Greshoff, Jan 1888–1971

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Greshoff, Jan 1888–1971

(Dirk Bouts, Joh. G. Brands, Paul Buys, A. van Doorn, J. Janszen, Jr., Kees Konyn, A.L. van Kuyck, Ludovicus van Marmerrode, Prikkebeen, Otto P. Reys, Sagetarius en Joost Tak, H.L. Voet, J.J. van Voorne, J. van Zomeren Badius)

PERSONAL: Born December 15, 1888, in Nieuw-Helvoet, Netherlands; died March 19, 1971, in Cape Town, South Africa; married Agatha Christina, 1917.

CAREER: Worked as a journalist. De witte mier, founder; editor of Dutch newspapers and literary magazines, including Forum, Groot Nederland, Nieuwe Arnhemsche Courant, and Hollandsch Weekblad; Standpunteand Het Vaderland, South Africa, editor and literary columnist.

AWARDS, HONORS: Prijs van Amsterdam, 1927; Constantijn Huygensprijs, 1967; since 1978, the Jan Campert Foundation has awarded a biannual literary prize named in Greshoff's honor.



Aan den verlaten vijver, 1909.

Door mijn open venster, 1910.

(Editor) Het jaar der dichters: Muzenalmanak voor 1911, Luctor Emergo (The Hague, Netherlands), 1910.

De ceder (title means "The Cedar"), Hijman, Stenfert Kroese & van der Zande (Arnhem, Netherlands), 1924.

Schaduw, 1924.

Sparsa, 1925.

Vonken van het Vuur, 1925.

Keurdicht, bloemlezing, Boosten & Stols (Maastricht, Netherlands), 1926.

Oud zeer, 1926.

Zeven gedichten, 1926.

Aardsch en Hemelsch, 1926.

Anch'io, 1926.

Lyriek verzameld, Tjeenk Willink (Zwolle, Netherlands), 1928.

Bij feestelijke gelegenheden, 1928.

Confetti, 1928.

Ketelmuziek: Bloemlezing uit Greshoffs poëzie van 1908–1928 (title means "Kettle Music"), edited by E. du Perron, privately published, 1929.

Gedichten, A.A.M. Stols (Maastricht, Netherlands), 1930.

Mirliton, J. Enschedé (Haarlem, Netherlands), 1932.

Janus Bifrons, 1932.

Pro domo, 1933.

Gedichten, 1907–1934, Folemprise (The Hague, Netherlands), 1934.

Ikaros bekeerd (title means "Icarus Converted"), A.A.M. Stols (The Hague, Netherlands), 1938.

Dichters van dezen tijd, P.N. van Kampen (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1939.

(Editor) Nieuwe Nederlandse dichtkunst, J.L. van Schaik (Pretoria, South Africa), 1942.

In de verstrooiing: een verzameling letterkundige bijdragen van schrijvers buiten Nederland, 1940–10 mei 1945, Querido (New York, NY), 1945, translation published as Harvest of the Lowlands: An Anthology in English Translation of Creative Writing in the Dutch Language, with a Historical Survey of the Literary Development, Querido (New York, NY), 1945.

Verzameld Werk, P.N. van Kampen (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1948.

Uitnodiging tot ergernis, bloemlezing, poëzie en proza (title means "Invitation to Irritation"), B. Bakker/Daamen (The Hague, Netherlands), 1957.

De laatste dingen (title means "The Last Things"), A.A.M. Stols (The Hague, Netherlands), 1958.

Wachten op Charon (title means "Waiting for Charon"), Nijgh & van Ditmar (Rotterdam, Netherlands), 1964.

Bloemlezing uit zijn gedichten, compiled by Pierre H. Dubois, Nijgh & van Ditmar (Rotterdam, Netherlands), 1966.

Verzamelde gedichten 1907–1967, Nijgh & van Ditmar (Rotterdam, Netherlands), 1967.

Een eerlijk man heeft niets aan zijn gelaat (title means "An Honest Man's Face Does Him No Good"), compiled by M. Fonse, 1981.


