On July 5, 2016, Dr. Taru Spiegel, Reference Specialist of the European Division of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C., received John Schwartz to transmit two recent books with love stories written by Maarten Maartens, a nineteenth-century Dutch author writing in English. Maarten Maartens, alias Joost Marius Willem van der Poorten Schwartz (1858-1915) – a great-uncle of John Schwartz – wrote 13 novels and four volumes of short stories in English and became very famous with it. Ted Roosevelt received him – and his daughter – at the White House in 1907. He received an honorary degree at Western University in Pittsburg in 1907 and a similar award together with Thomas Hardy at Aberdeen University in Scotland in 1905. He lived in Doorn in the center of The Netherlands but frequently traveled to England to mingle with other well-known literary authors and critics, who became close friends.
The books transmitted were entitled “At Home and Abroad – Stories of Love”, a collection of 33 short stories Maarten Maartens published in various reputable magazines and compiled by Dr. Bouwe Postmus on behalf of the Maarten Maartens Foundation in Doorn, and “Maarten Maartens Rediscovered – Part II – His Best Short Stories” by John Schwartz. The latter is a summarization of the four volumes of short stories which Maarten Maartens published with various reputable English, American, and German publishing houses.
In November 2015, the LOC formally received “Maarten Maartens Rediscovered – Part I,” by John Schwartz, which is a summarization of Maarten Maartens’ 13 novels.
These summarizations contain much of Maarten Maartens’ own writing to give readers a flavor of the author’s outstanding talent. The same method was followed in the summarization of the short stories, although a few were so well written that they are fully reproduced. The LOC was particularly pleased to add the book by Bouwe Postmus to their Maarten Maartens collection because it was new material.
Above: Maarten Maartens 13 novels and 4 volumes of short stories, and “Letters by Maarten Maartens,” compiled by his daughter Ada van der Poorten Schwartz. Of course, at the top of the photo, the word “No” is missing from the “Food or Drink permitted.”
The Library of Congress, formally The Thomas Jefferson Building, is a very special place characterized by its famous Dome. First of all, it is the solemn silence that reigns in the reading and working rooms and that constitutes the prominent atmosphere in which researchers and readers can work productively, and “Forgotten Writers” such as Maarten Maartens can be studied and reside in peace. No cell phones, no picture taking, except in the public areas. Here follow a few pictures I could take as a “privileged visitor” of the areas where the public can’t go.
First, a few murals painted by the Brazilian painter Cândido Portinari in the Hispanic Reading Room, showing the arrival of Hispanic peoples in America, and the poster indicating we are in the European Division where Maarten Maartens’ books are kept.
Following are pictures of the main reading room, taken from inside the Valhalla of the LOC through a glass wall looking out.
Below the magnificently sculptured clock “Flight of Time” by John Flanagan that took seven years to complete and was shipped in parts from Paris before being installed in the Library when the reading room was finally finished in 1902. It is not unlikely that Maarten Maartens when visiting the White House in 1907 also visited this building.
Below a few pictures of the Hall of the LOC where tourists dwell and make numerous photographs.
We end with a view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol seen from the LOC.
All in all, a nice place for Maarten Maartens to be interred: in quiet and with friends who appreciate him.
When I grew up in Holland, England was across the sea horizon. So close that when my 6 foot 2 father walked into the sea at the beach with my younger sister on his shoulder, she screamed full of anxiety, “not to England father, not to England father!” That happened just after we were liberated from Germany and we could go to the beach again. In Holland, we loved England despite what we were taught in class about our 100-year bloody sea-wars with each other in the 17th and 18th centuries. These wars were mostly “commercial wars” about sea trade to the Far East for “spices,” and hegemony in the Americas and West-Indies. We lost New Amsterdam to the Brits who renamed it New York. That was bad, and I am still mad about that. But in 1945, England helped liberate us from the Germans. ” The Tommies,” as their soldiers were called, conquered many blonde Dutchies.
