Pleij, Herman 1943-

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PLEIJ, Herman 1943-


Male. Born February 24, 1943, in the Netherlands. Education: University of Amsterdam, Ph.D. (cum laude), 1968.


Office—University of Amsterdam, Institute of Culture and History, spuis traat 134, Amsterdam 101 2 VB, Netherlands. E-mail—[email protected].


University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, lecturer on Dutch historical literature.


He gilde van de Blauwe Schuit: literatuur, volksfeest en burgermoraal in de late middeleeuwen, Meulenhoff (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1979.

De blauwe schuit, Coutinho (Muiderberg, Netherlands), 1979.

Een Nyeuwe clucht boeck: een zestiende-eeuwse anekdotenverzameling, Coutinho (Muiderberg, Netherlands), 1983.

Het literaire leven in de middeleeuwen, Nijhoff (Leiden, Netherlands), 1984.

Van schelmen en schavuiten: laatmiddeleeuwse vagebondteksten, Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1985.

't Is al vrouwenwerk: refreinen van Anna Bijns, Em. Querido (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1987.

De sneeuwpoppen van 1511: literatuur en tussen middeleeuwen en modern tijd, Meulenhoff (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1988.

Nederlandse literatuur van de late middeleeuwen, HES (Utrecht, Netherlands), 1990.

Sprekend over de middeleeuwen, Teleac (Utrecht, Netherlands), 1991.

Het Nederlandse onbehagen, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1992.

Kleuren van de middeleeuwen, Aramith (Bloemendaal, Netherlands), 1994.

Zandgrond, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1994.

Mooi meegenomen?: Over de genietbaarheid van oudere teksten uit de Nederlandse letterkunde, University of Amsterdam (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1997.

Dromen van Cocagne: middeleeuwse fantasieën over volmaakte leve, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1997; translated by Diane Webb as Dreaming of Cockaigne: Medieval Fantasies of the Perfect Life, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Hollands welbehagen, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1998.

Tegen de barbarij: tien stukken over vaderlandse beschaving, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1999.

Van karmijn, purper en blauw: over kleuren van de Middeleeuwen en daarna, Prometheus (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2002.


Herman Pleij, a very prolific Dutch author, has written almost two dozen books on Dutch history. A few of them have been translated into English, including Dreaming of Cockaigne: Medieval Fantasies of the Perfect Life. Pleij does an admirable job searching for a complete history of Cockaigne, an utopia invented in the Middle Ages that is filled with all the things people's lives then lacked. In this land life is enhanced by the absence of work of any kind, a fountain of youth, readily available sex, and, above all, lots of food. Deborah Downs-Miers, writing for Utopian Studies, explained, "Pleij's intention is to explore the functions and meanings of the idea of Cockaigne during the transition from the late Middle Ages to the early-modern era." Pleij divides his book into eight sections and includes eighty illustrations.

R. A. Shoaf, reviewing the book in Choice, explained that Dreaming of Cockaigne "looks both backward to oral predecessors and forward to developments in 15th-and early-16th-century northwestern Europe." Shoaf continued, "A combination of cultural, social, and literary history, the book is an excellent example of the scholarly benefits of concentration on primary sources." Marilyn Corrie, writing in the Guardian, observed that the author "constructs a wide-ranging and at times compelling account of the experiences and beliefs of the Middle Ages." A Publishers Weekly critic called the book a "serious and even ponderous scholarly study" that Pleij "subjects to rigorous textual, paleographical and stylistic analysis." Downs-Mier noted that the book is "truly helpful" and Eugene Web from the New Republic thought Dreaming of Cockaigne is "remarkable … a scholarly and sumptuous discussion of once-upon-a-time fantasies of the perfect life."



Choice, October, 2001, R. A. Shoaf, review of Dreaming of Cockaigne: Medieval Fantasies of the Perfect Life, p. 294.

New Republic, September 17, 2001, Eugen Web, review of Dreaming of Cockaigne, p. 55.

Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2001, review of Dreaming of Cockaigne, p. 83.

Utopian Studies, winter, 2002, Deborah Downs-Mier, review of Dreaming of Cockaigne, pp. 241-43.


Guardian Online, (September 5, 2001), Marilyn Corrie, review of Dreaming of Cockaigne.*