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Open Access Terug tot de werkelijkheid?

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Back to Reality? Present-day Documentary Trends in Dutch Literature from a Twentieth-Century Literary Historical Perspective

In contemporary Dutch literary production, the ‘world outside’ has gained ground. The genre of literary non-fiction has conquered a less marginal place in the literary field, but (fictional) novels, too, are characterized by a higher prevalence of factual discourse. In this article, I address how a conceptual framework of documentary literature can elucidate the literary innovations in Samaritaan (2011) by A.H.J. Dautzenberg, Duizend heuvels (2012) by Koen Peeters and La Superba (2013) by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer. Before analysing these works, I provide a definition of ‘documentary literature’ and explore how it has been conceptualized in literary studies. In order to foreground the novelty in these current representatives, I will also look at the ways in which the phenomenon has emerged throughout Dutch literature in the 20th century. A rhetorical approach is taken to examine which methods are deemed most convincing to achieve a reality effect in literature by the authors under scrutiny. It appears that present-day novels combine reportage and the interview with an autofictional narrator. As opposed to the documentary anti-literature that was typical of the Nieuwe Zakelijkheid and the sixties, a strong blending of documentary signals and improbable elements informs the reading of these texts. Furthermore, blatant subjectivity and self-reflexivity are used as rhetorical devices to consciously construct a reality that is shown to be relevant on a level that exceeds the merely personal.
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Keywords: autofiction; documentary literature; literary non-fiction; reportage

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Lieselot De Taeye is als FWO-aspirante verbonden aan de Vrije Universiteit Brussel, waar ze onderzoek doet naar de documentaire literatuur van de jaren zestig en zeventig in Nederland en Vlaanderen.

Publication date: January 15, 2015

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  • Het tijdschrift Nederlandse Letterkunde is een wetenschappelijk, peer-reviewed tijdschrift voor de Nederlandstalige letterkunde. Het tijdschrift is een podium voor vakbeoefening in al haar vormen en facetten. De diverse bijdragen beslaan in hun totaliteit het gehele spectrum van Nederlandstalige letterkunde van de Middeleeuwen tot heden. Een jaargang Nederlandse Letterkunde telt drie afleveringen waarvan er steeds één aan een actueel thema gewijd wordt.

    The Dutch-language journal Nederlandse Letterkunde (Dutch Literature) is an academic peer-reviewed journal for Dutch literature. The various contributions cover the entire spectrum of Dutch literature from the Middle Ages to the present. Nederlandse Letterkunde publishes three issues a year of which one is devoted to a contemporary topic.
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