Marnix Gijsen (pseudonym of Jan-Albert Goris), who went to live in New York in 1939, in his short stories "Kaddisj voor Sam Cohn" and "De school van Fontainebleau" in the collection De Diaspora (1961).

During the 1960s and 1970s, Dutch literature shifted direction as a result of rising tides of realism and early post-modernism. Also, many Jewish writers came into their own, with a staggering growth of publications on Holocaust and post-Holocaust themes. As a result, Jewish experience and the place of the Jew in Dutch society became almost a taboo subject for non-Jewish writers. Jews all but vanished as characters in fiction by non-Jewish authors, with the exception of Erik Hazelhoff Roelfzema's Soldaat van Oranje ("Soldier of Orange"), which was published in 1971, a picaresque autobiographical novel about his travails during 1940–45 that included a Jewish love interest. The crime fiction that Jan-Willem van de Wetering wrote during the 1970s and 1980s features a minor character who is a Sephardi Jew.

It took until the late 1980s for a Jew to return to Dutch fiction. The novel Mystiek Lichaam, published in 1986 by acclaimed author Frans Kellendonk (1951–1990), caused a major literary scandal. Kellendonk uses the relationship between two siblings in a Roman Catholic family as the backdrop for an exposition of the intrinsic Otherness of homosexuality and Jewishness in Dutch society. Some critics denounced the novel as antisemitic. Since then, not many non-Jewish writers have dared touch the subjects of Jewish history, Jewish identity, and Judaism.

The Jewish community in the former Dutch colony of *Surinam has a long history. Cynthia Macleod-Ferrier (1936– ), a writer from Surinam, described the experiences of a fictional Jewish family at an 18th century plantation in Hoeduur was de suiker (1987, "How Expensive Was the Sugar"). In children's fiction Karlijn Stoffels' novel about two friends during the Holocaust, Mosje en Reizele (1996, "Moshe and Reizele"), attracted a large audience.

The Jewish Contribution to Dutch Literature


The Sephardi Jews, arriving in Amsterdam toward the end of the 16th century, were the first Jewish writers in Holland. Although they wrote in Latin, Spanish, and Hebrew, they made a significant contribution to Dutch literature. Prominent among them were poets such as Jacob Israel *Belmonte; Paulo de Pina, author of the biblical morality play Dialogo dos Montes (1624); the satirist Abraham (Diego) Gómez Silveyra; and the dramatist and poet Antonio Enríquez *Gómez. A vast but inaccurate source for the history of the Amsterdam Sephardi Jews is the poetry of Miguel (Daniel Levi) de *Barrios. Other important cultural figures were the scholar and statesman Manasseh Ben *Israel and the philosophers Uriel da *Costa and Baruch *Spinoza (see also Spanish and Portuguese *Literature).

The literary production of the Ashkenazi Jews did not cross over into Dutch society in general. Until the 1750s Ashkenazi Jews mainly wrote in Yiddish. In addition to translations of religious books, they made adaptations of secular literature, such as the *Bove-Buch, Josef Maarsen's Sjeine artliche Geschichten (1710) translated from *Boccaccio's Decamerone, and a translation of the Travels of Benjamin of Tudela (1691) by Ḥayyim ben Jacob.

During the second half of the 18th century, the elite of the Jewish community slowly gained entrance into Dutch society through their growing ease with the Dutch language. A handful of young Amsterdam Jews actively participated in the revolutionary movements of 1787 and 1795. Some Jewish revolutionaries contributed to magazines and pamphlets in Dutch, marking the entrance of Dutch Jewry into Dutch letters. The emancipation of the Jewish nation, as declared by the French in 1796, officially opened the doors for their entrance into Dutch society.


The 19th and early 20th centuries saw a gradual entry of a growing number of educated Jews into most walks of Dutch life. Jews went into law, medicine, commerce, and the fine arts. They entered journalism, the theater, and the entertainment industry. The advent of liberalism and socialism profoundly influenced Jewish intellectuals. Jewish writers reflected upon social inequality and depicted scenes of squalor and misery in the poorer Jewish communities and working-class neighborhoods of the major cities. Also, many explored Jewish self-hatred, assimilation, and, to an extent, Zionism.

The first writer of Portuguese-Jewish descent to contribute to Dutch literature proper was the poet Isaac da *Costa, who at first worked for Jewish emancipation but converted to the Reformed Church in 1822 under the influence of the poet William Bilderdijk. Da Costa was active in the Protestant Réveil movement, which strove for a deepening of religious experience. His works include a collection of poetry, De Chaos en het Licht ("Chaos and Light," 1850–53); the biblical drama Hagar (1848); and studies on various Jewish themes. Da Costa's friend Abraham Capadose (1795–1874), who also converted, was another early contributor to Dutch literature. He wrote several conversionist works, including Rome en Jeruzalem (1851). Other 19th-century authors were the satirist Mark Prager Lindo, the poetess Estella Hijmans Hertzveld, and the novelist Arnold Aäron Aletrino.