Everyone wanted to build a new Europe free from division and wars. The US helped rebuild Europe with the Marshall Plan. Regional collaboration started between Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, “The Benelux”, launched by representatives of the three countries exiled in London in 1944, with a Secretariat in Brussels. At the Ministry of Economic Affairs in The Hague, I participated in those activities. It was mostly built on commercial interests. I adored Brussels for many reasons, foremost good French fries, mussels, delightful steak salade, white Mosel wine from Luxemburg. And the beautiful Grand Place with its many sidestreets where you can dine and wine was always like heaven.
My greatest fun was that we received a tax-free compensation for those Brussels meetings that I used to buy my liquor with back home in The Hague. That compensation always increased if the meetings lasted beyond 4.30 PM. So, even if there was nothing to discuss anything more, somebody always came up at the last moment with some urgent issue to resolve. And we went happily home with the extra bonus. Later, when I had a girlfriend living with me, it saved me from ruin because I had to pay for her telephone calls.
“The Coal and Steel Community” came to life in 1951, covering the Benelux, France, Italy, and Germany, which was the precursor of the European Economic Union (EEC), established in 1958. The UK wanted to be a member of the six-country union, but former President de Gaulle blocked its membership because he said it would be the Trojan Horse bringing in the USA to meddle in “Europe’s affairs.” The UK then joined with other European countries bordering the EEC to establish the competing EFTA (Economic Free Trade Association), among others with Ireland, Switzerland, and the Nordic countries, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Iceland. So from the outset, the EEC was a continental European affair. The UK became only a member in 1973 after La Douce France lifted her veto skirt. But it has always been a lukewarm relationship. And now it is out again. The good idea of unification after WW II became entangled in overly centralized governing by Brussels and uncontrollable borders with undesirable immigrants.
Churchill, by the way, wanted a federal Europe like the US, but it excluded the UK because that was a self-standing entity. The Brits wanted “self.” It took only 43 years, a blip in history.
It was basically a matter of English breakfast versus Continental breakfast. I love English breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, sliced baked potatoes, smoked mackerel, English tea, so good that we could not stop eating at the Heathrow airport Hilton and missed our flight. Also, because access to Heathrow airport is like a real bottleneck and continuously jammed. Conversely, a continental breakfast consists of espresso, a croissant with some jelly, and perhaps a little cookie. That’s all.
The French continental breakfast
Although I prefer my Douce France for dinner, I prefer my Perfide Albion for breakfast. With the British pound down for a while, I may just go and get it. I remember the dollar was high in 1984, and we stocked up on good English shoes, coats, and curios, and had a ball at Selfridges and Harrods. And we gauged on a succulent English lamb that had become ridiculously expensive because of the EEC.
A feast that warrants repetition thanks to Brexit. God Save The Queen.
You see the war movies this Memorial Day weekend. Youngsters probably don’t even realize it’s a weekend to remember the fallen. For them it’s barbecue day and heading for the first beach festivity. They should know they can because the fallen saved their lives.
For someone like me who has lived through war and escaped – miraculously – being hit by bombs or gunfire, or being taken away by cruel thugs who “followed orders” to put you away, it is difficult to understand that generations who have not experienced war do not understand what it means. Movies show explosions and people flying through the air in pieces, and we sit in front of the screen, either at home or in a theater, and just continue eating our steak or popcorn, not feeling the excruciating pain that goes with it and that those victims must suffer.
The US was hit badly at Pearl Harbor, and lost many thousands of brave men and women liberating Europe from Nazi Germany and Asia from Samurai Japan. Some seventy years later, the Twin Towers got hit by Osama bin Laden. On both occasions, thousands of dead. In between and thereafter, there were Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, and the Middle-East where many young soldiers paid the ultimate sacrifice, defending freedom and civilization.
