The Low Countries

Deze Engelstalige blog, gelinkt aan het jaarboek The Low Countries, brengt nieuws over taal, cultuur en maatschappij in de Lage Landen voor een breed buitenlands publiek.

  • 20 mei 2016

Software Discovers the True Writer of the Wilhelmus

Software Discovers the True Writer of the Wilhelmus

Who wrote the lyrics of the Wilhelmus, the oldest national anthem in the world, although it only became the official Dutch national anthem in 1932?

The Wilhelmus was written at the start of the Eighty Years’ War (ca. 1570) when the Low Countries rebelled against the repressive politics of the Spanish king. The text is traditionally ascribed to Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde, a nobleman from the south of the Netherlands and mayor of Antwerp, who acted as a sort of spin doctor for the House of Orange-Nassau from the 1570s. Academics, however, have always questioned the attribution.

Computer analysis has now presented a completely different candidate: Peter Datheen or Petrus Dathenus, a second-rate sixteenth-century poet from French Flanders (Cassel, 1531-1588). Datheen was an advisor to William of Orange on Church matters, but the Calvinist hardliner fell out with the advocate of Realpolitik.

  • 19 mei 2016

New Book: Discord and Consensus in the Low Countries

New Book: Discord and Consensus in the Low Countries

UCL Press recently announced the publication of Discord and Consensus in the Low Countries, 1700-2000, edited by Jane Fenoulhet, Gerdi Quist and Ulrich Tiedau.

Arranged in chronological order the contributions tackle premodern Dutch identity, eighteenth century literature, presentation of the period of union of the Low Countries in 1815-30, graphic novel adaptations of Hendrik Conscience’s Lion of Flanders, controversies in the Gazette van Detroit during the First World War, the Battle of Arnhem and subsequent reconstruction, the first and final novels of Hella S. Haasse, the film adaptation of Tessa de Loo’s De Tweeling (The Twins), regional development in the Dutch-German border area in the 1950s and 1960s, and EU language policy.

  • 17 mei 2016

Ivo Van Hove snares Jude Law for a Visconti stage adaptation

Ivo Van Hove snares Jude Law for a Visconti stage adaptation

Film star Jude Law regularly refuses big films for good stage roles. Ivo Van Hove, who has previously worked with David Bowie and who is better known these days for the prestigious American Tony Awards, has snared the British actor for his company Toneelgroep Amsterdam, to take on a leading role in Obsession.

Jude Law had seen A View from the Bridge (winner of a Tony Award) and Antigone, both directed by Van Hove, and the matter was soon settled over lunch with the director in Rome.

Dutch actors Halina Reijn and Gijs Scholten van Aschat will be on stage with Jude Law, acting in English, a new step in the international career of Toneelgroep Amsterdam, which is staging this production in collaboration with the Barbican theatre in London.

Obsession is one of three productions by Toneelgroep Amsterdam included in the Barbican’s 2017 programme, alongside Romeinse tragedies (The Roman Tragedies) and Na de repetitie (After the Rehearsal) / Persona.

The Low Countries Yearbook has published several articles on Ivo Van Hove. Read them in this blog post.

  • 13 mei 2016

Luc Tuymans in Antwerp and New York

Luc Tuymans in Antwerp and New York

Opening today, Museum aan de Stroom (MAS) in Antwerp will host Glasses, a solo museum exhibition featuring a selection of portraits by Tuymans. A portion of the presentation will travel to the National Portrait Gallery in London. In the fall of this year, the artist’s work will be presented in a solo exhibition at Lille Métropole, musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut in Villeneuve d’Ascq, France, as well as the 9th Biennale de Montréal.

In New York, meanwhile, the painter presents something of his introverted side. The title of his new exhibition comes from Jean-Luc Godard’s film Le Mépris (Contempt). ‘That is how I often feel these days,’ says the painter.

  • 29 april 2016

A New Portrait of Spinoza?

A New Portrait of Spinoza?

In 2013 an Amsterdam art dealer found a description of a certain Portrait d’homme devant une sculpture by Barend Graat (1628-1709), a mediocre Amsterdam painter, in a Parisian auction catalogue. Constant Vecht recognised the man as a young Spinoza and was certain he had found the portrait people had been searching for for centuries. The dealer managed to buy the portrait in Paris for 3000 euros plus 750 euros in auction fees, and took a train from Gare du Nord to Amsterdam with the canvas under his arm.

If it depicts Spinoza in his thirties, then we finally have the one portrait of the great philosopher painted during his lifetime. This canvas is therefore the forerunner to the famous portrait by an unknown painter, thought to date back to 1680-1700, which hangs in the collection of the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel and the engraving from c. 1680 by an unknown engraver which has been preserved at the Rijksmuseum.

  • 8 april 2016

The Call of the Rockies: Pieter Jan De Smet and the Indian tragedy

The Call of the Rockies: Pieter Jan De Smet and the Indian tragedy

As a missionary working among the Indians of the Columbia Plateau and the Plains, Flemish Jesuit Pieter Jan De Smet (Dendermonde 1801-Saint Louis 1873) was a privileged witness to an important phase in the history of the development of the United States of America. 

The exhibition The Call of the Rockies - Pieter Jan De Smet and the Indian tragedy (until May 1st) in the Caermersklooster in Ghent, Flanders, focuses on the role of De Smet, not only as a missionary, but also as defender of the Indians themselves, an advocate for peace and a mediator with the American government. 

  • 6 april 2016

The Low Countries 24: ‘Read it: it doesn’t say what it says’

The Low Countries 24: ‘Read it: it doesn’t say what it says’

The 24th volume of The Low Countries yearbook is out now. The theme of this volume is literature, as Flanders and the Netherlands are the guest of honour at this year's Frankfurter Buchmesse, the biggest book fair in the world. 

You can order the yearbook on this page, where you can also view the table of contents

In this blog post, you can read chief editor Luc Devoldere's backcover introduction of our latest treasure trove.

  • 6 april 2016

Dutch Studies Program at Berkeley Turns 50 and Looks for Philantropists

Dutch Studies Program at Berkeley Turns 50 and Looks for Philantropists

In 2016, the Dutch Studies Program at the University of California in Berkeley is celebrating its 50th anniversary. This calls for a party, one would think, but this unique program faces problems.

What is the matter? Over the years, the Dutch Language Union (Nederlandse Taalunie) generously funded the Dutch Studies Program, yet due to recent budget cuts this funding will be discontinued. This puts in jeopardy a long tradition of bringing Dutch authors, artists, and visiting professors to the Berkeley campus and supporting student research projects and study abroad opportunities.

The Program’s funding now largely depends on private philanthropy, and there are various ways to get involved as a donor in this important program. You can read about them in this blog post.

  • 25 maart 2016

Johan Cruyff (1947-2016)

Johan Cruyff (1947-2016)

Holland's Glory in football boots is no more. Johan Cruyff, the undisputed number 1 (in shirt number 14), has passed away.

Let us remember this football player without parallel, unsurpassed in all his feats on the football fields of the Netherlands and far beyond, using the words that appeared in the 11th edition of The Low Countries yearbook (2003). They were written by the legendary Flemish sports journalist Jan Wauters (1939-2010).

Read how Wauters described Cruyff in this blog post.