Herman *Heijermans, who is generally considered the most important playwright of his time, wrote naturalistic works reflecting the struggle with Jewish identity and social involvement. His many outstanding books include the novel Diamantstad ("Diamond City," 1904); Ghetto (1898), a drama of Amsterdam Jewish life; and a play about the life of fishermen, Op hoop van zegen ("The Good Hope," 1900), which is generally considered one of the best plays ever written in Dutch. The Sephardi author Israël *Querido wrote a number of novels on "ghetto" life, as well as several biblical works. His brother, the publisher Emanuel Querido (1871–1943), was also an author. Other writers of the time were Samuel C. Goudsmit; Willem Schürmann (1879–1915), the author of the "ghetto" play De Violiers (1912); and the anti-assimilationist rabbi Meyer de Hond (1873–1943), author of Kiekjes ("Snapshots," 1926).

Jewish national feelings dominate the works of M.H. van Campen and a few other writers. A.B. Kleerekoper (1850–1943), who was a minor Hebrew poet, wrote a Dutch adaptation of Song of Songs, Het Hooglied Zangen van Liefde (1903). A. van Collem (1858–1933), the first president of the Dutch Zionist Organization, wrote Russische melodieën (1891), the story of a pogrom, and the lyrical poem God (1930). Outstanding for his religious poetry was Jacob Israël de *Haan, a controversial figure who was assassinated in Jerusalem. His collection Het Joodsche Lied ("The Jewish Song," 2 vols., 1915–21) is among the finest religious poetry of modern times. De Haan's sister, the novelist Carry van *Bruggen, whose writing was mainly autobiographical, often dealt with the rift between Jewish parents and children. Sebastian Bonn (1881–1930) wrote some fine poems in both Dutch and Yiddish on Jewish and socialist themes, notably those collected in Gewijde Liederen ("Sacred Songs," 1926). The literary critic and poet Victor Emanuel van *Vriesland published an essay on Jewish literature, De cultureele noodtoestand van het Joodsche volk (1915). An important impressionistic poet was Herman van den *Bergh. The Catholic convert Herman de Man (1898–1946) wrote regional novels such as Het wassende water ("Rising Water," 1926). Jewish themes play a large part in the works of the novelist and literary critic Siegfried Emanuel van *Praag. Among his books were Jerusalem van het Westen ("Jerusalem of the West," 1961), an account of vanished Amsterdam Jewish life, and the monograph De West-Joden en hun letterkunde sinds 1860 ("The Western Jews and Their Literature Since 1860," 1926). The novelist Maurits *Dekker wrote on Jewish and socialist themes, his works including Brood ("Bread," 1933) and De laars op de nek ("The Jackboot on the Neck," 1945), an account of the German occupation of Holland. Another writer with strong socialist leanings was David de Jong (1898–1963), whose collection of poems, Eenzame opstandigheid ("Lonely Revolt," 1925), displays deep melancholy. Dola de Jong (1905–2003), who settled in New York and Los Angeles, wrote the novel En de akker is de wereld ("And the Field Is the World," 1947).


World War II and the Holocaust are generally seen as the watershed in Dutch history. Since 1945, all Jewish novelists, poets, and playwrights have in one way or another reflected on the Holocaust. Some have published their prewar memoirs, others have written about their experiences in hiding or in the Nazi death and concentration camps. A younger generation has taken on the subject of the wartime and postwar experiences of their relatives. This contemplation has taken shape in many different genres. Some authors pursued careers in academia, commerce, journalism, or the stage before turning to writing fiction. Others were already well-established writers when they finally found the courage to give an autobiographical account of their wartime experiences.

War journals are headed by the world-famous diary of Anne *Frank, Het Achterhuis (1946; The Diary of a Young Girl, 1952). Others are Brieven uit Westerbork ("Letters from Westerbork," 1961) by Etty Hillesum (1914–1943), whose letters and diaries were rediscovered and reprinted in the 1970s, with dazzling commercial success. The diary In Depot (1964) by Philip Mechanicus (1899–1944) was also rediscovered by a younger audience in the 1970s and again in the 1990s.

