Willem Bilderdijk

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Bilderdijk, Willem


Born Sept. 7, 1756, in Amsterdam; died Dec. 18, 1831, in Haarlem. Dutch poet, philologist, and historian. Representative of the religious-mystical trend in the Dutch romantic school. A lawyer by profession.

Since he was a supporter of the monarchy, Bilderdijk left Holland in 1795, during the period of the Batavian Republic. He returned in 1806, when Holland became a monarchy, and was appointed librarian to Louis Bonaparte. He was the author of many didactic narrative poems (Country Life, 1802; The Art of Poetry, 1809; and The World of Spirits, 1811), lyrical narrative poems (The Freeing of Holland, vols. 1–2, 1813–14), and hymns (“Willem Frederik,” 1815). He also wrote a philological work, The Principles of Etymology (1831). A History of the Fatherland (13 vols.), which was issued after his death by his pupils, is written in the spirit of absolutism, as were his tragedies (Floris V and Kormak).


Dichtwerken, parts 1–15. Haarlem, 1856–59.


Kollewijn, R. A. Bilderdijk: Zijn leven en zijn werken, parts 1–2. Amsterdam, 1891.
Bavinck, H. Bilderdijk als denker en dichter. Kampen, 1906.
Jong, M. J. G., and W. Zaal. Bilderdijk W.: Een overzicht van zijn leven en een keuze uit zijn werken. Kampen, 1960.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Bilderdijk realized this when he wrote Da Costa: "The fact that those who are by profession merchants and gamblers have no Christianity is self-explanatory." See Abraham Kuyper, The Problem of Poverty, ed.
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Howard Gaskill, in his famous article on "Ossian in Europe" summarizes the early European reception with the following words: "There is certainly some force to the argument that the Ossian which influenced Europe was not in fact Macpherson at all, but respectively Cesarotti, Denis, Le Tourneur, Bilderdijk, etc.: in other words, a hybrid creature mediated through Italian hendecasyllabic sciolti, German hexameters, French poetic prose, Dutch alexandrines, not to mention Greek fifteen-syllable lines or Russian four-foot trochaics with dactylic endings." (64) Perhaps we may rightly add that Janos Batsanyi's poetic experiments and the early Hungarian reception of Ossian fully exemplify the contemporary European tendency.
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