Herman Heijermans Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Herman Heijermans began his literary career by writing prose sketches under a variety of pseudonyms and became a journalist by writing theater criticism for De telegraaf, a newspaper that had been founded in Amsterdam. He won his first literary success with ’n Jodenstreek? (a Jew’s trick?), a novella about intermarriage, which appeared in 1892 in De gids (the guide), one of the most respected periodicals in the Netherlands.

During his literary career, Heijermans employed several pen names, the most famous of which was Samuel Falkland, which had originally belonged to his father. He affixed “Jr.” to it and made it his own. With this pseudonym, he signed a series of vignettes and sketches of Amsterdam life that appeared weekly for twenty-one years, first in De telegraaf and later in Algemeen handelsblad (general journal of commerce). His “Falklandjes,” as they came to be called, attracted a large audience that looked forward to each new sketch and, sometimes, a one-act play. When they were later published in book form, they filled eighteen volumes. As a writer of Dutch prose, Heijermans is also known for his autobiographical novel Kamertjeszonde (1898; sin in a furnished room); Droomkoninkje (1924; the little dream king), a novel filled with the dreams and fantasies of childhood; and other sketches, novellas, and novels.

Herman Heijermans Achievements

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, the Dutch drama emerged from the literary revolution known as de Beweging van Tachtig (the movement of the eighties) unchanged. The man who was to revive the Dutch drama and to become the greatest playwright of modern Holland was Herman Heijermans. He was aware not only of the vitalizing effect of the new literary movement in the Netherlands but also of the influence of such new dramatists as Henrik Ibsen, Leo Tolstoy, Gerhart Hauptmann, and Maurice Maeterlinck. Ibsen’s Samfundets støtter (pr., pb. 1877; The Pillars of Society, 1880), Et dukkehjem (pr., pb. 1879; A Doll’s House, 1880; also known as A Doll House), and Vildanden (pb. 1884; The Wild Duck, 1891) had already appeared on the Dutch stage when, in 1892, André Antoine toured the country with his Théâtre Libre and returned again in 1893 and 1894 with such plays as Ibsen’s Gengangere (pb. 1881; Ghosts, 1885), Tolstoy’s Vlast tmy (pb. 1887; The Power of Darkness, 1888), and Hauptmann’s Die Weber (pb. 1892; The Weavers, 1899). In September, 1894, Lugné-Poë brought his company, L’uvre, to Amsterdam, with performances of Maeterlinck’s Pelléas et Mélisande (1892; English translation, 1894) and Ibsen’s Rosmersholm (pb. 1886; English translation, 1889) and En folkefiende (pb. 1882; An Enemy of the People, 1890). Heijermans was sensitive to the new ideas and points of view in the modern European theater, and he soon began to put them on the stage in his own country. Like many great dramatists, however, he does not fit neatly...

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Herman Heijermans Bibliography

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Flaxman, Seymour Lawrence. Herman Heijermans and His Dramas. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1954. The classic biography of Heijermans in English. Focuses on his dramatic works. Bibliography.

Yoder, Hilda van Neck. Dramatizations of Social Change: Herman Heijermans’s Plays as Compared with Selected Dramas by Ibsen, Hauptmann, and Chekhov. The Hague: Nijhoff, 1978. A comparison of Heijermans’s dramas with those of Henrik Ibsen, Gerhart Hauptmann, and Anton Chekhov, with emphasis on presentation of social problems. Bibliography.

Young, Toby. “Gritty but Grotty.” Review of The Good Hope by Herman Heijermans. The Spectator, November 17, 2001, p. 64. This review examines a revival of the political play The Good Hope, revised by Lee Hall and performed at the Cottesloe Theatre in London, finding it heavy on the political statement and light on dramatic development. The reviewer notes, however, that many in the audience enjoyed the play.