Jacob *Presser wrote prose and poetry inspired by World War II experiences, and the two-volume historical study Ondergang. De vervolging en verdelging van het Nederlandse Jodendom 19401945 (1965; Ashes in the Wind: The Destruction of Dutch Jewry, 1969). The prominent Zionist and lawyer Abel *Herzberg wrote factual stories on the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, such as Amor Fati (1946) and Brieven aan mijn kleinzoon ("Letters to My Grandson," 1964).

A fine autobiographical novel on the war is Het bittere kruid (1957; Bitter Herbs, 1960) by Marga *Minco. She has continued publishing one novella per decade, in a sober, washed-out style.

Clara Asscher-Pinkhof (1896–1984), who settled in Israel, wrote about children in Bergen-Belsen in her novel Sterrekinderen ("Starchildren," 1946; Hebrew, Yaldei ha-Kokhavim, 1965); Meyer Sluyser (1901–1973), a popular radio commentator, wrote several novels on vanished Jewish life in Amsterdam, notably Voordat ik het vergeet ("Before I Forget," 1956). Another war writer was Salvador Hertog (1901–1989), author of the novel De Tuin ("The Garden," 1957) and Meijer en ik ("Meijer and I," 1980).

Early postwar poets include Maurits *Mok, author of Aande Vermoorden uit Israel ("To the Murdered of Israel," 1950); Leo Vroman (1915– ), who settled in New York and wrote in Dutch and English; and Hannie Michaelis (1922– ). Novelist Josepha Mendels (1902–1995), who settled in Paris, tasted literary success only late in life, when her novels about Jewish family life Rolien en Ralien (Rolien and Ralien, 1947), and Alsvuur en rook (1950; Like Ashes and Smoke) were rediscovered by an eager young readership.


Judith Herzberg (1934– ), the youngest daughter of Abel Herzberg, made her literary debut as a poet with Zeepost ("Seamail," 1963). She developed into the most important poet and playwright of her generation. She is revered for her clarity of style and her use of seemingly simple language. She based 27 liefdesliedjes (1971, "27 Love Songs") on the biblical Song of Songs. She succesfully translated and adapted classics of the Yiddish theater The Golem and The Dybuk for the Dutch stage. Her play Leedvermaak (1982) was chosen the best play of the 1980s by her peers. It deals with the unspoken trauma of a family of Holocaust survivors and the younger generations of child survivors and Jews born after 1945. Herzberg subsequently wrote two more plays revolving around the Leedvermaak characters, Rijgdraad (1995) and Simon (2003).

The literary career of Harry *Mulisch (1930– ) has spanned decades. He broke new ground in the early 1980s with his highly successful De aanslag ("The Assault," 1981). In 1985, the film by Dutch director Fons Rademakers based on the novel won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Mulish had dealt with Jewish themes in his novel Het stenen bruidsbed ("The Stone Bridal Bed," 1959) and wrote an account of the *Eichmann trial, De zaak 40/61 (1968). His major epic on the world's redemption, as seen from a Jewish perspective through the unwitting ministrations of a Dutch boy, De ontdekking van de hemel (1992; The Discovery of Heaven, 1996), established his reputation worldwide.

A generation after the Holocaust, Dutch Jews who had pursued non-literary careers started putting their wartime experiences on paper. This has resulted in some exquisite fiction that has reached a large international audience. Andreas Burnier, the pen name of criminologist Catharina R. Dessaur (1931–2002), published Het jongensuur (The Boys' Hour, 1969), the first of many novels and essays on Judaism, ethics, and religion. Physicist Jona Oberski (1938– ) wrote Kinder-jaren (1978; Childhood, 1983), a memoir of his experiences in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as a small boy. Sociologist Gerhard Durlacher (1928–1996), a prewar refugee from Baden-Baden in Germany, did not dare to start writing fiction until the 1980s. His small body of work includes Strepen aan de hemel (1985; Stripes in the Sky, 1992), Drenkeling (1985, Drowning: Growing up in the Third Reich, 1993), and De zoektocht (1991; The Search: The Birkenau Boys, 1998). Lisette Lewin, who had previously worked as a journalist, published her semi-autobiographical novel Voor bijna alles bang geweest (" Having Been Afraid of Almost Anything," 1989). Eli Asser, a popular writer for television and the stage, changed direction in the early 1990s, which resulted in his war memoir Rembrandt was mijn buurman ("Rembrandt Was My Neighbor," 1995).

The autobiographical novel Brief aan mijn moeder ("Letter to My Mother," 1974) by journalist and theater critic Ischa (Israel Chaim) Meijer (1943–1995) is credited with shattering the taboo that children of Holocaust survivors have no cause to complain. Meijer luridly described his troubled childhood amongst Holocaust survivors. In Meijer's wake many new, younger writers have emerged who have grappled with the Holocaust "as part of their mental history, if not their own physical history," in the words of author Marcel Möring. This intense inner search has led to a large body of novels, poetry, and plays.

