De Achttiende Eeuw 26 (1994) nr.1
Suzan van Dijk, The difficult beginnings of female journalism (a question of power)
In France and Holland during the eighteenth century the number of female journalists seems to have been very small. In part this impression would seem to be false: there are still many gaps to be filled in the historiography of the Dutch press. This article however does not intend to fill them up, but concerns the extent to which the assertion can be said to be true. Clearly, women have been excluded from journalism. The hostile attitude of male journalists as shown towards possible, or even fictional, female rivals can be seen as one of the main causes of the exclusion of women from this field. One of the consequences was the decision taken by some women, who had been hindered in their journalistic aims, to express themselves through the medium of the novel.
David Fausett, Smeeks and the Nijptangh Journal: a reappraisal
Krinke Kesmes (1708) by Hendrik Smeeks is an obscure novel about a voyage to Australia (or ‘New Holland’) and the utopian society encountered there. It has interested literary historians mainly as a precursor to Robinson Crusoe, as it contains a digression in which a youth is marooned; a highly realistic one, which has aroused speculation about a possible real source for it. The article reviews this problem and makes a detailed comparison of Smeek’s text with a journal from Willem de Vlamingh’s expedition to Australia in 1696-1697. It concludes that this was the main source used – not on its own, but as part of a composite edition which included literary works. The total effect of that edition was to inspire a poetics of marooning, later carried forward by Defoe.
Jan Oosterholt, Passion and workmanship art. Dutch conceptions of lyrics (1780-1790)
Before the eighteenth century lyric poetry gets little attention in poetics. In 1746 Charles Batteux states that the lyric poem is an imitation de la belle nature like any other kind of poetry. In response to this a concept of lyrics develops in Germany in which the notion of an imitation is rejected but the expression of sentiments is still subject to rules. This normative concept of lyrics has a great influence on several Dutch authors at the end of the eighteenth century. In his well known polemics with W.E. de Perponcher, H. van Alphen refuses to see an ode and an elegy as imitations of nature. He stresses the importance of authentic sentiments, whereas Perponcher gives more attention to the cultivation of these sentiments. In his treatise on the lyric poem (1786) Brender à Brandis too subscribes to the normative concept of lyrics of the German Popularaesthetici.
Dorothée Sturkenboom, Thermometers for masculinity and femininity. The meaning of sexual difference in eighteenth-century spectators.
This article presents a casestudy of the Dutch journal De Vrouwelyke Spectator published anonymously in 1760-1761. One of the essays contained in this volume, namely ‘The invention of the Female Thermometer’ is singled out for extensive analysis. The author argues that the notion of gender as a symbolic category that structures the representation of reality is necessary to understand the messages of this text and that of the spectatorial magazine genre in general.
In the ‘Female Thermometer’ femininity is closely related to the negative interpretation of passions and decadence. Masculinity on the other hand corresponds to the virtue of self-control. This is especially illustrated by the behaviour of ‘Monsieur Crux-Homo’, the character that symbolizes the effeminate man. The representation and function of effeminate men in this and other Dutch spectatorial weeklies demonstrate that gender plays a decisive role in the construction of a virtuous middle-class identity for the Dutch nation. In conclusion gender turns out to be a crucial element in the spectatorial classification system that all Dutch dix-huitémistes should take into account, not only those interested in ‘women’s topics’.
Stephan Klein en Joost Rosendaal, Democracy in context. New perspectives on the Leiden Draft (1785)
Dutch and foreign historians tend to view Dutch patriotism of the 1780s as a sign of either the beginning of modernity in politics or the final years of the old system. In order to uphold this interpretative scheme the Leiden Draft, taken for the most radical programme of the Dutch patriots, has been used as evidence of both ancien-regime politics and modern democratic radicalism. This tendency to deny the peculiar character of the 1780s has somewhat obscured the meaning of the Leiden Draft within its immediate context i.e. the province of Holland in 1785. The authors argue that the Leiden Draft was not the most radical product of patriot thought, nor meant as a blue-print of the ideal republic. The Leiden Draft, published by the Holland Association of Armed Citizen Societies, indeed marked only the beginning of a discussion that was never closed. At the same time it must be considered a last attempt at creating a broader consensus between regent and citizens without giving up the central demand of democratic reform in city-administrations. This idea of consensus is illustrated by a comparison between the Leiden Draft and an unknown earlier version that in some ways is more radical and explicit.
