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.
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!
Time for a little advertising in between blogs!
ENCHANTÉ has issued 6 Short stories so far, all represented on the right, under the banner “Some Women I Have Known.” I borrowed this title from my Great Uncle Joost van der Poorten Schwartz (1858-1915), who wrote some 17 books in the English language, mostly in the nineteenth century, and his “Some Women”, though more “Victorian” in concept than the ones I met, is still a good read.
I – The Audrey story is a Memoir of how 13-year old Audrey Hepburn entered my life when I was seven. I had wanted to write this story for a long time and finally did. Her son Sean Hepburn Ferrer found it “sweet” and sweet it is. She had an indelible impact on my life, as I could never have guessed she would become so famous and well liked the world over.
II – The Two Anns memorize first loves, seen from a young male’s adventurous POV (point of view). There are many women I have met and forgotten, but you never forget your first loves. It would have been interesting to know how these first loves remember me and if they ever wrote that on paper.
III – Lucy The Cello Girl got me hooked for life with her bow, phrasing heavenly music from her instrument, when I met her in the basement of my boarding school. A lover of classical music, I fell for her instantly, but young love has its tragic moments of inexperience, immaturity and doubts, and it took many years to come to fruition.
IV – Tisja The Village Beauty is the naughty story about how Peter loses his virginity. I guess nobody forgets that moment in their life. It’s worth remembering and I had a good laugh writing it up.
V – Geneviève The Adorable Pianist pictures the classical Love in Paris. Many loves in Paris populate books and movies, but each one is different and this one is no exception. Even today, soaps return to the Eifel Tower, Trocadero, the river the Seine and the Ile de France. For all its picturesque flavor, Paris remains a pitfall for amour. This one got started while playing quatre mains at the piano at the famous Ecole normale de musique, “mains” that got closer and closer and… well, you read the rest.
VI – Irene Femme Fatale is the eternal refrain of young libido gone haywire and ending in predictable disaster. Women are smarter than man, because they got that superior gift of nature to lure the male into the dangerous act of procreation and… you better watch out.
VII – Lady D is a Memoir of the quintessential grandmother. Some people are greater than others, and she is one of those rare people. Yes, at one stage they pass away and go to heaven, but they live on never to be forgotten, staying at your side throughout life.
Two more stories are in the pipeline: September: Ingrid The Magnificent Viking, about a goddess met on the ski slopes in the Swiss Alps at a moment of great distress that turns into even greater distress; and October: Nyira, The Tutsi Queen, reliving the harrowing memory of a narrow escape from tribal persecution and hatred in the central African region of Rwanda and Burundi.
The short stories are published for Amazon.com by Willow Manor Publishing in Fredericksburg in Virginia, and the cover designs are the product of Melanie Stephens of the same company.
They are available on Amazon.com for Kindle reading at the ridiculous price of 99 dollar cents or there about depending where you are. Get them for an easy read during Labor Day Weekend! If you do, give a review, if you can, by clicking on the story’s review link on Amazon.com. It’s simple and won’t cost you more than a few minutes of your time.
Lastly, my romantic novel “Enchanting The Swan” is in the final stage and may be published in the not too distant future.
Why I am writing?
To join a masterful Great-Uncle, Joseph M.W. van der Poorten-Schwartz (1858-1915), a Dutchman who wrote bestsellers in the English language one hundred years ago, most of them under the pseudonym “Maarten Maartens.”
His 20 odd books are all stored in the Library of Congress (see picture below) and were widely read in the USA, England and Germany.
Even though born in Amsterdam, Joseph wrote in English because he spent his early youth in London where his father, Carl August Ferdinand Schwartz – my great-grandfather – was appointed reverend of the Free Church of Scotland. English became Joseph’s second language.
Maarten Maartens’s novels were popular in the USA and England because they dealt with “the psychological and moral questions of conscience…as at the time there was a growing tendency to devote attention to the psychological problem play and novel” (quoted from Hendrik Breuls in his Doctoral Thesis “Author in Double Exile, The Literary Appreciation of Maarten Maartens” – 1985, later completed as his 2005 Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Dresden, Germany, entitled “A comparative Evaluation of Selected Prose by Maarten Maartens”). Maarten Maartens is especially known for his sharp characterizations and caricatures of certain professions.
Hendrik Breuls starts his 1985 thesis with one of many worthy Maarten Maartens quotes, which are as good a perception of the needed writing skill as we find in today’s essays on good writing: “If you want to be heard by your own generation” (and that is his, one hundred years ago) “never say in three words what you can say in six, and if you want to be listened to by all future generations, never say in six words what you can say in three.”
Uncle Joe made tons of money from his books and built a huge mansion for himself, his wife and one daughter in a wooded area near Utrecht, not far from Amsterdam, baptized “De Zonheuvel” (The Sunny Hill). A nephew of mine, Michiel Kranendonk, a currently renowned Dutch painter in Holland whose mother is Marie Kranendonk-Schwartz, created a mural painting of the “Maarten Maartens House” in the hall (see partial picture below). At the back of the house featured a meticulously maintained “French Garden” with remembrances of the Chateau “Versailles”. The house is currently a Foundation and occupied by the Institute “Slotemaker de Bruine Institute” (SBI).
In 2015, Maarten Maartens’ one hundred year anniversary will be remembered to revive interest in the works of this forgotten prolific author.
More on this – and on painter Michiel Kranendonk – in a future Blog.