Leon de Winter (1954– ) is both a novelist and a screenwriter. He started out as the highly literary author of De (ver)wording van de jonge Dürer ("The Corruption of Young Dürer," 1979), Place de la Bastille (1981), and Zoeken naar Eileen ("In Search of Eileen," 1981). With the publication of Kaplan (1986) De Winter seemed to have changed his pace. His Jewish characters, bitter humor, and use of literary techniques often used in crime fiction have made him a bestselling novelist, both in Holland and abroad, with Hoffman's Honger ("Hoffman's Hunger," 1990), SuperTex ("SuperTex," 1991), De ruimte van Sokolov ("Sokolov's Space," 1992), Zionoco (1995), De hemel van Hollywood ("The Heaven Above Hollywood," 1997), and God's gym (2002). Many of his novels were adapted for film or television.

Marcel Möring's (1957– ) highly accomplished novels Mendels Erfenis ("Mendels Heritage," 1990), Het grote verlangen (1995; The Great Longing, 1995), In Babylon (1997; In Babylon, 1999), and Modelvliegen (2001; The Dream Room, 2002) seriously explore the emotional entanglement of children of Holocaust survivors, a theme also explored by Wanda Reisel (1955– ) in her novel Het beloofde leven (1995).

Arnon Grunberg (1973– ) has been called the most interesting young author in the Dutch language. He made his debut with the novel Blauwe Maandagen (1994; Blue Mondays, 1996). Grunberg moved to New York in the 1990s, but has continued to write in Dutch and concern himself with Dutch society. His novels De figuranten ("The Extra's," 1997), Fantoompijn (2000; Phantom Pain, 2002), De asielzoeker (2002; "The Asylumseeker"), and De Joodse Messias (2004, "The Jewish Messiah") gained him prominence. He has published poetry and essays, made a new version of Desiderius Erasmus' Lof der Zotheid (1509, The Praise of Folly), called De mensheid zij geprezen. ("Humanity Be Praised," 2001). Grunberg also makes use of the not overtly Jewish pseudonym Marek van der Jagt. Both Grunberg and Van der Jagt have won many Dutch and international literary prizes.

In fiction for children and young people, the novel Chaweriem ("Hawerim" (Hebrew for "Friends"), 1995) stands out as a modest Dutch classic. In this tale of a group of young Jews wanting to immigrate from Holland to Israel, Leonard de Vries (1919–2002) caught the hopes of young child survivors for a better future. Child survivor Ida Vos (1931– ) has gained prominence with her many novels for children: Wie niet wegis wordt gezien (1981; Hide and Seek, 1995), Dansen op de brug van Avignon (1989; Dancing on the Bridge of Avignon 1995), Anna is er nog (1991; Anna Is Still Here, 1995), Witte Zwanen, Zwarte Zwanen ("White Swans, Black Swans," 1992), De sleutel is gebroken (1996; The Key Is Lost, 2000), and De lachende engel ("The Laughing Angel," 2000).

Dutch literary critics include Joseph Melkman (1914– ), who settled in Jerusalem and wrote Geliefde Vijand ("Beloved Enemy," 1964), a book about the Jew in postwar Dutch literature. Historian Jaap Meijer (1912–1993) published a study on poet Jacob Israël de Haan, De zoon van een Gazzan ("The Son of a Cantor," 1967). Meijer, the father of Ischa Meijer, also became known by his pen name Saul van Messel, a poet who distinguished himself from his peers in the literary world by writing in the Saxon dialect of Groningen province.

A few Jews have also written in Afrikaans, a dialect of Dutch containing other elements and spoken mainly by the South African Afrikaners; see *South African Literature.


S.E. van Praag, De West-Joden en hun letterkunde sinds 1860 (1926); J. Meijer, Zij lieten hun sporen achter (1964); P. Kat, Bijbelsche uitdrukkingen en spreek wijzen in onze taal (1926); H. Beem, Jerôsche, Jiddische spreekwoorden en zegswijzen uit het Nederlandse taalgebied (1959); idem, Resten van een taal, woordenboek van het Nederlandse Jiddisch (1967); C.G.N. de Vooys and G. Stuiveling, Schets van de Nederlandse letterkunde (1966); J. Melkman, Geliefde Vijand (1964). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: S. Dresden, Vervolging, vernietiging, literatuur, (1991); J. Snapper, De wegen van Marga Minco (1997); D. Meijer, Levi in de Lage Landen (1999), J. Vos, Het geschrevene blijft te lezen (2004).

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.