People grow quickly complacent. Bursting bombs and flames on TV and in the movies numb your senses of what it really means: horrible pain, extreme suffering, helpless maimed bodies, deep loss for fellow humans who met this fate in defense of our freedom and ability to continue living the easy life. Did you ever as much burn your finger, to imagine what dying in a ball of flames does to your senses?
I don’t like those thugs in the streets protesting, for what? If they ask them, they don’t even know!
If I had the power, I would round them all up and make them work hard in an army camp for a while, drill them, make them climb obstacles, discipline them and give them a taste of what freedom really means and what we have to do to keep it. And, of course, some people will scream at me, “You are a bigot, racist!” or whatever. Really? So what then is so good about wild and uncontrolled protestors? Do they need extra protection and baby care under the First Amendment of “free speech?” Don’t they realize they can protest only because they live in Freedom and that violence at it is NOT a right?
I remember that -when I studied in Belgium – police rounded up protesting students, hoisted them into trucks, and let them lose one by one far in the country side to walk back home. Good riddance. But the networks love to show the wild ones throwing stones or even Molotov cocktails at the police – who are protecting them normally from thugs like themselves – because those images are “sensational” – attract viewers – and are good for the ratings and advertising fees. It’s all very topsy-turvy.
On Memorial Day Weekend, as on other memorable days, I hang out the flags, of the US and Holland.
In memory of the fallen who made it possible for me to live a good life. I think of the many with maimed bodies, still finding the willpower and strength to get by with what they have, and even do Olympics. Those are the people I respect. Those are the people those street thugs should take as an example. True, anarchist people have always existed and always will, from the old classic days of Romans and Greeks to the French Revolution and the Nazi Brownshirts. The only difference between then and now is, that they can be shown on TV and that the Networks love to show them. They give these thugs the notoriety that they do not deserve at all, in particular when they put a certain political party in a bad light. How convenient for the “objective reporting” media.
What a difference our Freedom Fighters make! In the Army, on the sea and in the air!
May 4 is Audrey’s birthday. Each year we remember her. I do and so many others. This portrait stood on the grand I played on at my grandparent’s home in Holland. It is a rare picture that you won’t find very easily among the thousands of Audrey pictures floating around on the internet. It was taken by Noël Mayne in London in the early fifties when Audrey was modelling and acting in cabarets, and not yet discovered. Her mother, who I used to call Aunt Ella, had left it with my Aunt Nini (the spouse of Count John Paul van Limburg Stirum who from 1916-1921 was Governor of the Dutch Indies where Aunt Ella, her niece, married her first husband). She visited Aunt Nini from time to time, and I met her there, too. She gave it to me, and so it landed on my piano.
Not so long after that she sent me the famous picture of Audrey in Gigi on Broadway, for which she had been selected when she visited Cannes in 1952. For a long time I thought this photo was just for me, until I found out it was all over the place.
I met Audrey for the first time in 1943 when she was just thirteen and I seven. That was during World War II when she lived with her mother and two stepbrothers in her grandfather’s house in Velp, near the city of Arnhem, close to my grandparent’s place. Her mother was then divorced from her second husband Mr. Ruston, who had stayed in England. Baron van Heemstra was Mayor of Arnhem before the war. He and my grandfather were related. Audrey came to visit on a horse-driven carriage, sitting between her mother and grandfather, on an afternoon for tea. She and I ran around the estate together. Though danger of bombs and fighter planes were a constant threat, and Germans were everywhere, even on my grandparent’s estate, we were only interested in my grandmother’s great cake. Audrey was enthusiastic about becoming a ballet dancer.
Both pictures are family pictures. The first (which slipped into the internet) is Audrey at age 13. The second is Audrey dancing in Arnhem at age 16, also given to me by her mother through my Aunt Nini. I gave the portrait and the dancing originals to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund for keeps.
