Literary Celebrity and the Discourse on Authorship in Dutch Literature

Gaston Franssen


Literary celebrity results from a clash between two discursive configurations: literary authorship and popular celebrity. In order to gain an understanding of the contradictions that lie at the heart of literary celebrity, the authorial subjectivity of two Dutch authors are analyzed: Menno ter Braak (1902-1940) and Jan Cremer (1940-). Ter Braak will be shown to personify a classic, high modernist notion of authorship, which entails a resistance to commodification, a critique of personality cult, and a privileging of originality. Cremer, on the other hand, constructs his authorial subjectivity by embracing commerciality, posing as an overtly public individual, and preferring repetition over originality. Yet literary celebrity cannot be understood as a simple inversion of the hierarchical oppositions that characterize the discourse on literary authorship: by analyzing Cremer’s work and reception, I demonstrate that literary celebrity entails a ‘staging’ of high modernist authorship.


Authorship; High Modernism; Mass Culture; Celebrity; Reception

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