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Quality Sells

International Bestsellers in the Dutch Literary Field around 1936
Ryanne Keltjens

Résumé

With the emergence of an international bestseller culture in the first half of the twentieth century, foreign literary works were of increasing importance in domestic conceptions of cultural hierarchies. This was in particular the case in peripheral literary systems, which largely depended on translations of foreign novels to meet the growing demands for literary works in this period. Using the international bestsellers Gone with the Wind (1936) by the American author Margaret Mitchell and Katrina (1936) by the Finnish author Sally Salminen as case studies, this article aims to investigate how such works were adapted, marketed and evaluated in the peripheral Dutch literary field of the late thirties. Analyzing publishers’ production and marketing strategies on the one hand and the evaluating practices of literary reviewers on the other, an overview is presented of the ways in which different aspects of this upcoming international bestseller culture influenced the Dutch literary field, focusing in particular on the incorporation of these international bestsellers into local debates. The concept of middlebrow is used within the framework of Bourdieu’s field theory to study mechanisms of cultural distinction and the attribution of symbolic capital to these foreign works in the context of a national literary field.

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Introduction

  • i Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, Convergences (Cambridge, MA etc.: Harvard Universi (...)
  • ii Cf. Timothy W. Galow, Writing Celebrity. Stein, Fitzgerald, and the Modern(ist) Art of Self-Fashion (...)
  • iii Cf. Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, 170; Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell and Richard Barksdale (...)

1Although middlebrow literary culture is often associated with the domestic and the national, it can at the same time be related to developments on the international book market. During the first half of the twentieth century the increasing global circulation of literary works and the growing influence of international commerce on the publishing industry contributed to the emergence of an international bestseller culture. Following Pascale Casanova’s analysis of the literary world from internationalism to globalization, I conceive of this international bestseller culture as a new stage in the gradual development towards the globalized book market as we know it today, which can be characterized by new organization models for the production and promotion of literature within international mass-media businesses, and a focus on immediate profitability.i Typical of this specific stage are an increased production speed, a closer entanglement of literature with other (mass) media and a growing importance of marketing strategies. In the international bestseller culture of the thirties, translations of promising works were published immediately after the original and a movie adaptation was prepared right away. Extensive marketing strategies were set up to draw the attention of the audience to the work at hand, often drawing on the evolving celebrity culture of the period.ii The most obvious example of such an international bestseller may well be Gone with the Wind (1936) by Margaret Mitchell, which was published in about forty countries, was turned into an extremely successful motion picture in 1939 and had reached total sales of over 28 million copies worldwide in 1987.iii

  • iv Clive Bloom, Bestsellers. Popular Fiction since 1900 (Basingstoke etc.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), (...)
  • v Bloom, Bestsellers, 30–32; Altick, The English Common Reader, 141–187; Cf. Mary Hammond, Reading, P (...)
  • vi Stefan Collini, ‘Chapter 5: Highbrows and Other Aliens’, in Absent Minds. Intellectuals in Britain (...)

2The emergence of this international bestseller culture can be explained by a complex constellation of social, cultural and technological developments, including cheaper printing processes and optimized distribution possibilities.iv A crucial factor was the growing demand for literary works, a side-effect of improved education, which increased literacy and made literature and culture accessible for broader groups.v As cultural participation increased, cultural distinction became more important. Both the traditional cultural elite and new intermediaries (publishers, critics) who tried to serve these new reader groups increasingly felt the need to distinguish themselves, promoting and defending their ideas about literary quality and taste.vi

  • vii Pioneering works in middlebrow studies include: Joan Shelley Rubin, The Making of Middlebrow Cultur (...)
  • viii Ardis, Modernism and Cultural Conflict, 116.
  • ix About the relation of middlebrow to Bourdieu’s conception of the literary field, see: Beth Driscoll (...)
  • x Cf. Mathijs Sanders and Alex Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Neth (...)

3As previous research has shown, such distinction mechanisms in the interwar years can be fruitfully studied from a tripartite perspective, introducing the concept of middlebrow.vii This approach implies an adjustment to Bourdieu’s conception of the field as determined by the two poles of restricted and large-scale production, carving out a ‘distinctive in-between space’viii on this continuum.ix The inherent flexibility of the concept of middlebrow allows me to propose a specific application here, using it as a heuristic device to analyze the responses to this international bestseller culture from an institutional point of view. Bourdieu’s ideas about cultural distinction can offer a fruitful perspective in this case, because foreign literary works inevitably played a role in domestic debates about cultural hierarchies.x

  • xi Cf. ibid., 226. Such complaints at least date back to the 19th century. Cf. Adriaan Hendrik van der (...)
  • xii L. van Krevelen, ‘Van liefhebberij tot cultureel ondernemerschap. Over de ontwikkeling van de liter (...)
  • xiii Itamar Even-Zohar, ‘The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem’, Poetics (...)

