Godfried Bomans (1913 - 1971) Dutch author
Godfried Bomans, born March 2, 1913 in The Hague, is arguably Holland's best humorist author. His comic style makes use of irony and hilarious archaism to parody genres like fairytale, melodrama, biography and detective.
Half a year after baby Godfried's birth, the family moved from The Hague to Haarlem. The leftovers of the 19th century were still unmistakably present in the city of Bomans' youth. The atmosphere influenced him in a huge way, but it was also the other way round: by writing and speaking of his Haarlem, Bomans shaped an image of the city that was fitting into his own taste and views. Because of this, Godfried Bomans was and is seen as a true 'Haarlemmer' and he himself would even tell people that he was born there.
His upbringing was harsh and severe, which would have a huge impact on his personality:
"The advantage of a Spartan and senseless upbringing is that in later stages of your life the only way is up, and everything will get more festive. But the disadvantage is enormous. All your life you will stay a little boy that wants to be loved by others".
Young Godfried found comfort in his catholic beliefs, but would keep on searching for similar coziness for the rest of his life. Nevertheless he refused to follow the ideas of the church adherently when they went in against his personal feelings of common sense. In the last years of his life he became a spokesman for the Dutch catholic people by phrasing their problems and putting these in the right perspective.
Aged 20, Bomans wrote a ridiculous stage drama Bloed en Liefde (Blood and Love) which was released in 1937. As soon as the absurd Bomans humor got to the theatre stage in Haarlem, it became an immediate success. It still is popular with amateur theatre societies. As a law student in Amsterdam, he debuted on the literary stage with De memoires of gedenkschriften van Mr. P. Bas, also shortly referred to as Pieter Bas, visibly influenced by Charles Dickens.
Life in the big city turned out to be too icy for Bomans, so he moved to the friendly, catholic city of Nijmegen in 1939. Here he published his most successfull novel Erik of het klein insectenboek (Erik or the little book of insects), which was reprinted ten times in its first year. He returned to Haarlem and published with regular intervals. His books were popular, especially because of his humorist view on postwar society, which put it all into perspective. The sadness of the war was cured by Bomans: "Humor is conquered sorrow", he wrote.
His popularity increased after his first appearances on radio and television, in the beginning as storyteller but later also as interviewer, ghost hunter, test subject and traveller. He loved it and the audience loved him. There was just one problem: Bomans could not say 'no' to anything and was asked continuously to do this or that. A heart attack ended his busy life on December 21, 1971.
Despite his popularity Bomans never won a literary prize with any of his sixty books. Critics passed judgment on his superficiality on one hand and his story characters being too excessive and unreal on the other hand. They would praise his style 'though. Fellow author Simon Carmiggelt once said: "Bomans is a great writer, but you cannot not say that out loud".
An overview of all works by Godfried Bomans: