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De Kleine Johannes by Frederik Van Eeden
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De Kleine Johannes (original 1884; edition 1977)

by Frederik Van Eeden

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3051055,276 (3.48)11
Member:mirmir
Title:De Kleine Johannes
Authors:Frederik Van Eeden
Info:Manteau (1977), Paperback, 151 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:children's, dutch literature, read, children's literature

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The Quest by Frederik van Eeden (1884)

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» See also 11 mentions

English (7)  Dutch (3)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Years ago i only read a few pages, the pace was to slow for me that moment. The content and ideas* should grip me although, maybe i 'll give it another try some time. * see the reviews ( )
  EMS_24 | Oct 20, 2016 |
Johannes is a sensitive Dutch boy who stumbles into an adventure that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. In this coming of age tale, he sees fairies, goblins, and even death who all help teach him about what it means to be a good person. Eventually he meets Markus, and although we never learn much about him, he is very similar to Jesus.

I found this novel enchanting and enigmatical. This isn’t a book you can read quickly because it requires a lot of thought. It was obvious that van Eeden was making a statement about Christianity, but it took me most of the novel to figure out whether he was for it or against it. I did enjoy the story, but I wish it had been a little more concrete and easier to understand. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
Van Eeden (1860-1932) was a prominent Dutch psychiatrist and author. An admirer of Thoreau, he had extensive professional contacts with the likes of Sigmund Freud and Herman Hesse. All of these influences are in evidence in this novel of the coming of age of De Kleine Johannes. Johannes is an everyman who struggles to find meaning in a world where it is far too obvious to him from an early age that injustice and struggle abound.
Johannes’s first adventures are magical garden excursions with his elvish friend Windekind who appears originally in the form of a dragonfly. Windekind shrinks Johannes down to his own size and together they explore the glories of nature, plunging down rabbit holes, romping in flowery meadows, and even discussing aggression v. pacifism with the ironically self-named “peace ants.” Gradually the boy encounters darker spirits including Death himself (not a bad fellow as it turns out) and eventually the devil. He leaves home under the influence of these spirits and falls in with a succession of humans who personify various philosophies.
The most profound influence on Johannes is a Christ-like character named Marcus who mentors the child when he is around but comes and goes from the narrative rather abruptly at times as Johannes is left to discover more about life on his own. Marcus reappears with regularity to debunk the most dearly held beliefs of whichever group is in ascendency at the time. Naturally, speaking truth to power usually gets Marcus, and sometimes by association Johannes, shunned, arrested, incarcerated, or even beaten nearly to death. In this fashion van Eeden takes on mainline Protestantism, spiritualism, Buddhism, Catholicism, international socialism, and finally the Dutch monarchy.
Some of the most beautiful imagery occurs in the earliest passages as Johannes and Windekind are exploring the glories of nature. Van Eeden’s father was a prominent botanist and that certainly shows in the wonderful details he brings to the microcosms explored by the shrunken protagonist. One of the creepiest sections on the other hand has a tiny Johannes following an earthworm, an earwig, and the darker spirit Pluizer through a series of decaying coffins complete with decomposing corpses in a sequence reminiscent of Scrooge’s adventure with the ghost of Christmas future.
While this is not a novel that I would have picked up for myself for pleasure as I generally have a low tolerance for spirituality and philosophy, I am glad that I read it. Though there was a bit of a disconnect though between van Eeden’s obviously lofty ideals for a glorious harmonious future human society and the rather disparaging way that he speaks of the great masses of the working poor. I also wondered at one point whether he was going to visit Judaism but after one small snippet of vitriolic anti-Semitism in another section I ended up relieved that we didn’t go there.
( )
  KateVz | Jan 13, 2016 |
Frederik van Eeden wanted to write a new Evangelarium of Johannes in which he shows the way to combine love of nature and people; socialism and christianity. ( )
  Dettingmeijer | Jun 13, 2013 |
Beautiful, and very impressive... Started reading it because I'm currently reading Walden and van Eeden was a follower of Thoreau's ideas. The story certainly expresses a love of nature and is a philosophical work, besides being a fairy-tale about a young boy.
I found it very gripping, more so than I had expected. It really makes you think about how we live and how the world works.
The ending is beautiful and touching. ( )
  Britt84 | Jun 4, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frederik van Eedenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Veth, JanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Ik zal u iets van de kleine Johannes vertellen. Het heeft veel weg van een sprookje, mijn verhaal, maar het is toch alles werkelijk zo gebeurd. Zodra gij het niet meer gelooft, moet ge niet meer verder lezen, want dan schrijf ik niet voor u.'
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Nog altijd de grootste mijlpaal in de geschiedenis van de Nederlandse letterkunde is het jaar 1885, met de oprichting van het tijdschrift De nieuwe Gids. Het eerste nummer opende met de eerste aflevering van iets, wat op het eerste gezicht een sprookje voor kinderen leek. En niet alleen op het eerste gezicht: de laatste aflevering van dat sprookje besluit met de woorden: 'Wellicht vertel ik u eenmaal meer van de kleine Johannes, doch op een sprookje zal het dan niet meer gelijken.' Toch was dat sprookje op zijn plaats als boegbeeld van de Beweging van Tachtig: het is nog steeds een van de klassieke teksten, niet alleen van die beweging, maar van de Nederlandse letterkunde als geheel. (Frederik van Eeden hééft meer van de kleine Johannes verteld: er bestaan zelfs twee alternatieve voortzettingen, waarvan de ene Johannes Vïator heet, de andere eenvoudig De kleine Johannes 2 en 3. De verschillende voortzettingen hebben een ding gemeen: dat ze Van Eeden niet van zijn beste kant tonen. Ze zijn, om het maar platweg te zeggen, halfzacht. Ze missen door een teveel aan goede wil alles wat dit boek zo uniek maakt: het reële en het speelse, en daardoor, bij gemis aan contrast, ook het fantastische, en zelfs de ernst. Ze zijn, kortom, door een overvloed aan ernst niet ernstig te nemen, terwijl 'deel 1' rnet zijn lichtere toets niet alleen fris en nieuw gebleven is, maar ook nog werkelijk iets toedoet aan het gemoed van iedereen die het leest.)
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