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.
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
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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)