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JOOST VAN DEN VONDEL (1587—1679)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 210 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOOST VAN DEN VONDEL (1587—1679), Dutch poet, was born at Cologne on the 17th of November 1587. His father, a hatter, was an exile from Antwerp on account of his Ana-baptist opinions; but he returned to Holland when Joost was about ten years old, and settled in Amsterdam, where he carried on a hosiery business. Joost was the eldest son, and was expected to succeed to his father's shop. He was early introduced to the chamber of the Eglantine, however, and devoted most of his time to poetry and study. When the elder Vondel died he married Maria de Wolff, and seems to have left the management of his affairs in her capable hands. He read the French contemporary poets, and was especially influenced by the Divine Sepmaine of Du Bartas; he made some translations from the German; he was soon introduced to the circle gathered in the house of Roemer Visscher, and with these friends began to make a close study of classical writers. His first play, Het Pascha, was printed in 1612, and proved to be the beginning of a long and brilliant literary career (see DUTCH LITERATURE). After the production of his political drama of Palamedes, or Murdered Innocence (1625), which expressed his indignation at the judicial murder of Oldenbarneveldt in 1619, Vondel had to go into hiding, but the Amsterdam magistrates eventually satisfied themselves with exacting a small fine. In the following years he issued a number of stinging satires against the extreme Calvinists, and he entered into close relationshipwith Hugo Grotius, another sufferer for his liberal opinions. Vondel had long been attracted by the aesthetic side of the Roman Catholic Church, and this inclination was perhaps strengthened by his friendship with Marie Tesselschade Visscher, for the Visscher household had been Catholic and liberal. Tesselschade's husband died in 1634; Vondel's wife died in 1635; and the ties between the two were strengthened by time. Vondel eventually showed his revolt against the Calvinist tyranny by formally embracing the Roman Catholic faith in 1640. The step was ill-received by many of his friends, and Hooft forbade him the hospitality of his castle at Muiden. In 1657 his only surviving son, who was entrusted with the hosiery business, mismanaged affairs to such an extent that he had to take ship for the East Indies, leaving his father to face the creditors. Vondel had to sacrifice the whole of his small fortune, and became a government clerk. He was pensioned after ten years' service, and died on the 5th of February 1679. The more important of his thirty-two dramas are: Hierusalem Verwoest (" Jerusalem laid desolate ") (162o); Palamedes, of Vermoorde onnooselheyd (" Palamedes, or Murdered Innocence ") (1625); Gijsfreght van Aemstel (1637); De Gebroeders (1640), the subject of which is the ruin of the sons of Saul; Joseph in Egypten (1640), Maria Stuart, of gemartelde majesteit (1646); the pastoral of De Leeuwendalers (1648) ; Lucifer (1654) ; Salmoneus (Solomon) (1657) Jephtha `(1659); Koning David in ballingschap (" King David in banishment "), Koning David hersteld (" King David restored ") and Samson (1660); Batavische Gebroeders, the subject of which is the story of Claudius Civilis (1663); Adam in ballingschap (" Adam in exile ") (1664), after the Latin tragedy of Hugo Grotius. He also wrote translations from the tragedies of Seneca, Euripides and Sophocles; didactic poems, and much lyrical poetry beside what is to be found in the choruses of his dramas. His complete works were edited by van Lennep (12 vols., 1850—1869). A bibliography (1888) was published by J. H. W. Unger, who revised van Lennep's edition in 1888—94. Lucifer was translated into English verse by L. C. van Noppen (New York, 1898). See also E. Gosse, Studies in Northern Literature (1879); G. Edmundson, Milton and Vondel (1885), where Milton's supposed indebtedness to Vondel is discussed; and critical studies by A. Baumgartner, S. J. (Freiburg, 1882); C. Looten (Lille, 1889), by J. A. Alberdingk Thijm (Portretten van Joost van den Vondel, 1876); and especially the chapters on Vondel (pp. 133—325) in W. J. A. Jonckbloet's Geschiedenis der nederlandsche letterkunde (vol. iv. 1890).
End of Article: JOOST VAN DEN VONDEL (1587—1679)
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