Outwardly, Hedwig is a typical girl growing up in a well-to-do family in a sleepy provincial town. Inwardly, she feels things very deeply and has a strong sense of self, which means at times she can, all of a sudden, feel very depressed. She is aware of her awakening sexuality and has many questions about how to relate to boys. At first her mother provides a steadying influence in her life, but when her beloved mama dies it changes the family dynamics fundamentally. We follow Hedwig as she grows up and observe her repeated clashes with the unsympathetic housekeeper. She finds a soul mate in Johan, a boy she meets on the family's country estate, and they become great friends. When he falls in love with her she does not know how to handle it. She is embarrassed and her family looks down on Johan, a poor working class boy. In an attempt to escape her own feelings, she rushes into marriage with Gerard, a respectable solicitor's son who is 'one of us'. With him there is no need to fear sinful sexual feelings as he is totally uninterested in this aspect of marriage. Gerard brings her the stability she needs but at too great a cost and Hedwig descends into a deep depression. Fatally, Hedwig is sent to the seaside alone. Here she meets Ritsaart, a professional musician, who gives her the love she craves but none of the stability she needs. They travel abroad and a whole new world opens up to Hedwig. Still, she remains the same person. In spite of their great love affair, Ritsaart too, is unable to prevent depression taking possession of Hedwig again. Hedwig stops fighting her demons and flees to London. Totally unequipped to face living in the metropolis alone she is taken advantage of and ends up penniless in Paris.
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Frederik van Eeden, (1860 - 1932) born in Haarlem in The Netherlands, was a man of many interests and talents. He was a novelist, dramatist, poet and critic, who also studied medicine, completed a PhD on the artificial nutrition of tuberculosis patients and became later interested in psychiatry. If this was not enough, he was also interested in reforming society and was a pacifist. He used this background beautifully in Hedwig's Journey, published as Van de koele meren des doods in 1900. However, at the request of the author, we should not consider this work a psychological study. It is a brilliant literary novel which gives us a thoroughly interesting portrait of a young woman that still rings true today. As a writer van Eeden belonged to the group known as the Tachtigers and was one of the founding members of the literary-political journal De Nieuwe Gids. His literary work was influenced by several philosophical and religious movements including Boehme's mysticism and the Hindu concept of self. Interestingly in the light of the outcome of Hedwig's Journey, van Eeden became a Roman Catholic in 1922.
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Book Description Holland Park Press, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: Good. we ship books from UK within 1 working day. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000519755