4In the Netherlands for instance, critics feared that the increasing importation of low quality translations would push aside qualitatively superior works by Dutch authors, reflecting a certain pride in the national literature.xi Such fears were not completely unfounded in a small book market in which literary works in the original language had only recently become commercially attractive for publishers.xii The Dutch book market can be characterized as peripheral : the literary system is dependent on other, larger literatures, which is illustrated by the large amount of translations as compared to the local production.xiii In my contribution I want to investigate how this peripheral market was affected by the upcoming international bestseller culture of the thirties, focusing on the adaptation, marketing and critical evaluation of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind (1936) and Katrina (1936) by Sally Salminen in the Netherlands.

Modesty, marketing and middlebrow : Sally Salminen’s Katrina

  • xiv Christiaan F. J. Schriks, Charles Gl. Behrens: portret van een journalist, vertaler, schrijver, boe (...)
  • xv His original name was Blits, but he used this dynamic spelling variant for his publishing house.
  • xvi NvdB, November 8, 1939; NvdB, November 15, 1939.
  • xvii This feast is somewhat comparable to Christmas.

5In the course of 1939 the Dutch florist M. Vellekoop had cultivated a lovely, dark-coloured chrysanthemum which he named after Sally Salminen, the famous writer of the international bestseller Katrina (1936). A bouquet of these flowers was sent to the residence of the successful author in Finland by the Royal Dutch airline, and in a friendly letter Salminen replied to Vellekoop that she was touched by his gracious gesture.xiv That this was more than just a sympathetic initiative of an enthusiastic book-loving florist, becomes apparent if we take a look at the activities of the publisher of the Dutch translation of the novel, Andries Blitz (1890-1942).xv He offered booksellers the possibility to decorate their shop-windows with a bouquet of Sally Salminen chrysanthemums, accompanied by some well-prepared advertising material and of course a pile of copies of Katrina.xvi The timing of this charm offensive at the end of November was significant, as the celebration of the Dutch feast of Sinterklaas (St Nicholas) on the fifth of December would traditionally account for a significant increase in book sales.xvii This anecdote is illustrative of the publisher’s creative and extensive marketing strategies.

  • xviii Hubregtse, ‘Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers: van ontstaan tot en met ontzuiling’, in Het zevende jaarbo (...)
  • xix For this innovation Blitz cooperated with the socialist publishing house De Arbeiderspers (The Work (...)
  • xx Fuks-Mansfeld, ‘Blits, Andries uitgever’; Anonymus, ‘Andries Blitz’.
  • xxi Schriks, Charles Gl. Behrens, 24, 27–28; Fuks-Mansfeld, ‘Blits, Andries uitgever’, 28.
  • xxii Erica van Boven, Bestsellers in Nederland 1900-2015 (Antwerpen / Apeldoorn: Garant, 2015), 90–92. A (...)

6Blitz had been working at the publishing house Scheltens & Giltay for a while when he started his own company in January 1929.xviii After the Second World War he became known for his extremely cheap ‘ABC-novels’, which were introduced in 1938 as the Dutch equivalents of the Penguin pockets (since 1935) and cost only thirty-five cents each.xix His publisher’s list further included adventure novels by the famous Dutch aviator Anton Viruly and the French author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the social-ironic bestseller De kleine parade (The Small Parade) by Henriëtte van Eyck and some works by Jewish authors.xx From 1936 on Blitz started publishing translations of popular Swedish works, which were translated by a Dutch newspaper correspondent in Stockholm, Charles Gl. Behrens.xxi The commercial potential for popular Scandinavian literature may have increased at that time as a result of the enormous success of the Björndal Trilogy (1933-1935) by the Norwegian author Trygve Gulbranssen.xxii

  • xxiii The information in this paragraph is mainly derived from: Roger Holmström, ‘Against All Odds. Sally (...)

7Sally Salminen was probably one of Blitz’s most successful authors. She had grown up on the Åland Islands, in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland, but had left her home country to work as a housemaid in New York. In her scarce spare time she wrote her debut novel about the life of a strong woman in the unequal, rural society of the Åland Islands in the early twentieth century. After some unsuccessful attempts to get the work published, Salminen participated in a novel-writing competition, which was organized by the Finland-Swedish publishing house Schildts in cooperation with the Swedish company Wahlström & Widstrand. Winning the prize changed her life completely : from an unknown housemaid she turned into a world-famous author. The original Swedish edition of Katrina, published in October 1936, was an instant bestseller, reprinted fifteen times in the first three months. The novel was soon translated into more than twenty other languages, including French, Italian and German.xxiii

  • xxiv His first advertisement for the novel dates November 6, 1936.
  • xxv NvdB, February 10, 1937.

8Andries Blitz was well-informed about the Scandinavian literary sensations of the day and seized his chance. He probably obtained the publication rights of Katrina within a few weeksxxiv and succeeded in publishing the Dutch translation only four months after the original, in February 1937.xxv He set up an active marketing campaign putting advertisements in just about all national and local newspapers. In his first, full-page announcement of the novel in the Nieuwsblad voor den Boekhandel (Newspaper for the Book Trade), Blitz described it as a work ‘which possesses all the qualities needed to become a tremendous success’, emphasizing the commercial potential of the novel (figure 1).

