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Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

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Dutch and Flemish Literature  
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Hans Warren

Reve's contemporary Hans Warren (b. 1921) started his literary career as an art critic and poet. Together with his friend and partner Mario Molegraaf, he translated the collected poems of C. P. Cavafy (1984).

Warren achieved national fame with the publication of his Geheime Dagboek (Secret Diary). In the twelve volumes so far published, he gives a frank account of his awakening as a homosexual in the countryside, his tempestuous relations with his mostly North African lovers and with his wife, who gave birth to several children. He also explains his divorce and the start of a new life, first living alone, later with his lover Mario.

Gerrit Komrij

Ranked alongside Reve and Warren as one of Holland's most renowned gay writers is Gerrit Komrij (b. 1944). He has published an impressive body of work, including poetry, novels, plays, literary reviews, columns, translations, and essays. Komrij is both admired and feared because of his sardonic humor and biting pen.

In Verwoest Arcadië (Destroyed Arcadia [1980]), he gives an autobiographical "reconstruction of a life amidst boys and books." His most recent publication is the libretto for Peter Schat's opera Symposion (1994), which dramatizes the last days in the life of Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky.

Eric de Kuyper and Tom Lanoye

Two Flemish writers, Eric de Kuyper (b. 1942) and Tom Lanoye (b. 1958), add new voices to Dutch gay writing, which in the 1960s and 1970s was dominated by authors born and raised in the Netherlands. Like Komrij, Kuyper would protest against being labeled a "gay writer." But both see homosexuality as a force that enables an artist to consider social phenomena from a different perspective.

In his series of autobiographical novels, Kuyper investigates how fascination for arts and the male body come together in the fantasies and acts of his hero. In the matriarchal family, in which he is raised, he gets the opportunity to explore the world of ballet and film. Initially, he sees the male body only as an aesthetic object, but later, in his adolescent years, the discovery of body-builder magazines leads to new erotic, and therefore sinful and secret, meanings.

The iconography of the male body is also an area for special attention in Kuyper's movies, like Naughty Boys and Pink Ulysses, and in his essays about film and film theory.

In Kartonnen dozen (Cardboard Boxes [1991]), Tom Lanoye gives an often hilarious account of "a trivial love and its consuming power." In the autobiographical story of a boy's friendship that was not allowed to become a love affair, Lanoye makes clear that a gay consciousness is determined by memories, images, dreams, fantasies, and ineffable feelings.

Willem Bijsterbosch

The same elements are used in the short novels of Willem Bijsterbosch. Comradeship is perhaps the keyword to characterize the relations between his protagonists, not only those between two boys or two elderly, eccentric women, but also between the younger and older generations. Bijsterbosch's heroes are mates or pals, who try to lead independent and spontaneous lives. Bijsterbosch creates an inviting fictional world by mixing elements of the picaresque and gothic novel with modern gay culture and romantic friendship.

Modern Dutch Lesbian Literature

The diversity of modern Dutch lesbian literature seems even greater than that of gay male literature, because it also includes black literature, lesbian romantic novels (by the "Writer's Squad" Dorcas), lesbian-feminist literature, and comic stories from the lesbian subculture (Sjuul Deckwitz).

In novels like Nergens, ergens (Nowhere, Somewhere [1983]), Astrid Roemer (b. 1947), who was born in the former Dutch colony Surinam, tries to break through oppositions between black and white, lesbian and straight. Recently, Surinam-Dutch lesbian writing was augmented by Vriendinnenvrouwen (Sisterwomen [1994]), a novel by Joanna Werners, which gives a fragmented analysis of the discrimination against (lesbian) black women.

Elly de Waard

The poet Elly de Waard is "the uncrowned queen of the Dutch lesbians," and the leader of a group of young female poets called "The New Savages." The character of her poetry has developed from sober and reticent to ecstatic and explicitly lesbian. Her most recent collections of poems, Eenzang and Eenzang: twee (1991 and 1992), include works that give expression to the full range of lesbian love and sexuality.

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