1902 Encyclopedia > Drama > Dutch Drama

(Part 15)

Dutch Drama

With this summary of the history of the German drama it is necessary to close this survey. To be even nominally complete, it would have had to take into account the fortunes of more than one other modern European drama. Among these the DUTCH is interesting both in its beginnings, which, resemble those of the German—the influence of the I so-called chambers of the rederyhers (rhetoricians), from the early years of the 15th century onwards, resembling that of the master-singers of contemporary Germany. The earliest of their efforts, which so effectively tempered the despotism of both church and state, seem to have been of a dramatic kind ; and a manifold variety of allegories, moralities, and comic entertainments (esbatementen or comedies, hiuiten and factien or farces) enhanced the attractions of those popular pageants in which the Nether-lands surpassed all other countries of the North. The art of acting nourished in the Low Countries even during the troubles of the great revolt ; but the birth of the regular drama was delayed till the advent of quieter times. Dutch dramatic literature begins, under the influence of the classical studies cherished in the seats of learning founded before and after the close of the war, with the classical tragedies of S. Koster (c. 1585-c. 1650). The romantic dramas and farces of Gerbrand Bredero and the tragedies of Hooft belong to the same period ; but its foremost dramatic poet was J. van den Vondel (1587-1659), who from an imitation of classical models passed to more original forms of dramatic composition, including a patriotic play1 and a dramatic treatment of part of what was to form the theme of Paradise Lost. But Vondel had no successor of equal mark. The older form of Dutch tragedy—in which the chorus still appeared—was, especially under the influence of the critic A. Pels, exchanged for a close imitation of the French models, Comeille and Racine ; nor was the attempt to create a national comedy successful. Thus no national Dutch drama was permanently called into life.

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