Figure 1 : advertisement for Katrina in NvdB ­

9The advertisement contained a portrait of Salminen and a short account of her rocketing career :

  • xxvi All quotes were translated by the author.

This girl became world-famous in one blow, and rightly so ! / she is SALLY SALMINEN, author of the novel : / KATRINA / the book which has won first prize for the best novel of 1936 in a competition held by a Swedish and Finnish publishing house. KATRINA was chosen unanimously from 76 incoming manuscripts as the best book and was awarded the first prize by the judging-committee.xxvi

  • xxvii Cf. Holmström, ‘Against All Odds. Sally Salminen’s Katrina and the Possibilities of Cultural Transf (...)
  • xxviii Anon. ‘Een nieuwe roman van Sally Salminen’. In: Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, January 2, 1940.

10Blitz actively propagated the Cinderella story of a young girl of modest descent writing a global bestseller out of the blue, an image which circulated in newspapers worldwide.xxvii His advertisements focused predominantly on her unexpected success rather than on the content of the book. In the course of 1937 Blitz published a photo book about the author, with the title Sally Salminen : de romantische geschiedenis van een schrijfster en haar roman met foto-illustraties (Sally Salminen : the Romantic History of a Writer and her Novel with Photographic Illustrations) ensuring that all readers knew who Sally Salminen was and what she looked like. He also invited Salminen to visit the Netherlands and meet her Dutch fans.xxviii He did not succeed, however, because of the increasing political instability in Europe at the end of the thirties.

  • xxix Galow, Writing Celebrity, 3.
  • xxx Gillis Dorleijn, ‘Grensverkeer in de media. De “Selbstinszenierung” van de auteur in literaire inte (...)
  • xxxi Ibid., 84–86; Cf. Galow, Writing Celebrity, 18–19.
  • xxxii Dorleijn, ‘Grensverkeer in de media. De “Selbstinszenierung” van de auteur in literaire interviews’ (...)
  • xxxiii Cf. Galow, Writing Celebrity, 29.

11Such forms of ‘personality promotion’xxix were relatively new in the Dutch literary field of that time. The genre of the author interview for instance had only recently become a common phenomenon in the Netherlands.xxx Blitz’s marketing strategy shows the increasing importance attributed to the author figure as a public persona, representing commercial value as a brand name on the (international) book market.xxxi Furthermore it demonstrates the importance of other media, in particular newspaper journalism, in the mediation of such author images.xxxii Blitz tried to cultivate an existing image of Salminen, which was originally created by journalism, and adapted it to his own commercial goals.xxxiii

  • xxxiv Anon. ‘De Meest verkochte boeken in December’. In: Haagsche Post, January 15, 1938. This first mont (...)
  • xxxv NvdB, November 1, 1939; De Telegraaf, March 1, 1950.
  • xxxvi Petra Broomans, Zweedse en Zweedstalige Finse auteurs in Nederlandse vertaling, 1491-2007. Een bibl (...)
  • xxxvii Fuks-Mansfeld, ‘Blits, Andries uitgever’.
  • xxxviii Ibid.; Hubregtse, ‘Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers: van ontstaan tot en met ontzuiling’, 148.
  • xxxix Hubregtse, ‘Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers: van ontstaan tot en met ontzuiling’, 156.
  • xl The title of her lecture was: ‘Noren, Zweden, Finnen en Denen, hun overeenkomsten en tegenstellinge (...)

12Although exact sales records are lacking, Katrina did indeed become a bestseller in the Netherlands, making it to number two on the 1937 list of ‘most demanded books’ in the periodical Haagsche Post (The Hague Mail).xxxiv In 1939 the tenth jubilee edition came out and after the war the novel kept selling : the twentieth edition was published in 1950.xxxv Salminen proved to be no nine days’ wonder, as seven of her other works were subsequently translated into Dutch.xxxvi Blitz himself never knew about the postwar popularity of his star author. As a Jewish publisher, he was deported to Auschwitz and died in August 1942.xxxvii By then, his company had already been liquidated and his publishing list was taken over by the publishers Holkema & Warendorf.xxxviii After the war, his widow Dé (Deborah) Tas administered his estate and kept the publishing house going.xxxix On her invitation Sally Salminen finally came over to Amsterdam in June 1946, where she gave a lecture about the similarities and differences between Norwegians, Swedes, Finns and Danes.xl

  • xli Anon. ‘Een bekroonde Zweedsch-Finsche roman’, In: Algemeen Handelsblad, March 2, 1937; J.G. de Haas (...)
  • xlii Mathijs Sanders, ‘Het buitenland bekeken’, in In 1934. Nederlandse cultuur in internationale contex (...)
  • xliii De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon. ‘Een bekroonde Zweedsch-Finsche roman’.

