Yes, that’s how one writer friend reacted when reading the manuscript of SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN – http://amzn.to/1QIL94B (If the link does not function, which often happens with WordPress.org, simply paste it into your url). My writing friend, was he jealous? Perhaps!
What made me write that book? Clairaudience, clairvoyance, clairsentience in the Library of the Maarten Maartens House in Holland, during a family reunion in 2002. As infidels in the medium-world, my cousin Anne and I did not believe we were in trance with Maarten Maartens, our Great-Uncle Joost Schwartz, who wrote so many novels and short stories in English that made him famous in the USA and the UK at the turn of the 19th/20th century. Under the pen name of Maarten Maartens. But we were! He died in 1915, leaving a wealth of literature behind: 13 published novels and four collections of short stories, plays, poems and even a detective story, the first ever written in Holland.
One short story collection was entitled Some Women I Have Known. Uncle Joost whispered: “Write your own!” And indeed, Anne and I decided to write our own “Some Women”, in memoriam of our Uncle Joe. When the trance dissolved, we looked at each other and laughed. When we told some hundred family members and guests, they laughed too: “Hah! You will never do that! All talk, no doing!”
Unfortunately, Anne passed away before we got underway. The project seemed doomed. But Uncle Joost kept working on me. You have to write your version, he kept telling me. And, I did as he did: I began by writing ten short stories about some of the women I had known and found important enough to commemorate, from my early years on. Then I turned the short stories into a memoir/coming-of-age novel, giving the narrator a fictitious name: John van Dorn, to create some distance from myself.
The novel starts with Audrey Hepburn. She came to play at my grandparents’ residence where I stayed on vacation during 1943, in the middle of World War II. She was 13 and I was 7, and her last name was not “Hepburn” yet, but Ruston, her father’s name. She lived close by us, near Arnhem, with her mother, Aunt Ella, her mother’s sister, her two half-brothers (who were taken prisoner by the Nazis but later found alive). They stayed in the house of her grandfather, Baron van Heemstra, formerly the mayor of Arnhem. We could, of course, not imagine she would become a wonderful film star ten years later. And I did not know I would meet her again much later in life.
Young Audrey at about 13 and a few years later taking ballet lessons in Arnhem, around 1947 (family pictures).
Audrey, when she was 21 modeling in London, in 1950/51, acting in cabarets, not yet “discovered”. A picture given to me by her mother that stood on our grand piano at home.
The novel continues with my funny adventures with two Anns during my early years of puberty, testing the waters with the other sex.
The next chapter is about my grandmother, “Lady D,” who left an indelible impression on me and whose wisdom and personality guided me through life. I like that chapter because people who knew her will recognize her manifold qualities as a wonderful human being who stood out above many.
The novel continues with my boarding school time when I, as a piano player, got to know a lovely cellist and started making music with her, a story that may surprise those who remember Catholicism in the nineteen-fifties because it took place at a time of strict Jesuit discipline that forbade any contact with the other sex!
My picture with the charming cellist taken by two courageous friends in the lobby of the boarding school. A most risky undertaking!
Then my naughty story about Tisja the Village Beauty, the seductive help in the house who became my “first” when I was serving in the army. Oh boy, the pitfalls of growing up!
I skipped the girls in my student time. One remains a painful memory, too painful to describe. It imploded during a brief but intense and emotional love affair with student pianist Geneviève at a Paris conservatorium.
From that adventure I returned brokenhearted to Holland to take on my first job and, vulnerable as I was, fell into the hands of a smart but destructive beauty. Irene Femme Fatale, I called her.
I am so thankful to the gods for having saved me from her tentacles. Why are males so naïve? Our libido, the male’s most dangerous flaw! Female scorpions kill their mates after the fun. In the case of us male humans, we fall into the trap, kill her before she kills us, or keep paying alimony for the rest of our life and even from our coffin after it’s over. OMG!
I fled Holland to take a job in Geneva, Switzerland. I thought I had found a marvelous girlfriend there. We shared some beautiful and passionate years until it broke on philosophy of life. Then it did not work out in my job either. It was boring, and I wanted a change. I think it was mutual. To sooth my losses, I went skiing but got lost in the woods. I almost froze to death. In half-delirium, I found my way back to my lodge and ran into that magnificent Viking, by pure accident.
Ingrid and I spent some wonderful days together, but again, it was not to be. Out of pure frustration, I took a job in Central Africa and swore to stay out of the female tentacles. In Burundi I met a Tutsi woman refugee, and you really have to read the story to know what happened!
