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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft (1581–1647)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
PIETER CORNELISZOON HOOFT, who has been called “the father of Dutch poetry,” was born March 16th, 1581, at Amsterdam, Holland, where his father was burgomaster. He received a liberal education at home, and traveled extensively in France, Italy, and Germany. Subsequently he studied literature and law at the University of Leyden. In 1609 he was appointed to the influential position of bailiff of Muiden, and from this time on for many years he spent the summer months at the castle of Muiden, a short distance from Amsterdam.  1
  Hooft’s position in the literary history of Holland is due not only to his own writings, but also to the unmistakable influence that he exerted upon the whole literary development of the time. As bailiff at Muiden, whither he brought his young wife the year after his appointment, he kept open house, and gathered about him the flower of Holland in politics, in art, literature, and learning, known since in Dutch history as the “Muiden circle,” who were held together by Hooft’s own attractive personality and social position as well as by his literary talents. Some of the most notable names of Holland are connected with Hooft at Muiden. Vondel and Coster were there together, and in the long list of other names are to be found Grotius, Brederoo, Vos, and Ansloo, Constantin Huygens, and before all, Anna and Maria Tesselschade, the daughters of Roemer Visscher. Hooft was twice married. For his life of Henry IV. of France, written in 1626, he was ennobled by the French king. He died on the 25th of May, 1647, at The Hague, whither he had gone to attend a royal funeral.  2
  Hooft’s literary career began early. In his sixteenth year he had joined, according to the custom of the day, one of the rhetorical “chambers,” and wrote at this time several minor poems and the tragedy ‘Achilles and Polyxena,’ his first important literary work. His numerous lyrics, a series of dramas, and his historical works show that his official duties did not seriously interfere with his literary pursuits. His plays, besides the one already noticed, are the tragedies ‘Geraardt van Velzen,’ ‘Theseus and Ariadne,’ and ‘Baeto’; the pastoral ‘Granida’; and the comedy ‘Warenaer,’ after the ‘Aulularia’ of Plautus.  3
  Hooft’s first historical work was the life of Henry IV., already mentioned. This and a translation of Tacitus consciously served, however, but as a preparation for his greatest work, the ‘History of the Netherlands’ (Nederlandsche Historien), which was written during the years 1628–38, and finally published in 1642. He expended on this work his very best powers. A vast deal of time was spent upon the careful collection and study of sources, and upon the purity of the vocabulary and the literary form, which received extraordinary praise from his contemporaries, and have made this work a classic in the literature of Holland. He had planned a continuation of the history, but died before it was completed.  4
  Hooft’s best poetical work was lyrical. His dramas are altogether lacking in originality, and not one of them has kept the stage. It is as a historian that his fame is most firmly founded.  5
 
 
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