13Back in 1937, the launch of Katrina in the Netherlands triggered complaints about what was perceived as an international flood of low quality translations overrunning the Dutch market.xli Scandinavian works were considered a substantial part of this problem. Though in reality English and American works dominated the translation market, translations of Scandinavian works indeed accounted for a remarkable share of literary production in the Netherlands as compared to other small languages.xlii So the image of Scandinavian dominance was exaggerated, but the reaction explicable. Salminen’s novel, however, was considered a positive exception to the bulk of Scandinavian literature.xliii To justify this claim, Dutch reviewers set the work apart from its Scandinavian origins and related it to domestic hierarchies of quality. As such, Katrina was drawn into Dutch debates about the middlebrow novel. I want to highlight two aspects of this practice here : the moral values attributed to the novel and the modesty and simplicity ascribed to the work and its author.

  • xliv De Haas ‘Katrina’.
  • xlv P. Hardy, [review of Katrina]. In: Boekengids 1937, 343-344; De Haas ‘Katrina’.
  • xlvi De Haas ‘Katrina’.
  • xlvii P. Hardy, [review of Katrina].
  • xlviii Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Studiën. Tijdschrift voor godsdienst, wetenschap en letteren, 1938 ( (...)
  • xlix De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Soerabaijasch handelsblad, December 10, 1937.
  • l Anon. ‘Sally Salminen’s bekroonde roman “Katrina”’. In: De Telegraaf, March 14, 1937; Gabriël Smit (...)
  • li Gabriël Smit ‘Een bekroonde roman’.

14In the first place, the importance of Katrina to Dutch reviewers was determined by its ‘ethical value’.xliv The story about a woman who persistently tries to survive under the most difficult circumstances – a problematic marriage, labouring as a serf in a tough climate and losing contact with her children, made a profound impression on (professional) readers. Some of them wrote that they were emotionally touched by the work.xlv According to J.G. de Haas the idealism of the main character could function as an ‘example for everybody in our disrupted society who is despondent’ and in that sense the novel had ‘significance for the current generation’.xlvi P. Hardy maintained that Katrina ‘without illusions about life demands human compassion, without which the lives of millions would become like hell’.xlvii Salminen was praised for the ‘deep love with which [the author] wrote this novel’xlviii and the ‘heart’ that was beating in the book.xlix These critics thus valued the emotional effect of the book on readers, who would find support, comfort and hope in it. With such statements, the novel was contrasted with some of the supposedly typical characteristics of Scandinavian literature. Scandinavian works were considered ‘concise’, ‘sober’ and ‘gloomy’ in style, containing ‘plain ethics’ and an ‘uncomplicated view of problems’.l Katrina however was an exception to Scandinavian severity, because in the end its tone was optimistic : ‘Even in the darkest moments, an uncompromising courage to face life and a natural happiness were maintained’, as the reviewer Gabriël Smit wrote.li And it was this optimistic tone, this hopeful message, that made Katrina unique.

  • lii Cf. Ryanne Keltjens, ‘“The Miraculous Secret of a Good Book”: Representations of the Reading Experi (...)
  • liii De Haas ‘Katrina’.
  • liv Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, 234–235

15At the same time, the reception of the novel touched upon Dutch discussions about literary quality and cultural hierarchies. References to ethical values and reading pleasure and key words such as ‘love’ and ‘heart’ indicate that Katrina was counted among a broad category of literary works in the middle domain of the Dutch literary hierarchy.lii And indeed De Haas explicitly positioned the novel somewhere in between high art and entertainment, doubting whether the predicate ‘masterpiece’ would be applicable in this case and at the same time praising its distinctive qualities.liii Like many other reviewers in the interwar period, he promoted morally sound fiction as an alternative to mere entertainment, which was considered harmful.liv Furthermore, he opposed the emotional qualities of Katrina to the rational perspective of the literary elite and its intellectualistic world view :

  • lv De Haas ‘Katrina’. (emphasis added)

it is a healthy and powerful book with living people, a novel with a heart, which shows us life in a specific social environment without much aesthetic decoration, open, pure and not in the least through the deformed lens of intellectualism, which is still rampant in our literature.lv

  • lvi Cf. Van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late (...)
  • lvii Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, 233–236 (...)
  • lviii Cf. Van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late (...)
  • lix Mathijs Sanders, ‘De criticus als bemiddelaar. Middlebrow en de Nederlandse literaire kritiek in he (...)
  • lx Van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late jar (...)

