Gorter, Herman 1864–1927

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Gorter, Herman 1864–1927

PERSONAL: Born November 26, 1864, in Wormeveer, Netherlands; died September 15, 1927, in Brussels, Belgium; son of Simon (a clergyman) and Johanna (Lugt) Gorter; married Wies Cnoop Koopmans, 1890. Education: Attended University of Amsterdam.

CAREER: Poet and writer. Former high-school teacher in Amersfoort, Netherlands.


De interpretatione Aeschylimetaphorarum, Lugduni-Batavorum, 1889.

Verzen, W. Versluys (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1890, published as Verzen: de editie van 1890, edited by Enno Endt, Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennep (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1987.

Sociaal-demokratie en anarchisme, Brochurenhandel der S.D.A.P. (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1897.

De school der poëzie, W. Versluys (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1897, published as De school der poëzie: verzen, Van Dishoeck (Bussum, Netherlands), 1925.

Die Klassenkakmpf-Organisation des Proletariats (pamphlets), Kommissions-druckerei der K.A.P.D. (Berlin, Germany), c. 1900, reprinted, 1988.

De grondslagen der Sociaaldemokratie, Brochurenhandel der S.D.A.P. (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1902.

Mei (poetry; title means "May"), W. Versluys (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1900, published as Mei: een gedicht, introduction by Willem Wilmink, B. Bakker (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1989.

(With Anton Pannekoek) Marxisme en revisionise, J.A. Fortuyn (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1906.

Een klein heldendicht, W. Versluys (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1906, reprinted, Pegasus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1977.

(With Karl Kautsky) Ethiek en materialistische geschiedenisbeschouwing, H.A. Wakker (Rotterdam, Netherlands), 1907.

(With Karl Kautsky) De we naar de macht (social history), H.A. Wakker (Rotterdam, Netherlands), 1909.

(Translator) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, Het communistich manifest, Brochurenhandel der S.D.A.P. (Amsterdam, Netherlands), c. 1910.

Het historisch materialisme: voor arbeiders verklaard, Uitgave der Sociaal-Demokratische Partij (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1910, published as Het historisch materialisme: voor arbeiders verklaard: utg.: de tribune: heruitg, Proletarisch Links (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1972.

Pan: een gedichte, Pegasus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1912.

Het imperialisme de wereldoorlog en de sociaal-democratie, Brochurehandel der S.D.A.P. (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1914.

De wereldrevolutie (social history), J.J. Bos (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1919.

De grondslagen v an het communisme, J.J. Bos (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1920.

Klassenmoraal: een antwoord aan Jhr. de Savornin Lohman en Mr. P.J. Troelstra, J.J. Bos (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1920.

(Translator) Vladimir Il'ich Lenin, Staat en revolutie: de leer van het marxisme over den staat en over de taak van het proletariaat in de revolutie, J.J. Bos (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1920.

Het opportunisme in de Nederlandsche Communistische Partij, J.J. Bos (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1921, translated as.

De Algemeene Arbeiders-Bond: revolutionaire bedrijf-sorganisaties, Kommunistiche Arbeiders-Partij (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1921.

Open brief aan partigenoot Lenin, J.J. Bos (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1921, translated as The Question of the Unions: A Reply to Lenin, Oppositionist (London, England), 1973.

De organisaitie voor den klassentstrrijd van het proletariaat, Kommunistische Arbeiders-Partij (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1922.

Een klein heidendicht, Pegasus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1925.

In memoriam, Van Dishoeck (Bussum, Netherlands), 1928.

Liedjes aan de geest der muziek der nieuwe menschheid (poetry), Van Dishoeck (Bussum, Netherlands), 1930.

De arbeidersraad, van Dishoeck (Bussum, Netherlands), 1931.

Sonnetten, van Dishoeck (Bussum, Netherlands), 1934.

De groote dichters: nagelaten studiën over de wereld-litteratuur en haar maatschappilijke grondslagen (poetry history and criticism), Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1935.

Kenteringssonnetten, Bezige Bij (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1945, reprinted, Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1979.

Gedicten; gekozen en ingeleid door J.C. Brandt Corstius, C.A.J. van Dishoeck (Bussum, Netherlands), 1946.

Verzamelde werken, Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1948.

(With Germt Stuivelling) De dag gaat open als een gouden roos: een bloemlezing uit zijn poëzie, gekozen en ingeleid, B. Bakker, 1956.

Twintig gedichten in handschrift, Meulenhoff (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1964.

Documentatie over de jaren 1866 tot en met 1897, edited by Enno Endt, Polak & van Gennep (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1964.

Herman Gorter, De Bezige Bij (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1966.

Verzamelde lyriek tot 1905, Polak & van Gennep (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1966.

Zie je ik hou van je: romantische dichters over de liefde (poetry), Ominboek (The Hague, Netherlands), 1985.

(With Willem Pijper) Tweeluik: voor mezzosopraan en altfluit: 1999 (musical score and lyrics based on letter from author), music by Jacques Bank, Donemus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2000.

Contributor to journals De Jonge Gids and De Nieuwe Tijd.

Works translated into several languages, including German, Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Yiddish, and Greek.

ADAPTATIONS: Gorter's poetry was adapted for music by Huub Kerstens as De stille weg: voor mezzosopraan, bas, viool en piano, Donemus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1985.

SIDELIGHTS: Dutch writer Herman Gorter was a leading figure in the Netherlands' 1880 literary revival. Gorter's poetry, particularly during his earlier years, embodied the aesthetic ideals of the era. As a poet, Gorter is best remembered for Mei, an epiclength work that celebrates the Dutch natural landscape through the character of a child, whose name translates to "May." Like the springtime she represents, Mei personifies youth and beauty. Her unrequited love for the blind Balder, "a seeming conflation of the Germanic god and Apollo," according to Dutch Crossing contributor J. Timothy Stevens, "represents the absolute self-absorption of the artist."

Authors are often compared to other authors, but in an article for Dutch Crossing Judit Gera drew parallels between Gorter's poem "Ik ben alleen in het lemplicht" and Vincent van Gogh's painting "Gaugins stoel." Gera pointed first to the similarities in upbringing between poet and painter: "The fathers of both artists were pastors, although it may be too simplistic to draw the conclusion that their social consciousnesses were due entirely to the role that religion and spirituality played in their families." Both men set their sights early on a theological career, and van Gogh actually became a vicar. Gorter, though he eventually embraced atheism, "continued the literary activities of his father," who wrote for Amsterdam's daily newspaper.

Both Gorter and van Gogh forged strong attachments to the working class. Gorter, notably, joined the Communist party and espoused Marxist ideals, a theme that would emerge many times in his writings. In 1912 he produced the poetry collection Pan: een gedichte, which presents a Utopian vision, though such political writings tended to be more openly didactic. Gera declared that both artists, each in his own way, "wanted to achieve something more than their Impressionist contemporaries, who were living under the spell of beauty. They wanted more than … [art for art's sake]. Their works are permeated by an inner tension that reveals the broken harmony between the outside world and the interior world of man."



Bock, Hans Manfred, Organisation un Taktik der proletarischen Revolution (bibliography of the author's political writings), Verl. Neue Kritik (Frankfurt, Germany), 1969.


Dutch Crossing, number 22, 1988, Judit Gera, "Artistic Parallels," pp. 127-138; August, 1989, J. Timothy Stevens, "Ganymede, Persephone, and Mei: The Child as Object of Desire," pp. 96-109.