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.
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.
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.