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Rudy Kousbroek

Kousbroek, H.R.

Rudy Kousbroek, born in Pematang Siantar, Indonesia, in 1929. Ph.D. h.c. from the University of Groningen. Author of more than 30 books, mostly essays on the history of ideas, also some poetry and fiction. Awarded Netherlands State Prize for literature, 1975. Formerly on the staff of NRC Handelsblad, now retired and freelance contributor.  († 2010)

Writer-in-Residence (1 September 2003 – 31 January 2004)


I have but a meager result to show for these five unforgettable months. At the beginning of my time at NIAS I indicated that I intended to finish “some projects which have been in abeyance for years, mostly because of the demands of journalistic work”. These projects were “Early Science Fiction” and “Two Literary Friendships”. The first of these entailed the completion of a research project entitled “Early science fiction in the work of the French writers Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) and Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918).” A Dutch version of this paper was presented as a lecture at the Symposium on Modernism at Leiden University on 17 October 2003. This text will eventually be published in a volume of my essays on French literature by Uitgeverij Augustus. Another project which I had hoped to complete during my stay at the NIAS was sorting, reading, indexing and annotating some 300 personal letters written to me between 1979 and 1989 by the novelist Gerard van het Reve, a task which I had been hoping to find time for several years. However this enterprise proved extremely time-consuming, with in the last resort little to show for it, mainly because the annotations I made refer to letters which are under copyright.

It had also been my intention to order and annotate some personal letters from another Dutch novelist, Willem Frederik Hermans (1921-1995), but I had barely got under way with these when my period at the NIAS came to an end. For my stay at NIAS I had one more project which I have not yet mentioned, writing a new chapter to the new edition of one of my books (Oost Indisch Kampsyndroom). I have been working on it off and on and this new chapter has by now almost grown into a new book.