Praag, Siegfried Emanuel van
PRAAG, SIEGFRIED EMANUEL VAN
PRAAG, SIEGFRIED EMANUEL VAN (1899–2002), Dutch novelist and writer. He studied French language and literature at the Municipal University of Amsterdam, became a schoolteacher, married Hilda Sanders, and started a career as a writer. After 1933 they initiated a German department in the Allert de Lange publishing house in Amsterdam. They moved to Brussels in 1936. In 1940 they succeeded in reaching England, where Van Praag worked for the Belgian radio. After the war they returned to Brussels and Van Praag again taught school but mainly spent his time in writing. When he passed away in Brussels he could look back on a long life in letters – having written more than 60 books.
Van Praag wrote on literature: De West-Joden en hun letterkunde sinds 1860 (1926), In eigen en vreemden spiegel. Uit de letterkunde van en over Joden (1928).
He excelled in writing (historical) novels on women, Maria Nunes (1928), La Judith. Een groot actrice (1930; Ger., Judith, der Roman einer Schauspielerin, 1931), Julie de Lespinasse. Een groote minnares (1934), Madame de Pompadour. Roman van eerzucht en liefde (1936), Een vrouw van tact (1947), De Hebreeuwse lichtekooi (1954), and his last novel De lieve glorie van Truitje Bonnettemaker (1988). Moreover he was fascinated by people and by the animals of the Amsterdam Zoo ("Artis"), so he wrote articles on "Artis in de kunst" (1926) and on the topic of the animal in literature, Wij en de dieren (1932).
Along with the published recollections of Jaap Meijer, Meyer J. Perath, Mozes H. Gans, Meyer Sluyser, and Eddy van Amerongen, Van Praag's descriptions of pre-war Jewish Amsterdam have been decisive for younger generations. On this topic he wrote among others Jeruzalem van het Westen (1961; seventh pr., 1985), De oude darsjan. Over Jodenbuurten en joodse buurten (1971), and Een lange jeugd in Joods Amsterdam (1985), a companion volume (with about 100 photographs) to a film by Willy Lindwer made the previous year. The book covers his years 1899–1935 in Amsterdam. Van Praag wrote more extensively on his life in De arend en de mol. Autobiografische schetsen (1973). The memoirs of his wife, Hilda van Praag-Sanders, followed: Meedoen. Persoonlijk en nietpersoonlijke ervaringen van een journaliste (1975).
In 1995 he entrusted his library, manuscripts, correspondence and photographs to the Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana, Amsterdam University Library.
Siegfried E. van Praag. Een schrijver en zijn werk. Comp. by Bea Polak-Biet (1969), Preface by R. Bulthuis. Includes a short autobiography, an anthology, and a bibliography. on the acquisition of his library and archive: Studia Rosenthaliana, 29 (1995), 205f.
[F. J. Hoogewoud (2nd ed.)]