De volledigheidswaan van biografen


  • H. de Liagre Böhl





A. Kuiper, Een wijze ging voorbij. Het leven van Abel J. Herzberg; L. van Driel, J. Noordegraaf, De Vries en Te Winkel. Een duografie; W. Hazeu, M.C. Escher. Een biografie; J.W. Renders, Zo meen ik dat ook jij bent. Biografie van Jan Hanlo; M. Derks, S. Verheesen-Stegeman, Wetenschap als roeping. Prof. dr. Christine Mohrmann (1903-1988), classica; F. Zwart, Willem Mengelberg (1871-1951). Een biografie 1871-1920

The delusion that the scope of a biography is ever fully complete
This review article observes that, since the 1980s, the art of writing biographies has become fully accepted once more in academic circles in the Netherlands. This revival has been stimulated by positive collaborative efforts between historians and Dutch specialists. This harmony is based on their commitment to the principles of the Modem Biography, a style which counts since the first World War as the ‘ideal type’ of the whole genre. This style — which is mostly identified with Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918) - mediates between literature and historical studies. Their followers want to combine: 1. literary eloquence, 2. scholarly accuracy, 3. an analytic and a explicative concept about the personage and his or her work, 4. the skill of placing the character in the context of his or her time. Those four desiderata are used in this article as a point of departure for assessing six Dutch biographies that appeared in 1998. Some of them are excellent, however, all of them show a propensity towards empiricism and prolixity. Unfortunately this trait is characteristic of many recent biographies in The Netherlands


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How to Cite

Liagre Böhl, H. de. (2000). De volledigheidswaan van biografen. BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, 115(2), 252–260.



Review Articles