16Although he acknowledged the dominance of this view,lvi De Haas defended an alternative perspective based on the moral values of literature and the taste of the general reader.lvii This position-taking is typical of a broad and heterogeneous group of reviewers who wanted to inform the general audience about the literary production of the day.lviii These ‘middlebrow critics’, as scholars of this period have recently termed them, believed in the social values of literature and thought of themselves as guides, mentors or mediators between literature and the reader.lix While accepting the lower status attributed to them in the critical hierarchy of the thirties, they self-consciously proclaimed their critical aims and ideas about literary quality as a legitimate alternative to the dominant perspective of elite or ‘highbrow’ criticism.lx

  • lxi Cf. Galow, Writing Celebrity, 27, 29.
  • lxii De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Studiën; Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Soerabaij (...)
  • lxiii Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Soerabaijasch handelsblad; A. Romein-Verschoor ‘Periscoop’ [review o (...)
  • lxiv A.J.D. van Oosten ‘Zweedsch-Finsche Literatuur’. In: De Tijd, July 12, 1937; De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon (...)
  • lxv Anon. ‘Groot in beroemdheid. Groot in bescheidenheid’. In: De Tijd, August 28, 1938. Cf. Het Vrije (...)

17The positioning of Katrina as a middlebrow novel is effectuated secondly by the discourse of modesty and simplicity used in relation to both the work and its author. Under the influence of Salminen’s prominence in the newspapers and Blitz’s marketing strategies almost all reviewers reproduced the image of an ordinary girl who had suddenly turned into a celebrity, stressing her modest background.lxi At the same time they described her novel as ‘simple’ and ‘pure’, drawing a direct link between the author’s personality and the formal and aesthetic characteristics of her work.lxii This striking emphasis on the simplicity of the novel and its author, which was clearly considered a positive trait, was used to demarcate Katrina from lower cultural spheres. Many reviewers criticized the commercial circus around the novel : its commercial launch with a ‘barrage of advertisements and impressive slogans’ and the literary prize as a dubious phenomenon, capitalizing on the sensationalism of the masses.lxiii Again, the novel was considered an exception because of its high quality, which legitimated its commercial success.lxiv At the same time, Salminen herself was believed to have successfully resisted the dangers of world fame by remaining as modest as she had always been.lxv So by stressing the simplicity of the novel and the modesty of the author, these critics were drawing a clear boundary between the middle sphere of ‘good books’ and the extremely commercial and morally dangerous domain of ‘lowbrow’ literature.

Prices, piracy and pedagogy : Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind

Figure 2: Dutch covers of Gone with the Wind trilogy

  • lxvi Pieck also took care of the illustrations in the Dutch translation of Gulbranssen’s Björndal Trilog (...)
  • lxvii The novel was translated by W.J.A. Roldanus Jr.

18Comparing the Dutch edition of Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind (1936) to its original makes one wonder whether the two actually contain the same story. Mr. Ad. M.C. Stok, director of the publishing house Zuid-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij (ZHUM), had turned the American bestseller into a trilogy with a completely different look and feel. Instead of the large, dark brown font on a soft yellow background and a small image of the main characters on the American dust jacket, the Dutch covers featured a huge cotton plant in art nouveau style, in three different colour variations (figure 2). Furthermore, the volumes each contained original drawings by the Dutch artist Anton Pieck, who was known for his romantic and nostalgic style.lxvi On top of that, the title pages of each volume bore newly-made Dutch titles : Vuur over land (Fire over Land), Als een vlam in de storm (Like a Flame in the Storm) and Het zaad ontkiemt (The Seed germinates). In other words : Stok made far-reaching changes to the original to adapt Gone with the Wind to the alleged demands of the Dutch reading audience.lxvii

  • lxviii Cf. Gerard van Eckeren ‘Het boek van de week’ [review of Gone with the Wind first volume and Robert (...)
  • lxix Mitchell and Harwell, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949, xxvii; Michael K (...)
  • lxx Jo van Rosmalen, ‘Economische wederwaardigheden van boekhandel en uitgeverij tussen de jaren 1877 e (...)
  • lxxi NvdB, March 30, 1938.

19One of the issues he had to deal with was the price Dutch readers were able and willing to pay for the novel. Because of the small language area, the Dutch translation of a voluminous book like Gone with the Wind would easily become too expensive for ordinary readers.lxviii Even by American standards the book was an expensive buy. It was only the second American novel until then with a price of three dollars, the first being the voluminous historical novel Anthony Adverse (1933) by Hervey Allen.lxix In the Dutch case, the majority of books around 1935 cost less than two guilders, although the prices were gradually increasing at that time due to a rise in paper costs.lxx The reasons for the division of the Dutch edition into three volumes were thus mainly economic. Costing 2,40 guilders each for the sewn edition and 3,25 guilders for the bound edition, the volumes were affordable separately. Still the whole trilogy was quite an investment for ordinary readers, but Stok believed that most of them would be enchanted by the first volume and would not be able to resist completing their collections. In an advertisement in NvdB, Stok sang the praises of his trilogy as a safe investment for bookshop owners, estimating that 95 % of the buyers of the first volume would in the end buy the other two volumes as well.lxxi

  • lxxii Anon. ‘Van de leestafel. De Amerikaansche succes-roman’. In: Limburger Koerier, June 20, 1938.
  • lxxiii Hans Anten, Van realisme naar zakelijkheid. Proza-opvattingen tussen 1916 en 1932 (Reflex, 1982), 9 (...)