Latijnsche lente (title means "Latin Spring"), A.W. Sijthoff (Leiden, Netherlands), 1918.

Mengelstoffen op het gebied der Fransche letterkunde (title means "Mixing Substances in the Area of French Literature"), Boosten & Stols, 1924.

Dichters in het koffyhuis, 1924.

(with J. de Vries) Geschiedenis der Nederlandsche letterkunde (title means "History of Dutch Literature"), Hijman, Stenfert Kroese & van der Zande, 1925.

Uren (title means "Hours"), Boosten & Stols, 1926.

De wieken van de molen (title means "The Wings of the Windmill"), A.A.M. Stols (Maastricht, Netherlands), 1927.

Currento calamo, 1930.

Spijkers met koppen (title means "Nails with Heads"), A.A.M. Stols (Brussels, Belgium), 1931.

Voetzoekers (title means "Jumping Jacks"), A.A.M. Stols (Brussels, Belgium), 1932.

Arthur van Schendel, J.M. Meulenhoff (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1934.

Critische vlugschriften (title means "Critical Pamphlets"), 1935.

Rebuten (title means "Rejects"), Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1936.

In alle ernst (title means "In All Seriousness"), Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1938.

Steenen voor brood, 1939.

Catrijntje Afrika, H. van Krimpen (The Hague, Netherlands), 1940.

Fabrieksgeheimen (title means "Factory Secrets"), J.L. van Schaik (Pretoria, South Africa), 1941.

Rariteiten, Fakkel-Reeks (Batavia, Indonesia), 1941.

Muze, mijn vriendin (title means "Muse, My Friend"), J.L. van Schaik (Pretoria, South Africa), 1943.

Het spel der spelen (title means "The Game of Games"), Querido (New York, NY), 1944.

Mijn vriend Coster: ter gelegenheid van de zestigste verjaardag van de schrijver (title means "My Friend Coster: On the Occasion of the Writer's Sixtieth Birthday"), Nederlandse Vereeniging voor Druk-en Boekkunst (Haarlem, Netherlands), 1948.

Het boek der vriendschap, memoires, 1950.

(With R. Goris) Marnix Gijsen, A.A.M. Stols (The Hague, Netherlands), 1955.

Volière, memoires, A.A.M. Stols (The Hague, Netherlands), 1956.

Bric à brac, 1957.

Menagerie, memoires, A.A.M. Stols (The Hague, Netherlands), 1958.

Pluis en niet pluis, de zes en zeven kruisjes (title means "Something Fishy and Not Fishy, the Six and Seven Crosses"), Heijinis (Zaandijk, Netherlands, 1958.

Afscheid van Europa (title means "Farewell to Europe"), Nijgh & van Ditmar (Rotterdam, Netherlands), 1970.

Also author of other essay collections, including Het Gefoelied Glas, Lionel des Rieux, and Une saison en Enfer.


Op de valreep (title means "At the Last Minute"), P.N. van Kampen (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1939.

Mimosa pudica, 1940.

Kalender zonder dagen (title means "Calendar without Days"), Koninklijke drukkerij de Unie (Batavia, Indonesia), 1941.

Bitterzoet, 1943.

Voor volwassenen (title means "For Adults"), A. Manteau (Brussels, Belgium), 1945.

Als droog zand, 1957.

Janee, De Beuk (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1958.

Nachtschade, keur uit de aforismen (title means "Nightshade, Pick from the Aphorisms"), A.A.M. Stols (The Hague, Netherlands), 1958.

444 aforismen, keuze uit de aforismen, Nijgh & van Ditmar (Rotterdam, Netherlands), 1969.

265 redenen tot ruzie, keuze uit de aforismen (title means "265 Reasons to Fight, Selections from the Aphorisms"), edited by G. de Ley, 1980.


Sans famille. Die brieven over een hedendaagsch vraagstuk, De Bezige Bij (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1947.

