Observatory on Dante Studies

before ODS

From the nineteenth century, just as in the U.S., Italy and other European countries, also in the Netherlands studies around Dante’s work were tried to be pursued in a more organized way.

The first attempt of some significance was carried out in 1876 with the founding of the journal “De Wachter” (The Guardian) on the initiative of Joan Bohl, who also translated the Comedy into tercets (1876-1883). Later it became “Onze Wachter” (Our Guardian) and then took on the subtitle “Nederlandsch Dante-orgaan” (Dutch Periodical on Dante).
The journal contributed significantly both to the popularization of Dante’s poetry in tje Netherlands and, by implication, to the emancipation of Dutch Catholics. It ceased its publication in 1885.

In 1921, on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the death, Alexander Willem Byvanck and Willem Alexander van Leer edited the memorial volume Dante Alighieri 1321-1921. Omaggio dell’Olanda (Homage of Holland), which includes a series of articles, written by living authors unite to present “to tell us the comfort and inspiration they drew from his divine words and how by his works they felt uplifted and strengthened” (see here). Prominent among the contributions is the one by Johan Huizinga, Quale concetto aveva Erasmo di Dante? (What concept did Erasmus have of Dante?, pp. 11-18).
In the same year, the literary magazine “De Gids” presented a Dante issue (lxxxviii) in which we find Huizinga again with the essay The Figure of Death in Dante (De figuur van den Dood bij Dante, pp. 419-463) and the re-presentation in the original language of the previously mentioned essay (Welke voorstelling heeft Erasmus omtrent Dante gehad?, pp. 464-472).

In 1963, at a meeting held in Utrecht, it was decided to found the Dutch Dante Society (Nederlands Dante-Gezelschap) which was joined by a dozen scholars. J.H. Terlingen, professor at the University of Nijmegen, was elected president.
For the 1965 anniversary,the Society promoted the publication of a collection of texts entitled Miscellanea dantesca, and fostered activities in various cultural centres. The activity was discontinued when Terlingen died in 1965.