20Besides economic considerations, cultural arguments may also have played a role, as suggested by an anonymous reviewer who stated that ZHUM had met ‘our national conventions’ by splitting the tome into three volumes.lxxii This reviewer was probably referring to debates about the status of the novel which had been going on in the Netherlands since the second half of the twenties. The young post-war generation of writers wanted to break with the realist tradition and their resistance was directed amongst other targets at the voluminous proportions of these works.lxxiii Stok may have wanted to comply with the ‘modern’ call for brevity.

  • lxxiv NvdB, October 6, 1937; The original edition was published on June 30, 1936. Finis Farr, Margaret Mi (...)

21The first volume of Gejaagd door de wind came out well over a year after the original, in the late fall of 1937, and the second and third volumes were published at monthly intervals, keeping the audience in some suspense.lxxiv The launch of the Dutch trilogy was accompanied by a modest marketing campaign in Dutch national and local newspapers and periodicals. In his advertisements Stok focused on the incredible sales figures the novel had achieved in the United States (figure 3) :

  • lxxv NvdB, October 6, 1937

An American bestseller means... nothing ! / A big American bestseller means... a little ! / An enormous American bestseller means... something ! / A book event unparalleled in this world means... something important ! [...] Because figures are more convincing than any other type of proof. [...] One and a half million copies in Americalxxv

  • lxxvi Amongst others: De Telegraaf, February 9, 1940; Het Vaderland, January 17, 1940.

22At the same time he stressed the autonomy of the Dutch audience, ascribing to this readership a taste independent of American book market successes. Still the US sales figures were mentioned in almost every advertisement Stok put in the paper and apparently functioned as the main argument to convince readers to buy the work. In contrast with Blitz’s campaign for Katrina, Stok did not refer to the personality or international fame of the author. In general, Margaret Mitchell’s personal life was far less prominent in the Dutch daily press than Salminen’s, whose marriage for example was all over the newspapers, including pictures of the happy couple.lxxvi

Figure 3: advertisement for Gone with the Wind in NvdB

  • lxxvii Cf. Gisèle Sapiro, ‘Les professions intellectuelles entre l’État, l’entrepreneuriat et l’industrie’ (...)
  • lxxviii Darden Asbury Pyron, Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell (New York, N.Y. etc.: Oxford (...)
  • lxxix NvdB, January 19, 1938; Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’. In: The Publishers’ Weekly, Februa (...)
  • lxxx Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’; Cf. Het Vaderland March 20, 1938.
  • lxxxi Mitchell and Harwell, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949, 197.
  • lxxxii Pyron, Southern Daughter, 422–423; Farr, Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta, 172–173, 221.

23As the commercial potential of international bestsellers increased, copyright regulations became more important,lxxvii as is clearly demonstrated by the case of Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell was negotiating with another Dutch publisher when she found out that ZHUM was preparing a translation of the novel without her authorization. She and her publisher Macmillan pressed charges against ZHUM for piracy, trying to prevent the novel’s publication in the Netherlands, but initially lost.lxxviii In January 1938 Mitchell and her legal advisors succeeded in suspending sales of the Dutch edition by an injunction, making sure it could no longer be distributed.lxxix Although the novel was released for distribution after six weeks,lxxx Mitchell wanted to ‘take it through every court in Holland’lxxxi – which she did. At the same time, she was taking out legal actions against - amongst others – Japanese and Chinese publishers, and all kinds of other different parties who tried to profit from her success.lxxxii

  • lxxxiii The US joined the Berne Convention in 1989. Cf. http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/ (Visited (...)
  • lxxxiv Ibid., 924; Pyron, Southern Daughter, 449.
  • lxxxv Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” Pirated. Holland Publisher Sued by Margaret Mitchell”;
  • lxxxvi Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’.; NvdB, January 19, 1938. This Committee was part of the Ve (...)
  • lxxxvii Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’.
  • lxxxviii Pyron, Southern Daughter, 449–452.
  • lxxxix Ibid., 431.

24All of this could happen because the United States had not yet ratified the Berne Convention, which regulates the international protection of copyright.lxxxiii American authors often used the so-called ‘backdoor to Bern’ to gain protection for their works, which meant that they published their works first or simultaneously in a country which had ratified the Convention.lxxxiv For this reason, Gone with the Wind was published at the same time in New York and in Canada. ZHUM’s attorney, however, successfully argued that this course of events was a feint.lxxxv Stok had already registered his intended translation of the novel with the Dutch Commissie voor het Vertalingsrecht (Committee in Translation Rights) halfway through 1936, and this right was granted to him on the assumption that the novel was published in the United States only, and therefore unprotected by the Berne Convention.lxxxvi Stok and the Committee probably heard about the Canadian edition for the first time about a year later, when Mitchell and Macmillan came up with the lawsuit.lxxxvii In September 1945 ZHUM and Mitchell finally reached an agreement, allowing Mitchell 28,500 guilders for royalties and other costs, which she received in 1948 – ten years after the injunction.lxxxviii By then the Dutch translation of Gone with the Wind had sold around 50,000 copies in the Netherlands and 7,000 in Belgium.lxxxix

  • xc Amongst others: De Telegraaf January 3, 1938; NvdB, January 5, 1938; Anon. ‘Margaret Mitchell’s “Ge (...)
  • xci NvdB, January 19, 1938.
  • xcii Mitchell and Harwell, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949, 197.; Statement (...)

