The Pure Language of the Heart

Sentimentalism in the Netherlands 1775-1800


This is the first book-length study of Sentimentalism in the Netherlands. Taking for its starting point the polemic between Rhijnvis Feith, the champion of the Dutch Sentimental vogue, and his chief opponent Willem Emmery de Perponcher (a polemic that lasted from 1786 to 1789), the author places the Dutch debate over Sentimentalism in a wider socio-cultural context. The Dutch had their own version of Sentimentalism. Its specific nature, and the themes that were touched upon in the debate which it evoked, are here described and analysed against the European background of English Sensibility and German Empfindsamkeit. The Pure Language of the Heart also discusses authors such as Elisabeth Maria Post and Jacob Eduard de Witte. It traces the vocabulary of eighteenth-century Dutch sentimental discourse, and contains an extensive bibliography of contemporary material relating to the Sentimental.

Table of contents

Introduction. 1. Sentimentalism: terms, aims and methods. 2. The debates over Sentimentalism in England and Germany. 3. Poison or antidote: Perponcher and Feith on the Sentimental of our time. 4. The Dutch debate. 5. Conclusions. Appendix A: Sentimenteel in Dutch dictionaries 1760-1850. Appendix B: A glossary of Dutch sentimental discourse. Primary bibliography (before 1850). Secondary bibliography. Index.