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Abstract Suzan van Dijk

Foreign women’s writing imported into small countries: the case of the Netherlands

The project which we are working on, as well as the context and inspiration of this Symposium, has its origin in the Netherlands. When we started working on the international reception of women’s writing, it mainly concerned the Netherlands and France: a small country and a larger one.

Having started in the Netherlands, there is also a quite important quantity of information for our project about foreign women’s literature being received in the Netherlands. To a small degree, this has been exploited and some provisional conclusions have been published.

Here, on the occasion of this Symposium dedicated to studying the contacts between smaller and larger countries in relation to women’s writing, I want to sketch some comparisons between the ways in which foreign women authors have been received in the Netherlands during the 18th and 19th centuries – taking into account the ways, different or not, in which men and women reacted to these imported texts (translated or not).

In this way I continue my earlier research where I suggested that male 18th-century literary critics seemed to be more open to foreign female authors than to compatriots who published their writings. For the 19th century they may well have shown a completely different attitude. This presentation will try not to enter into details concerning specific authors, but to provide a starting point for a comparison of whether the apparent “evolution” in the attitude of the Dutch readers is comparable to those of other countries. Is it possible to also make comparisons to those countries whose literatures begin in the 19th century?

AsK, October 2012

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