120 years ago, Jan Jacob Slauerhoff (1898 - 1936), one of the most important Dutch poets and writers of the twentieth century, was born in Leeuwarden - now the European Capital of Culture. He traveled around the world as a ship’s doctor; exotic themes often return in his poems, stories and novels. On the occasion of his 120th birthday, an exhibition has been dedicated to Slauerhoff in the Airport Library at Schiphol, the most international place in the Netherlands.
As a romanticist - always longing for somewhere else - Slauerhoff occupies a unique place in Dutch literature. After studying medicine he sailed as a ship’s doctor to the Far East and later also to South America. He debuted in 1923 with the collection of poems Archipel, in which almost all elements from his later work are already present. His fascination for China was reflected in many poems (including in Eldorado, Saturnus and Serenade) and in the novel The Forbidden Kingdom. His weak constitution was the cause of his broken work contracts. In this way he suffered a wandering experience. ‘My poems are my only habitation,/ No other shelter could I ever find’, read the first lines of one of his most famous poems (‘Woninglooze’ “Homeless’), which can be regarded as programmatic for his life and work.
Poetry and prose of Slauerhoff has now been translated into 25 languages. A great many of these translations can be viewed in the Airport Library until November 10th 2018.
The exhibition ties in with the theme ‘revolt’ of the Dutch Month of History (October). For example, his novel The Guadalajara Uprising can be seen in several languages at the exhibition. In addition, a digital exhibition has been set up on the theme of revolt in Dutch literature.
Within the framework of Leeuwarden Cultural Capital, this month (October 2018) Slauerhoff´s poem ‘In Memoriam Patris’ was also published in a special anniversary edition in ten languages.
The Dutch Foundation for Literature, partner of the Airport Library, has compiled the exhibition about Slauerhoff and has made translations available for visitors to the Airport Library.