Frederik van Eeden

Frederik van Eeden (1860-1932) was one of the best-known psychiatrists in the Netherlands around the turn of the century. During his years of study in Amsterdam he developed an aversion to the one-sided emphasis on the natural sciences in his field and in 1885, the year that he took his finals in medicine, he published the symbolic fairytale De kleine Johannes. Then while doing research in Paris on tuberculosis patients for his dissertation, he became intrigued by Professor Charcot’s lectures on hysteria and hypnosis, and he was drawn to psychotherapy, then gaining ground internationally. In 1893 he set himself up as a psychiatrist in Bussum. He became increasingly idealist and pacifist and helped establish several cooperative communities of which Walden was the best known.

The Deeps of Deliverance

The Deeps of Deliverance

(Athenaeum-Polak & Van Gennep, 1900, 300 pages)

Although Frederik van Eeden wrote poetry, plays, scientific studies and essays on literature and painting, he is chiefly remembered as a novelist. Among his voluminous epic work it is specifically Van de koelen meren des doods (‘The Deeps of Deliverance’) on which his reputation rests. He himself considered it a synthesis of all his main themes, and stated that the work described: ‘the simple, classical movements of a woman’s life, tested to the utmost by melancholy, sin, sensuality, and yet with the triumph of death over death.’

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