Leo Vroman, brieven over en weer, briefwisseling met J. Greshoff (title means "Leo Vroman, Letters Back and Forth"), Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1977.

Beste Sander, Do It Now!: Briefwisseling J. Greshoff/A.A.M. Stols, (correspondence), three volumes, edited by Salma Chen and S.A.J. van Faassen, Nederlands Letterkundig Museum en Documentatiecentrum (The Hague, Netherlands), 1990–92.


Also author of books under pseudonyms Dirk Bouts, Joh. G. Brands, Paul Buys, A. van Doorn, J. Janszen, Jr., Kees Konyn, A.L. van Kuyck, Ludovicus van Marmerrode, Prikkebeen, Otto P. Reys, Sagetarius en Joost Tak, H.L. Voet, J.J. van Voorne, and J. van Zomeren Badius. Editor of Bram van Velde, 1895–1981, SDU (The Hague, Netherlands); author of Zwanen pesten (title means "Teasing the Swans"), Nijgh & van Ditmar (The Hague, Netherlands); Cum grano salis, L. J.C. Boucher (The Hague, Netherlands); Lyriek, 3; and Lyriek, 4. Coeditor, "Nederlandse Boekerij" series.

SIDELIGHTS: Dutch poet, essayist, and critic Jan Greshoff was a nonconformist thinker. At an early age he began to feel like an outsider because of his yearning for individualism and beauty. Though highly intelligent, Greshoff dropped out of secondary school and went to work as an apprentice journalist. His debut as a poet, Aan de verlaten vijver, was published when he was twenty-one. He eventually lived in various countries, including Indonesia, the United States, and South Africa. He discovered and promoted many young writers and brought attention to forgotten ones by publishing their work.

In his first two collections, Greshoff was representative of the "generation of 1910," and wrote romantic, melancholy poems. Between 1910 and 1924 he published no poetry, but his comeback was almost a second debut, because instead of lamenting the baseness of society, he had learned to confront it. He used much simpler, everyday language, and this "poésie parlante" became the genre published in the magazine Forum, which he founded. Although he was against engaged literature in principle, much of his work before World War II is obviously influenced by his protest against increasing collectivism. Just before World War II, Greshoff moved his family to South Africa to escape the threat of fascism he saw growing around him. This decision may well have saved his life, because his work was banned by the Nazis soon after they invaded the Netherlands.

After World War II, Greshoff's poetry became more introspective in tone. Because of his extended absence from the Netherlands, he did not witness the development of the experimental "Generation of '50." His more traditional rhymed poems, though still powerful, became dated in the eyes of postwar Dutch readers. In his final two collections, De laatste dingen and Wachten op Charon, he tried to dispel any remaining illusions and to come to terms with his approaching death.

Greshoff's many collections of aphorisms combine into a sketch of his world view and self-portrait. Together, they paint a picture of an undogmatic man, somewhat conservative yet nonconformist, averse to all slogans and collectivism. He placed great value on friendship, yet cherished a quiet life with his poetry.



Cassell's Encyclopedia of World Literature, Morrow (New York, NY), 1973.


Nieuw Vlaams Tijdschrift, Volume 25, issue 3, 1973, "De lantaarn en de dissel," pp. 309-310; July-August, 1980, A.G. Christiaens, "Nog over Greshoff te Brussel," pp. 616-620.

Ons erfdeel, January-February, 1980, Pierre H. Dubois, "De Brusselse jaren van Jan Greshoff," pp. 87-95.

Spiegel der Letteren, Volume 20, issue 3, 1978, P. Brachin, "Jan Greshoffs politieke houding, speciaal m.b.t. de 'Action Française,'" pp. 178-186.

Standpunte, Volume 88, 1970, "Kroniek der Nederlandse letteren VII," pp. 56-62; Volume 94, 1971, "Jan Greshoff," pp. 1-3.

Tydskrif vir Letterkunde, Volume 9, issue 1, 1971, "Ten huize van Jan Greshoff," pp. 2-3.

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Greshoff, Jan 1888–1971

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