25From the moment of the injunction, the legal case against ZHUM was widely discussed in the Dutch media.xc Stok himself referred to the Dutch Committee on Translation Rights and argued in NvdB that his publication was legal.xci As Mitchell herself also noticed, the media sided with Stok, stressing his ‘good faith’ and defending him against the accusation of piracy, which was considered a grave insult.xcii At the same time, American writers were considered victims of their own government that refused to take care of its authors’ legal rights. As an anonymous contributor to NvdB argued :

  • xciii NvdB, January 5, 1938; The author is referring to: Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” Pirated. Holland Pub (...)

In the meantime, the case has been brought before the Dutch court and we shall therefore refrain from expressing our opinion. It is however remarkable that the indignation of the Publishers’ Weekly’s editorial board about this presumed “piracy” is not directed against the fact that the United States have still not joined the Berne Convention. For that would immediately put an end to all “robberies”.xciii

  • xciv The Netherlands themselves were in fact rather late in fully implementing copyright law, as compare (...)
  • xcv Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, 170–171; Cf. Van der Weel, ‘Dutch Nineteenth-Century Attit (...)
  • xcvi Van der Weel, ‘Dutch Nineteenth-Century Attitudes to International Copyright’.
  • xcvii The edition was published in December 1945. Pyron, Southern Daughter, 450.

26Such statements reflected a sense of moral superiority and pride in the professional organization of the Dutch literary field.xciv These sentiments may have been reinforced by the fundamental inequality between the peripheral Dutch market on the one hand, which was economically dependent on the importation of foreign literary works, and the American book market on the other, which was rapidly moving towards the centre of a globalized bestseller culture in this period.xcv Dutch publishers had been defending unauthorized translations throughout the nineteenth century, because they were the mainstay of the Dutch book business.xcvi In the Dutch literary field of the thirties, the exploitation of an unauthorized literary work did not seem to affect the moral status of a publisher but apparently was still perceived mainly as an economic concern. Illustrative of this attitude was Stok’s sale of the copyright of the Dutch edition of Gone with the Wind to a Belgian publisher, in the period when negotiations about Mitchell’s royalties were in full swing.xcvii Furthermore, Stok used the injunction as a means to draw even more attention to his publication based on its sensational genesis :

  • xcviii Het Vaderland, March 20, 1938.

THE BOOK WHICH HAS BEEN EMBARGOED FOR 6 WEEKS / “Gone with the Wind” / by MARGARET MITCHELL which sold almost 2.000.000 copies in America is available again. / Limited edition ! Place an order today !xcviii

  • xcix C. Tazelaar ‘Over de trilogie van Margareth Michell [sic]’. In: Stemmen des Tijds 1938, 81-89, 89; (...)
  • c Anon. ‘Bibliographie, SINT NICOLAAS' KEUR-COLLECTIES.’ In: De Nieuwe Gids 52, December 1937, 593-59 (...)
  • ci Cf. Radway’s description of the values and tastes middlebrow critics promoted as ‘a kind of social (...)

27Although not every reviewer agreed with the critics C. Tazelaar and Jeanne van Schaik-Willing that Gone with the Wind was ‘a masterpiece’,xcix Dutch reactions to the novel were predominantly positive. Even though the trilogy was considered a genre of lower esteem, ZHUM was praised for its excellent choice to publish this international bestseller of high quality, indicating its position in the aforementioned middle domain.c Just like Katrina, Gone with the Wind was drawn into Dutch debates about the middlebrow novel, but unlike Salminen’s novel it apparently did not need to be explicitly distinguished from the lowbrow domain. Instead, Dutch reviews focused on the pedagogical and social values of the novel.ci

  • cii Anon. ‘Van de leestafel. De Amerikaansche succes-roman’.
  • ciii V. Pearce Delgado ‘Literatuur in Amerika. De historie leeft’. In: Het Vaderland, November 1, 1936.
  • civ Van Schaik-Willing ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’, 81.
  • cv These responses coincided with international reactions on the novel. Cf. Pyron, Southern Daughter, (...)
  • cvi Van Eckeren, ‘Het boek van de week’, 822.
  • cvii L. Schoenmakers [review of Gone with the Wind]. In: Boekengids 1938, 77; Anon. ‘Van de leestafel. D (...)

