Herman Pleij, born in 1943 in Hilversum, The Netherlands.
Studied Dutch Language and Literature at the University of Amsterdam. Took his doctorís degree in 1979 on Het Gilde van de Blauwe Schuit. Literatuur, volksfeest en burgermoraal in de late middeleeuwen (The Guild of the Blue Boat. Literature, popular feasts and bourgeois-morals in the late Middle Ages), reprinted in 1983. The book especially deals with carnivaltexts and the meaning of the temporary establishment of a topsy-turvy world.
Since 1981 full professor in Medieval Dutch Literature at the University of Amsterdam. From 1990 to 1992 Dean of the Faculty of Arts. In 1993 awarded by the Belgian government with a guest-chair in Antwerp, and in 2000 by the Catholic University of Brussels (KUB) with a honorary doctorate.
Particularly interested in popular literature and culture, the rethoricians, the meaning of the early printing press, the development of bourgeois-ideals and of Dutch cultural identity in general. Made in the early nineties a series for Dutch television, Sprekend over de middeleeuwen (Speaking about the Middle Ages), which was also published as a book. Publishes also in journals and weeklies about cultural subjects in general. Wrote in 1994 a novel, Zandgrond (Sandy Soil), about a grandson wrestling with the diary of his grandfather from the First World War in Belgium.
His essays on the Dutch lack of interest for their own history and culture were collected in Het Nederlandse onbehagen (The Dutch Discomfort) (1991), Hollands welbehagen (Hollandís Well-Being) (1998) and Tegen de barbarij (Against Barbarism) (1999), all reprinted. Some other major publications are: De sneeuwpoppen van 1511. Literatuur en stadscultuur tussen Middeleeuwen en moderne tijd (The Snow-Men of 1511. Literature and urban culture between Middle Ages and modern Time) (1988, reprinted 1998), Nederlandse literatuur van de late Middeleeuwen (Dutch Literature of the late Middle Ages) (1990) and Dromen van Cocagne. Middeleeuwse fantasieŽn over het volmaakte leven (Dreaming of Cockaigne. Medieval fantasies of perfect life) (1997), several times reprinted; translations in English and German were published in 2001. In 2002 appeared Van karmijn, purper en blauw; over kleuren van de Middeleeuwen en daarna (Of carmine, purple and blue; about colours of the Middle Ages and after); a translation in English will be published in 2003.
At the moment he is
working on a study of the great 16th-century Antwerp poet Anna Bijns,
on volume II of a new history of Dutch Literature in seven volumes, on a book
about literary and cultural life in Amsterdam before the Golden Age, and on a
novel about William, prince of Orange.
Address: Spuistraat 134, room 433, NL - 1012 VB Amsterdam, +31 (0)20-5254728, fax