Purified from all my failures, I took a job with the World Bank in Washington D.C., where I finally met the woman who brought me love and peace.
I personally feel that my version of Some Women I Have Known is a good read. We all live different lives but encounter similar moments. Several good 5 star reviews on Amazon.com attest to that.
Read it all in
Kindle or Paperback, and enjoy it with a cappuccino in the morning or a brandy in the evening.
By the way, the cute and stylish cover designs of the short stories are by Melanie Stephens of Willow Manor Publishing in Fredericksburg Virginia (www.willowmanorpublishing.com), who also published the novel.
PS: Don’t forget my novel Enchanting The Swan we showed last week: also a perfect Christmas gift!http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o
It’s all in the family: horses front and center. Above left, all Dutch: Grandfather Hector van Coehoorn van Sminia and his son Arent (who tragically died at the age of 23 in a flying accident): admiring their trophy won for breeding the best warmbloods, right the Grandfather on his horse at his estate, below Grandson John on his Arabian in the mountains near Petra in Jordan, and below the great-granddaughter (American born!) Samantha Schwartz, jumping with Beau at her Virginian Misty Farm stable. (A left click on the pictures will enlarge most except those taken from internet sources, then click the back space at the top left and you are back in the blog).
Those were the images floating through my mind when we watched the World Cup jumping concours at the Washington International Horse Show at the Verizon Center last night, October 24.
It was a marvelous display of beautiful horses with excellent riders, and a prideful winner: Dutchman Harrie Smolders, who won the competition just ahead of American Callan Solem (riding a Dutch warmblood!) and Belgian Nicola Philippaerts (Credit to TimeLine Photos) It was a challenging but intelligent course designed by Anthony d’Ambrosio (USA), to ensure riders and horses would qualify for the next steps to win the World Cup (Madrid and next year’s prestigious Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final, which will take place in Gothenburg (SWE) on 23-28 March 2016). Even the best horses found it hard to master it to perfection.
EQWO.net writes: D’Ambrosio purposefully set a demanding course to ensure that the right horse-and-rider combinations would earn the valuable points toward qualifying for the culminating event in the spring.
“I strive to design a course that rewards the riders who are capable of going to the World Cup Final,” D’Ambrosio said. “World Cup Qualifiers have to have a standard that is somewhat similar in consistency. It’s to prepare the horses and riders to have the accuracy to jump the dimensions. That’s an important part of my job.”
All in all it was a delight to see them flying over the obstacles, one after one, in a mighty show of athletic strength. But it was a good feeling to see Dutchman Harrie Smolders fly faultless over them twice with his wonderful horse Emerald (and an emerald he is!). Emerald is from famous French jumping blood Diamant de Semilly, whose father, Le Tot de Semilly was a legend in France. Harrie had won at the Washington Horse Show already in 2006 and had the honor to have his name inscribed on the gold cup for a second time.
Fotos Arnd Bronkhorst (www.arnd.nl)
EQWO.net writes: “This show suits me,” Smolders said. “I don’t know why, but the results are always good. And for our stable, it’s been very successful this week. My student Jos Verlooy (BEL) was fourth in tonight’s class and won the Puissance on Friday night, and is the leading rider of the show. It’s a bit busy with the classes going on and telling my students all the information that I know, but it really worked out.”
Interestingly, Harrie Smolders rides at the Belgian stable Euro Horse, run by Axel Verlooy, whose 17-year old son Jos just lost out (finishing 4th) in the finals of the Washington Horse show but as Smolders says above, he won the Puissance on Friday.
It is interesting to know that Harrie Smolders is Jos’s personal trainer. So Belgian Euro Horse did very well. Note that the other two riders, Nicola and Olivier Philippaerts of the Belgian Philippaerts stable both made good points at the Horse Show as well, but Olivier’s Legend of Love ended 13th in the World Cup exercise due to two faults in the first round. This was Legend’s first World Cup show and Olivier said Legend needed a bit more experience to win.
All in all: a wonderful evening for horse lovers like me and daughter Samantha! And some good Dutch pride on top of that.
Yes, indeed. That’s him at 18, then and now, 79. It feels like a hundred! Just got back from The Netherlands where we commemorated the writing life of The Most Popular Dutch Author Abroad, Maarten Maartens, alias Joost van der Poorten Schwartz, who passed away 100 years ago.
Will I be commemorated in one hundred years? You? He or she? Maybe some great-grandchildren may vaguely remember John Schwartz. But I don’t count on being talked about, let alone celebrated.
Well, Maarten Maartens was, on September 26-27, in Doorn, a small but elite village near Utrecht in the center of Holland.
