High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands


High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands

‘I like Being Naughty!'. The Work of Annie M.G. Schmidt
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‘I like Being Naughty!'. The Work of Annie M.G. Schmidt

(Henk van Gelder) The Low Countries - 1994, № 2, pp. 18-24

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The writer Annie M.G. Schmidt is often affectionately called the Grandmother of the Netherlands; or, if it doesn't sound too solemn, the Mother of the Fatherland. She owes this title to a combination of talents which it would be hard to find anywhere else. Children's literature has Astrid Lindgren and Roald Dahl, comedy has Alan Ayckbourn and Neil Simon. We have Kurt Tucholsky's satirical poems and Lewis Carroil's light verse, and all the witty lyrics of Noel Coward and Cole Porter. But Annie Schmidt excels in all these fields and she has been writing so much for so long that three generations of Dutch men and women have grown up with her work. You won't find anyone in the Netherlands who doesn't know at least a few lines of hers by heart. But while almost all the Netherlands adored her work, the literary world largely ignored it because it was merely 'entertainment'. However, once Annie Schmidt was unmistakably a part of Dutch cultural history her work could no longer be ignored. She had become a grandmother; bot not the sweet, unthreatening little granny familiar to us from so many films and children' s books. Long before it became fashionable, Annie Schmidt was making a stand in her children' s stories against bossy mothers and authority-figures who thought only of their own positions of power. (with three translated poems by Annie M.G. Schmidt)

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