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Book launch: Literary history of the Low Countries, and celebration of 90 years of Dutch at UCL

11 December 2009

On 11 December 2009, the first English language history of the literature of the Netherlands and Flanders since the 1970s and the most substantial ever published was launched in the National Gallery, London. Written by a team of Dutch and Flemish scholars, it offers a comprehensive and authoritative account of the literature of the Dutch-speaking area from the medieval period up to the present day.

A Literary History of the Low Countries (Theo Hermans ed.)

In the presence of most of the contributors to the volume, Betsy Wieseman,  curator of Dutch Paintings at the National Gallery, gave a talk on ‘Dutch Golden Age art and literature’ and the novelist and critic Paul Binding spoke about authors of the last century, from Louis Couperus to Cees Nooteboom and Paul Verhaeghen. The event also celebrated 90 years of Dutch Studies at University College London (UCL), which houses the largest centre for Dutch Studies in the English-speaking world. A chair in Dutch has been occupied almost continuously since 1919.

To celebrate this occasion, Theo Hermans, Head of the UCL Department of Dutch and editor of the Literary History of the Low Countries, was presented with a £2500 cheque by the Royal Netherlands Embassy, to strengthen Dutch Studies in London.

PRESS RELEASE – At last a comprehensive, up-to-date history of Dutch-language literature is available in English once more. For years, specialists all over the world and foreign readers interested in Dutch and Flemish literary culture have had to make do with the 1971 account by Reinder Meijer. The new book, reflecting contemporary scholarship and twice the size of its predecessor, is A Literary History of the Low Countries, edited by Theo Hermans, Professor of Dutch and Comparative Literature at University College London (UCL), with contributions by some of the most eminent historians of Dutch-language literature: Frits van Oostrom, Herman Pleij, Eddy Grootes, Riet Schenkeveld, Marleen de Vries, Willem van den Berg, Ton Anbeek, Jaap Goedegebuure and Anne Marie Musschoot. A Literary History of the Low Countries is based on a manuscript originally written in Dutch, which also served as a basis for the French Histoire de la littérature néerlandaise. For the English-language History the text has been thoroughly reworked, updated, and enriched by the addition of illustrations, maps and bibliographies. With a list of all book-length English translations of Dutch literature covering all periods, and an extensive index, this History is the standard work for the coming decades. The new literary history has been long awaited, and not only by those working in the field of Dutch studies. Numerous Dutch authors have sold successfully in translation from Turkey to China and the Arab world in recent years, and interest in the literary tradition that produced these writers has increased markedly. Many outside the Netherlands and Flanders will marvel at the sheer wealth of the literary culture in the lands of Rembrandt, Rubens and Van Gogh.

The publication of A Literary History of the Low Countries has been made possible by financial support from the Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature, the Dutch Language Union, the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the Flemish Literature Fund. A Literary History of the Low Countries is published by Camden House.

Contributors: Ton Anbeek, Willem van den Berg, Jaap Goedegebuure, E. K. Grootes, Anne Marie Musschoot, Frits van Oostrom, Herman Pleij, M. A. Schenkeveld van der Dussen, Marleen de Vries.

The editor Theo Hermans is Professor of Dutch and Comparative Literature at University College London (UCL).

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Page last modified on 09 jun 10 12:34 by Ulrich Tiedau