Some 150 people came to listen to several speakers who spoke about the writer’s life and vision, his religious background and the sense of moral conflict in his oeuvre, his care for his sickly wife Anna and love for his daughter Ada, his many friends in England and the United States, and the strange rebuke of his native land. His keen sense for art, languages and the written word pictured a remarkable man, a poet, playwright and philosopher. So many things combined in one person to admire. Few of us achieve what he did.
His former residence, “Zonheuvel” (Sun Hill), designed by himself according to similar old stately mansions in the Netherlands he had lived in, was full with people, taking a glimpse of how he lived, at the dining room with the grand, the salon, card room, and his famous library with the many ancient books he acquired.
In succession, the residence, the dining room with the grand piano, the library and the garden, which used to be a French garden inspired by the Chateau de Versailles. Unfortunately, some of the old furniture and curios, especially in the dining room and the hall, which contained a wonderful collection of old rifles, swords and harnesses, are not there anymore, as they were removed from the premises. I still remember them when I visited the house as a kid. I used this memory to describe the residence of Baron de Maconville in my novel Enchanting The Swan. Pictures in a little book put together by Th. M. Gorissen, show how it was, originally. I am still mad as hell these items were sold or taken away after I had left the Netherlands in 1969, but the Maartens Library is kept in tact by the Slotemaker De Bruine Institute (SBI)
Reception Committee (Lucie Wessels, left, and Itje Verhagen, right, both of SBI) at the Poort House, entrance to the Maarten Maartens House.
Mr. Jurriaan Röntgen, chairman of the organizing committee who put together the MM Symposium weekend, with next to him Dr. Bouwe Postmus, President of the Maarten Maartens Foundation, and Mr. Jan Willem van Dongen, Mayor of Doorn and the Utrecht Hills Region, at the inauguration of the Maarten Maartens Allée, underneath the Poort House at the entrance of the Maarten Maartens House.
Next, a glimpse of the author’s writing desk in his library full of valuable ancient books, with some interesting people taking seat behind it.
Dr. Hendrik Breuls, who wrote his doctoral dissertation about Maarten Maartens, and his wife, Anna-Christina; both spoke at the Symposium.
Two of Maarten Maartens’ great grand nieces, Marinke Kranendonk and Lily Gabizon. “Some Women!”
First left: Marie Kranendonk-Schwartz, grand-niece of Maarten Maartens. Second photograph, right, Dr. Bouwe Postmus, who collected Maarten Maartens’ short stories (which I consider his greatest strengths), published in English and American magazines, in a new volume At Home and Abroad, Stories of Love (2015 – Stichting Maarten Maartens, The Netherlands; ISBN 978 90 9029026 3).
Maaren Maartens’ quotes displayed in his library
An old organ in the house
The oldest living “Schwartz” in the Salon, Mrs. Hans Wichers Hoedt – van der Laan, daughter of Marietje Schwartz, a sister of Maarten Maartens.
Pianist Shuann Chai, who performed during the evening concert in the “Maartenskerk” (Maartens Church) in Doorn, with narrator Huib Ramaer, who linked together the various sonnets and poems by Maarten Maartens and others, put to music by among others Dutch composer René Samson.
Mattijs van de Woerd, baritone, right, who performed the MM sonnets, as well as other songs by Edward Elgar, Frank Bridge, Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton, written by English authors such as John Keats, William Thackeray, Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kipling, with whom Maarten Maartens entertained regular contacts during his life.
Dutch composer René Samson, with pianist Shuann Chai and baritone Mattijs van de Woerd, enjoying warm applause for their marvelous performance.
Painter Michiel Kranendonk explaining how he constructed the wall-painting of the Maarten Maartens Huis, which is displayed in the nearby Paviljoen building (Zonheuvel Hotel) on the grounds.
Maarten Maartenshuis painted by Michiel Kranendonk
Eymert van Manen, co-founder of the Foundation of the Crowned Falcon, the former trademark of Van Vollenhoven’s Beer, during the MM-luncheon, savoring recipes from Maarten Maartens’ cookbook. The Foundation recreated the Crowned Falcon’s famous Stout in 2006, and re-established the Falcon on its pillar in Amsterdam at the previous location of the brewery, which was the main source of wealth of Maarten Maartens and his wife Anna van Vollenhoven at the turn of the 20th century (see related blogs under tags Van Vollenhoven’s Stout and Eymert van Manen). The Stout, which has been renewed each year since its inauguration, will be commercially produced shortly by a renewed Van Vollenhoven’s Beer brewery.
