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Cooperations between Dutch Critics and Publishers during the Interbellum Period

The promotional activities of publishers and the different practices of literary critics became closely intertwined in the Netherlands during the first half of the twentieth century. In this article, we focus on how these two types of actors worked together and responded to new possibilities on the changing book market. We are particularly interested in what critics experienced as limitations or possible threats to their independent statuses and their positions in the field. These may have been most pressing for critics who had contacts with many different media and organizations. Such a central position within a literary network seems to be a characteristic of the so-called ‘middlebrow’ critic. Middlebrow critics were actively concerned with the social functions of literature and emphasized the need for cultural mediation. Our analysis of the behaviour and position-takings of three critics, Herman Robbers, Roel Houwink and P.H. Ritter Jr., shows that in their relationships with publishers, they operated within a grey area between commercialism and idealism, in which the (traditional) boundaries of ‘independent’ and professional criticism were at the same time consolidated, stretched and negotiated.
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Keywords: cultural mediation; literary criticism; middlebrow; publishing strategies

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Meriel Benjamins is promovenda aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen. Ze werkt aan een onderzoek naar cultureel ondernemerschap in het interbellum., Email: [email protected] 2: Ryanne Keltjens is promovenda aan de Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, waar zij onderzoek doet naar middlebrow-kritiek in het interbellum., Email: [email protected] 3: Alex Rutten is docent-promovendus letterkunde aan de Open Universiteit. Hij werkt aan een biografische studie naar de loopbaan van dr. P.H. Ritter Jr. en cultuurbemiddeling in nieuwe media en instituties tijdens het interbellum., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: September 1, 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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