Wijnand Mijnhardt, Cultural societies and the Enlightenment: a reply
In a recent article of De Achttiende Eeuw [25 (1993) 3-23] Rienk Vermij has questioned the accuracy of two basic conclusions of my book on Dutch cultural societies in the eighteenth century. First of all he doubts the validity of the distinction between the sociability of scholars and that of the wider public since the Italian Renaissance. In Vermij’s view separate forms of sociability of scholars did not emerge until the advent of official state recognized academies since the middle of the 17th century. The reply argues that until the second half of the 19th century sociological distinction between scholars and not-scholars does not apply. It therefore makes much more sense to take goals and activities of societies as criteria for a categorization into learned societies and those intended for the general public. Even those official societies, which according to Vermij may be called scientific in their own right since the middle of the 17th century, more often than not included persons who did not pursue any scientific careers. In non-absolutist countries such as England and the Dutch Republic wealthy amateurs were welcome because they supplied the financial means by which these official societies could carry out their scientific programs. Official academies in countries such as France and to a lesser extent Germany , though well subsidized, often included a large portion of noble members who had been elected on non-scientific grounds.
According tot Vermij, the Enlightenment did not constitute a distinctive phase in the evolution of cultural societies. As a result Dutch sociability of the second half of the 18th century took shape according to models developed in the 17th century. In this case Vermij ignores the eighteenth-century discussion of Scottish origins on sociability and politeness that very deeply influenced the nature and development of societies and supplied it with its distinctive enlightened character. Moreover, by refusing to adopt a comparative perspective, Vermij fails to interpret the early emergence of non-corporative forms of sociability in the Dutch Republic in the 17th century. These early manifestations of modern forms of sociability may be explained by the extraordinary political and economic structure of the Dutch Republic. Nevertheless, it was only in the eighteenth century, when the Dutch began to adopt the principles of the new science of man, that enlightened forms of sociability came into being.
De Achttiende Eeuw 26 (1994) nr.2
Piet Buijnsters, The beneficial perspective on the Enlightenment. A reflection on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ‘Werkgroep 18e Eeuw’
The rapid development of all kinds of societies and journals in the field of eighteenth-century studies during the sixties was closely bound with a rehabilitation of some specific values of the Enlightenment, such as cosmopolitism and tolerance. The same applies just as well to the Dutch-Belgian ‘Werkgroep 18e Eeuw’. But now, 25 years later, it has to be conceded that the broad domain of eighteent-century studies has been identified to a high degree with the concept of Enlightenment. Therefore we argue in favour of a new rediscovery of the eighteenth century with more attention for some forgotten aspects as has been already indicated in Noonan’s Harvard-catalogue The dark side of the Enlightenment (1984).
Reginald De Schryver, The eighteenth century in the historiography of Belgium: boundaries and periodization
Until a number of sixteenth-century church historians used the ‘century’ as a distinctive label, historians did not regard a ‘century’ as a historical unit. It was in the late nineteenth century that German philosophers of history came to view the ‘century’ as essential to the deeper rhythm of history. Moreover, since Voltaire’s Siècle de Louis XIV it seemed possible to link periods of approximately one hundred years to great personalities or important phenomena. The eighteenth century was probably the first century to view itself self-consciously as the ‘Age of the Enlightenment’.
For the historiography of Belgium – the oldest histories of that country were published around 1800 – the ‘century’ in general and the eigtheenth century in particular do not seem to have been of much use. The nineteenth-century historians of Belgium do not single out an ‘eighteenth century’; to them this century was not more than a subdivision of the long ‘Austrian period’, which covered early modern times and three centuries of Habsburg rule. Nor does Henri Pirenne discuss the eighteenth century as a distinct period in his well-known Histoire de Belgique; instead he defines a period by political events, running from the Treaty of Westphalia to the annexation of Belgium by France in 1794. General histories of the Low Countries published over the past thirty five years never deal with the eighteenth century as a distinct period. In all of them the ‘Age of the Enlightenment’ is situated in the second half of the eighteenth century and thus the two halves of the century are separated. This division of the century in two is quite common in other fields of historiography too. It is also present in a very recent synthesis of the Belgian eighteenth century (see page 144), although the century is considered a unity when the rule of the Austrian dynasty is taken as the perspective: only the eighteenth century can be seen as a unified period, that is, as an ‘Austrian epoch’.
Eco Haitsma Mulier, The eigtheenth-century Netherlands: a period of rising historical consciousness
It is not easy to characterize the eigtheenth century in the Netherlands. Fifty years ago Johan Huizinga did not hesitate to point out a contradiction of the activity of the Golden Age of Holland with what he called the slumber of the country in the next century. Pieter Geyl in the fifties had a slightly more positive view of the situation in the eighteenth century in the Northern and Southern Netherlands. And the recent volume of essays on the Dutch Republic in that century shows the differences between their opinions and the present approach of the historical problems of that age. However, the most interesting observation to be made is about the changing function of history itself in the eighteenth century. As witnessed in statements by historians and other observers of the past historical consciousness gained force after 1750 in the Dutch Republic. This movement was accelerated by the profound impression the French Revolution made on the minds of its spectators in the North. Nevertheless, at the same time antiquity, reduced to the background by the Querelle, reappeared in some texts as an ahistorical paradigm for comprehension of the cataclysmic events.
