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Document Details :
Title: Efemeriden, seniliteiten, republiekjes der letteren
Subtitle: De geheime fantasieën over literaire genootschappen op een rijtje
Author(s): DE VRIES, Marleen
Journal: Spiegel der Letteren
Volume: 46 Issue: 3-4 Date: 2004
For centuries, Dutch eighteenth-century literary societies have suffered a bad reputation. Literary scholars loved to accuse the societies of having spoiled eighteenth-century literature, a literature that they hated in general. To maintain this negative view, many fantasies about the societies have been spread around. Recent research allows us to replace these fantasies by more realistic images. The success of the societies cannot be explained without pointing to the ideals of civilization expressed by their members, who wanted to contribute to the contemporary cultural and political debates. Profiting from the ambiguity of literature, the societies turned slowly into opinion making, sometimes even semi-political institutes, and favoured the rise of political critique. In a sense each society can be seen as a small Republic of Letters, where, by means of literature, ideals of freedom and democracy were treasured.