Mrs. van Manen, Junte Schwartz and cousin Hans Wichers Hoedt,
Anne van Delft, narrator, presents the writings of Maarten Maartens in one of the stately rooms of the Maarten Maartens House.
Jurriaan Röntgen, chairman of the MM-Commemoration Committee, left with his wife Aleid on a baclony of the Maarten Maartens House, and right, in conversation with painter Michiel Kranendonk and Henriette van Zwet- de Savornin Lohman, member of the Organizing Committee.
Showcases with curios related to Maarten Maartens, his life, his work. Middle photo on the right, Mrs Henriette van Zwet-de Savornin Lohman, member of the Organizing Committee, explaining the contents.
Mrs. Marie Kranendonk-Schwartz, grand niece of Maarten Maartens, and member of the MM Organizing Committee, giving her speech on the occasion of the Maarten Maartens Symposium, with her daughter Sascha Gabizon in the background, smiling.
Mr. Jan Nierman, spouse of Alexandra Röntgen, sister of the organizer of the MM commemoration, Jurriaan Röntgen, inspecting the Schwartz Family Tree; what a job to put that one together!
John Schwartz, grand nephew of Maarten Maartens, author of Maarten Maartens Rediscovered (2015, WillowManorPublishing.com). Part Two, His Best Short Stories, a summarization of his four collections of published short stories, will appear in 2016.
On September 25, 2015, a great forgotten writer will be remembered in Holland at this historic mansion in Doorn, in the province of Utrecht. Maarten Maartens, alias Jozua van der Poorten Schwartz, who between 1889 and 1912 published 13 novels and four volumes of short stories, authoring them directly in English even though he was a born Dutchman, died 100 years ago, in 1915, just after his whole oeuvre was reissued by Constable & Co. in London in 2014, an honor few authors befalls.
Flying to Amsterdam from Washington Dulles last night, I saw a British-American 2015 movie, Far From the Madding Crowd, based on the 1874 novel by the British author Thomas Harding. Thomas Harding and Maarten Maartens were friends. Both were honored in 1905 at the same time with honorary doctorates bestowed on them by Aberdeen University. I was struck by how well Harding’s novel was adapted and acted out. A gripping movie. Go see it and you will agree.
At the same time I thought how well some of Maarten Maartens novels could be worth a movie. In particular his novel Dorothea, about a pristine young woman, whose mother died giving her birth. She leaves Dorothea most of her substantial estate and money because her husband Captain Sandring is a gambling soldier and womanizer. The Captain leaves Dorothea in the hands of two strict Protestant aunts0, who immerse her in Bible texts. When she reaches the age of twenty, her estranged father commands her to join him Paris. He exposes her to the decadent world of Nice, Cannes and Monte Carlo in the hope to marry her out for money so he can gamble with hers. This does not work out the way he planned and the ensuing story, especially Dorothea’s wretched marriage, is most engaging.
Another novel good for a movie is The Price of Lis Doris, about a gifted painter like Van Gogh, whose work is stolen by his drawing master Odo Pareys. Odo threatens to do harm to Yetta, Otto’s wife and Lis’s protector in their early youth. If Lis ever tells anybody it was not Odo but Lis who painted these masterworks, Yetta will suffer. The whole plot is worth a thrilling movie.
I felt lucky that the Higher Powers pushed me to make summarizations of his novels, often long in the style of the nineteenth-century, to lift his work out of oblivion, so that people studying 19th century authors, or even my own off-spring and their future generations, could enjoy his original stories and taste his fluent writing style and sharp dialogues. After reading his novels, I began to understand his deserved acclaim in the USA, UK and Germany at his time.
His first book was a detective story, The Black-box Murder, written anonymously by “The Man Who Discovered the Murder.” He wrote and self-published it after he read a then popular detective story while sojourning in Paris, The Mystery of a Hanson Cab, just to show he could write as well as anybody else. And he proved right. The Black-box Murder is still sold by Print On Demand companies through among others Abebooks.com. It is a lightly written mystery thriller, and several of his next books retain a mystery murder twist as in The Sin of Joost Avelingh and God’s Fool.
Maarten Maartens Rediscovered – The Most Popular Dutch Author Abroad was published in August 2015.
Kirkus Reviews gave it a commendable critique which was published in the Kirkus Magazine of September of the same year, something that only happens to less than 10 % of their reviews.
Part II, The Short Stories, which are summarizations of his four volumes of collected short stories, will appear in November/December of 2015.
A great writer not to be forgotten!
