Luuc Kooijmans


En de kunst van het overleven in de zeventiende en achttiende eeuw

On human relationships as the art of survival in the seventeenth and eighteenth century

For the Dutch burghers of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, friendship was very different to friendship as we know it today. Life was hard: potentially fatal diseases were never far away, and political and economic setbacks were a constant possibility. In Vriendschap, historian Luuc Kooijmans traces the ups and downs of two families of patricians and regents over the course of two centuries. Even in these elevated circles, friendship was primarily a matter of survival. Friends were of vital importance as a means of coping with the uncertainties of existence.

By drawing on the unique archives of two leading Amsterdam families - historical goldmines rich in letters, diaries and travel journals - Luuc Kooijmans shows that the Huydecopers and the Van der Meulens perceived friendship as a subtle balance of services rendered and received. A thorough knowledge of unwritten rules was essential. The provision of favours was carefully recorded and the families knew exactly when and where they were indebted. Friendship was not a relationship based on mutual sympathy and interests, nor was it a relationship anchored in the private sphere. The paramount criterion in selecting friends was the benefits they could provide, and the foundation of friendship was mutual interest and solidarity.

Friendship in the Golden Age can be seen as a kind of insurance policy. Membership of the elite did not place one beyond the reach of war, epidemic, fire or bankruptcy. Friends helped each other to hold their own and make their way in the world, and the best friends of all were blood relatives. By providing many remarkable quotes from both families’ letters, Luuc Kooijmans reveals his main characters in all their ambition, fury and sorrow, and brings the ‘art of survival’ as practised by these men and women very close.

A beautiful lucid book, which comes to life in its many quotes.

NRC Handelsblad

Kooijmans had a chance to draw on sources whose significance had been almost universally underestimated. He took that chance. Vriendschap is an important book.

de Volkskrant

The book is engrossing and disconcerting, the main characters are constantly on the stage, in unremitting confrontation with the reader.

Vrij Nederland

Luuc Kooijmans

Historian Luuc Kooijmans is the author of Friendship (1997), a highly acclaimed study of the role of friendship in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Dutch society that was short-listed for the prestigious Generale Bank Prize for Literature, as well as Love on Order (2000) and The Artist of Death

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Vriendschap. En de kunst van het overleven in de zeventiende en achttiende eeuw (1997). Non-fiction, 391 pages.
Copies sold: 2,000

With illustrations, notes and references


Bert Bakker

Herengracht 540
NL - 1017 CG Amsterdam
Tel: +31 20 624 18 34
Fax: +31 20 622 54 61

[email protected]

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