Nature Diary

A goldmine of exquisite prose and a sketchbook of a vanishing world

Like the sketches of Rembrandt or Van Gogh, these tales of young bohemians in Amsterdam evoke the vast panorama of the human condition. Nescio’s small body of writing is matchless in its precision, delicate irony, and clarity. His Nature Diary, never published during his lifetime, is a goldmine of exquisite prose.

Notes on train times and the price of sandwiches alternate with flashes of brilliant description: ‘small yacht with 4 white sails on motionless water, mirror image (!), no separation between water and sky’; ‘lots and lots of little lambs curled up like pussycats’; ‘the poplars across the river, so tall and top-heavy, and slender, no leaves except on top, a curtain of enchanted Egyptian trees, Pharaoh walking among them.’

Some characters come straight out of Nescio’s stories: ‘the train was full of onanists who got out somewhere it wasn’t supposed to stop, 12 to 16 years old, foolish faces, glasses, cigarettes, cardboard suitcases and ill-fitting clothes.’

The diary dates from 1946 to 1955, just as the baby boom and urban renewal were starting to change the Netherlands completely; Nescio captured a landscape that he knew would soon be gone forever.

An indispensable work for understanding Nescio, and more: a poetic geography […] a distillation of the authentic spirit of place.

De Leeswolf


J.H.F. Grönloh (1882-1961), the writer who went by the pseudonym Nescio (Latin for I Don’t Know), as co-director of the Holland-Bombay Trading Company in Amsterdam, was not part of the literary world. When he died, only a few people knew that he had even written a book. For many years Nescio was…

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Natuurdagboek (1996). Non-fiction, 528 pages.

Editor: Lieneke Frerichs

Themes: nature


Nijgh & Van Ditmar

Weteringschans 259
NL - 1017 XJ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 760 72 10

[email protected]

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