MAARTEN MAARTENS (1858-1915)
This month, 100 years ago, Maarten Maartens, the pen-name of Jozua Marius Willem van der Poorten Schwartz, died, on August 3, after a most productive life as a novel writer, playwright and poet. He is mostly known for his 13 novels and 4 short story collections, published by renowned publishing houses in America and England, as well as in Germany.
His legacy is impressive. A Dutchman writing directly in English, he received honorary degrees for his work from Aberdeen University in 1905, and Western University (now Pitt University) in Pennsylvania in 1907. On that occasion he also made a speech to inaugurate the extension of the Carnegy Institute in Pittsburg, on invitation by Andrew Carnegy himself. President Roosevelt received him – and his daughter Ada – for a private conversation about his work at the White House. A picture of the partial Carnegy Institute List of Visiting Guests in 1907 is below.
Maarten Maartens features as the only representative from Holland at this memorable occasion. He and Andrew Carnegy had become close friends while sojourning in the UK.
A copy of his Honorary Degree from Western University is shown hereunder:
The New York Times of Appril 14, 1907 devoted an article with a long interview of Maarten Maartens that particularly referred to his novels as representative of the modern literary instinct moving to realism.
His books are in many libraries – these pictures are of his novels kept in the Library of Congress – and at the time of his writing life it was said that they were always “out” in the libraries of his days.
His life and oeuvre will be commemorated in the Netherlands at his former home, the Maarten Maartens House in Doorn, on September 26. A Symposium will be held where several reputable speakers will remember his works, among others Dr. Hendrik Breuls, who in 2005 received his doctorate at the Technical University of Dresden in Germany, writing his dissertation entitled A Comparative Evaluation of Selected Prose by Maarten Maartens.
The Maarten Maartens House, which he designed himself, still exists and is now owned by a Foundation, The Slotemaker De Bruine Institute, a business training center. Maarten Maartens’ library, which contains his many valuable books collected over his life time, is kept in tact.
The Maarten Maartens House (picture by the Slotemaker de Bruine Institute) is used for functions and meetings. It’s original name, as Maarten Maartens baptized it, was “Zonheuvel” (“Sun hill”)
It is also used for family reunions of the Schwartz family and its many descendants. A picture below is of a family reunion in 1939 or there about. The little boy at the bottom, sitting behind his cousin, with one hand before his eyes, cuddled by two lovely aunts, is me; the three of us on that picture that are the only ones still alive.
Maarten Maartens’ nephew and Dutch painter Michiel Kranendonk ( www.michielkranendonk.nl/)made a wall painting of the house – as it looked like in Maarten Maartens’ days – that hangs in the hall. Part of it is reproduced below:
The Symposium organizers have produced a flyer for the commemoration part of which is shown below.
The aim is to bring Maarten Maartens back to life for a short while. He died with the great satisfaction that his whole oeuvre was reproduced by Constable & Co in London in 1914, an honor few writers befalls. But he also said at that time that he knew quite well that people would not give “a twopence ” if he started writing more. Writers come and go, but at least you can look them up in a library.
To make his writings more accessible, I have summarized his 13 novels in one book, entitled Maarten Maartens Rediscovered – The Most Popular Dutch Author Abroad, using his own writings in the summaries to give a flavor of his style. 19th Century authors used to write longhand, by the petroleum lamp, maybe using a prehistoric typewriter, and their books were often long and sometimes longwinded, which was the style of the day. This meant distilling close to 2 million words to some 164,000 words, while keeping his writing style alive. It got good reviews, fortunately, and is now available on Amazon.com in paperback and hardcover, published by Willow Manor Publishing, Fredericksburg, Virginia (www. willowmanorpublishing.com).
Part II of Maarten Maartens Rediscovered, summarizing his first 1889 self-published novel, an amusing detective-story, reportedly the first of its kind in The Netherlands, and his 4 short story collections, will appear later in 2015.
When we return from the Symposium in Holland, we will produce a full report.
All my best,
SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN – MEMOIR AND ROMANCE
KIRKUS REVIEW; “A WISTFUL MEMOIR…“
AMAZON.COM AND PAPERBACK
ENCHANTING THE SWAN -ROMANCE
KIRKUS REVIEW: “A LIVELY SYMPHONY”
KINDLE AND NOOK, AND IN PAPERBACK
ORDER AT AMAZON: http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o
ORDER AT BARNES & NOBLE: http://bit.ly/1Kw8gys
MAARTEN MAARTENS REDISCOVERED – NON-FICTION: MOST POPULAR DUTCH AUTHOR ABROAD
KIRKUS REVIEW: An…alluring retelling of the works of an obscure author.
Order at Amazon: http://amzn.to/1J51uw7 (paperback and hardcover)