For some reason, I could never forget her smile. It had a brilliance I would never see again until I met my wife. Then war reached a pinnacle and we could not see each other. I lived in Amsterdam, and when everyone thought we were going to be liberated, we heard that the battle of Arnhem had failed. There were thousands of deaths. We feared Audrey and her family were dead too. We suffered a long very cold winter without food, the hunger winter of 1944/45.
Then, finally, on May 5, 1945, we were free, after five bitter years of war and suffering.
But things changed rapidly. My father died shortly after liberation when he was run over by a British truck while bicycling to his brewery in Amsterdam. My grandfather died shortly thereafter of illness. It was a horrible time for me. Then we moved in with my grandmother in the countryside. But Audrey moved in the opposite direction to Amsterdam with her mother, to continue her dancing lessons with Sonia Gaskell. I did not see them anymore before they left for London where Audrey – being British through her father Joseph Ruston – had received a scholarship at the Rambert Ballet. Audrey kept the name Hepburn her father had acquired from his grandmother’s maiden name.
I was at boarding school, about 16 or so, when my mother called me that Audrey had become a film star! It was “Roman Holiday,” with Gregory Peck. I still see myself standing at the “middle court” of the school being admired. All of a sudden I became “famous”, too, because I knew her. I think each time she made a new movie, we went to see it immediately with my family and family friends who knew her. I remember we did not like Sabrina that much, because she married Humphrey Bogart, who was much too old for her and an obvious mismatch. Gary Cooper with Audrey in Love in the Afternoon was better, although he was also too old. Couldn’t they find younger guys? It took years before she finally teamed up with George Peppard in Breakfast at Tiffany’s in 1961 and with Cary Grant in Charade in 1964! Aunt Ella kept sending pictures, one with her first husband, Mel Ferrer, and their little son Sean, which was used for a Christmas card.
It was only years later in the mid-seventies that I saw Audrey again, at a surprise moment, when she visited friends for a birthday party in Geneva. It meant the world to me: finally. I had written to see her when she was filming Charade with Cary Grant in 1963 in Paris where I studied.
But, even though she wrote back she remembered, she was so busy she did not have time to put a stamp on an envelop. This time we could remember the war time and our first encounter in Holland.
I wrote a story about my fascination with Audrey. There are many books about her, including wonderful picture books issued by her sons, Sean, and Luca (from her second marriage to Count Andrea Dotti, her psychiatrist). My story is a personal one I cherish, because it is mine alone. It is for sale on Amazon and whatever proceeds I get from it I send to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.
Audrey was an icon for UNICEF and did so much good raising money for the many deprived orphans and malnourished children of the Third World. She traveled all over the world after her movie career, and then got felled by illness herself that took her away from us in 1993 in a very short time, only 63 years old.
Audrey in Ethiopia
It was a very sad moment to learn she had left us, but at the same time so enlightening, as I had had the privilege of knowing her, albeit at the outer edge of her fabulous orbit. I still benefit and draw strength from her brilliant beam of light in the difficult moments of human life. Who could have imagined that that little girl I met during a cruel war would turn into that magnificent woman for so many millions of people, as her son Sean titled her in his wonderful picture book, “An Elegant Spirit.” And Luca’s lovely photo book “Audrey in Rome” as well.
Luca Dotti’s Audrey Cook book!
Repeated because you asked.
Wish you all a blessed Easter.
A last meal and blessing hand
Bring us peace in holy land
Make your neighbor a best friend
Hate has no place in holy land
My heart will fold as red as blood
Forgive I will my tears will flood
You were created to be good
An undivided brotherhood
Lavender blue will spread in spring
It’s peace of mind that it will bring
Don’t make hate your tool of life
End your endless deeds of strife
Shout that peace is good for all
Not just you in clustered walls
Tear them down your flags of hate
They are NOT an act of faith
Shaking hands across the line
Sharing meals of bread and wine
Showing trust in someone’s heart
Making one a world apart
[And keep that dagger just in case
The other earthling shows bad grace ]