Anton van de Sande, The eighteenth century in the eyes of the nineteenth century
During the nineteenth century Dutch historians heardly dealt with the eighteenth century. Their attention was drawn mainly to the ‘Golden Age’. The generation of historians working around 1800 did acknowledge that the revolutionary years had caused a breach with the past, but until the 1840’s they mostly emphasized the continuity between the eighteenth and nineteenth century. This emphasis on continuity was partly due to the great influence of societies such as Felix Meritis and the ‘Nut’. The philosophy of ‘decline and fall’was not a nineteenth-century invention. After 1840 most historians, including Fruin, did not publish about the eighteenth century due to a certain embarrassment. Men of letters and Potgieter in particular had to be the ones to broach the subject of the eighteenth century. It was in literary circles the term ‘pruikentijd’( ‘period of whigs’) was coined. This pejorative label is indicative of the way in which the Dutch in the second half of the nineteenth century viewed their eighteenth century. And the term ‘pruikentijd’ is still being used in our century.
Willem van den Berg, Eighteenth-century literature seen through nineteenth-century glasses
According to Van de Sande several phases may be distinguished in the creation of an image of the eighteenth century during the following century. Van de Sande spoke as a historian. With regard to the evaluation of the literature of that period one has to conclude that the rather permanent negative image was already formed at the turn of the century in Jeronimo de Vries’s proze-winning essay ‘Welken zyn de vorderingen, welke is de veragtering der nederduitsche dichtkunde gedurende de achttiende eeuw?’ After the golden age of the seventeenth century followed, by De Vries’s estimation, a period of decline of Dutch literature. His point of view was directive for critics as Potgieter and Busken Huet, who in search for a stimulating model for the mediocre literature of the nineteenth century preferred the golden age to the eighteenth century.
Joost Kloek, The eighteenth-century reading public
In this article the current idea of the eighteenth-century reading public is compared to the result of recent research in administrations of booksellers.
According to the common conception, the eighteenth-century reading public was expanding rapidly, especially in the middle class. The rise of genres like the novel, the bürgerliche Drama, history, and geography are said to reflect the moral code and thirst for knowledge of this emancipating group.
This process is often called the Leserevolution (revolution in reading), a term with a strong suggestion of rapid and radical change.
However, recent research in administrations of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century booksellers in the Netherlands, Germany, and Britain, does not confirm this view. The vast majority of clients do not buy or borrow the new genres; they prefer ‘functional’ books: books related to their profession or job, church books, school books, books with practical general information, and booklets on local events. The few purchasers of the alleged bourgeois genres nearly all belong to the the social or intellectual elite.
These results are incompatible with the idea of a Leserevolution; but they comply with the modern sociological insight that literary socialization of new groups of readers is a complex and long-term proces.
Albert Clement, Migration among musicians. An aspect of the musical life in the Northern Netherlands in the eighteenth century
The image of the musical life in the Northern Netherlands in the eighteenth century is largely defined by the enormous influx of foreign musicians. A cross-section of musicians whose place of origin lay outside of the Netherlands leads to the conclusion that a great number established themselves here permanently, while – beside France, Bohemia and Italy – Germany was the most important supplier of musicians. One of the most prolific eighteenth-century composers who worked in the Netherlands was Christian Ernst Graf, an immigrant from Germany.
The wealth of the Netherlands undoubtedly worked its powers of attraction on foreign musicians. Nevertheless, more – and more specific – reasons can be given for their arrival. In the first place the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 can be mentioned. The fact that Amsterdam developed into the most important European centre for music publishing in the first half of the eighteenth century was to a large part the consequence of this. The toleration towards Huguenots and other immigrants needs likewise to be stated. Moreover, various cities in particular seem to have had an attractive influence. For organists the beautiful organs in the Netherlands seem to have sometimes been the reason for migration. As well as personal contacts between musicians themselves, contacts between the courts of the stadtholders and foreign courts will have played a role, while some musicians possibly found a field of activity in the Netherlands thanks to masonic relations.
The musicians who migrated to the Northern Netherlands determined the musical life here to an important degree. Thanks to the culturally favourable climate they were able to establish themselves and to introduce foreign stilistic features into Dutch music. The cosmopolitan musical culture which characterized the Netherlands in the eighteenth century became propagated throughout the whole of Europe via the music publishing firms.
Wijnand Mijnhardt, Twenty five years Werkgroep Achttiende Eeuw
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