28In the first place, Gone with the Wind was considered an important novel because it provided readers with historical knowledge about the American Civil War. As an anonymous reviewer remarked : ‘for the knowledge it provides about this so unknown Southern part of the States it [the novel] could be called a beautiful documentary’cii and the reviewer Pearce Delgado wrote : ‘Indeed this period, this way of life is “Gone with the Wind”, but Margaret Mitchell’s book will remain as a worthy work for its remembrance [...]‘.ciii The instructive function of the novel was not just mentioned as an explanation for its success in the United States, but was also considered valuable for the Dutch audience, because it offered them a new perspective on American history : ‘The American civil war, that we have learned to view from the perspective of the Yankees, as we were raised with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, is painted in all its components, from the viewpoint of the slave owners of the Southern States.’civ In the second place, Mitchell was praised for her vibrant style of writing and in particular for the vital and persuasive characters she had created.cv Like Salminen she was considered ‘a born storyteller’cvi and Dutch reviewers emphasized the emotional effects of the novel : the ‘fascinating’ and ‘gripping story’, that would ‘stick in one’s mind’.cvii

  • cviii Van Schaik-Willing, ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’.
  • cix Van Schaik-Willing ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’, 80.
  • cx Van Boven, Een hoofdstuk apart.
  • cxi Erica van Boven, ‘De middlebrow-roman schrijft terug. Visies op elite en “hoge literatuur” in enkel (...)
  • cxii Cf. Andreas Huyssen, ‘Mass Culture as Woman: Modernism’s Other’, in After the Great Divide: Moderni (...)
  • cxiii Cf. Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, 227 (...)

29For the female critic Van Schaik-Willing both of these aspects were important reasons to try and convince ‘literary connoisseurs’ of the qualities of this ‘beautiful work of art’.cviii In her review, she criticized the highbrow attitude of ‘prune-faces, named lettrés’ towards the novel in general, particularly when it was written by a woman. In their crusade against voluminous realist novels elite critics were led by prejudices, she argued in a satirical manner : ‘A novel, he thinks, a novel in these times ! It must be rubbish. Another lady writer like (the reader may fill in names here). In that manner, a member of the literary elite will pull a long face as soon as he holds this voluminous Bible in his hands’.cix Van Schaik-Willing was not just referring to the discussion about the size of novels I described earlier, but also to the general resistance of the younger generation of critics against novels written by women, which were pejoratively referred to as ‘ladies’ novels’.cx As previous research has shown, these popular novels share formal and institutional characteristics with the British middlebrow novel of the interwar period.cxi A remarkable similarity is the assumed relation between literary quality and masculinity : many popular novels were considered inferior because they were written and supposedly read by women.cxii In her review Van Schaik-Willing defended an alternative view on literary quality, which was less informed by knowledge about the author or formal characteristics of the work. In this way she joined the impartial and democratic perspective Dutch middlebrow critics actively propagated as an alternative to ‘highbrow’ criticism, which was considered elitist, modish and prejudiced.cxiii

Concluding remarks

30As the cases of Katrina and Gone with the Wind have shown, the practices of Dutch publishers indicate that they were fully aware of the commercial potential of international bestsellers on the local book market. Both Blitz and Stok obtained the translation rights of these works as soon as they could and produced an edition which was adapted to local demands. Stok’s strategy mainly focused on the materiality of the work, turning Gone with the Wind into a trilogy to meet the economic limitations of a small language area and tailoring its appearance to the assumed taste of the Dutch audience. He also demonstrated his business acumen in dealing with a protracted international copyright case. Blitz on the other hand employed extensive modern marketing strategies and tried to cultivate Sally Salminen’s public persona while positioning Katrina on the Dutch market. The success of his methods is illustrated by the responses of Dutch critics, who adopted the image of modesty and simplicity in their reviews, showing the growing importance of personality promotion in the globalizing book market of the late thirties.

31As both novels were already bestsellers abroad and would soon become bestsellers in the Netherlands as well, critics were forced to deal with the commercial aspects of these works in their reviews. In the case of Katrina they used Salminen’s author image to position her work within the middle sphere of their literary hierarchies, promoting the work as a morally sound alternative to mere entertainment. As such, the novel was drawn into local debates about the (middlebrow) novel and became less ‘foreign’. Gone with the Wind was praised for its pedagogical and psychological qualities and ranked somewhat higher within the middle domain. Both novels triggered position-takings by critics who defended their ideas and methods against the perceived dominance of elite or highbrow criticism.

  • cxiv Isabelle Kalinowski, ‘Der Französische Hölderlin, Theorie des Literarischen Feldes und Rezeptionsfo (...)
  • cxv Ibid., 259–260.
  • cxvi The author wants to thank Anne-Fleur van der Meer for gathering some of the material, and Petra Bro (...)

32These findings confirm Isabelle Kalinowski’s argumentation that each literary field is in essence a national field and that the reception of foreign works in the first place is effectuated according to the values and hierarchies of this importing field.cxiv Although intercultural exchange may have increased with the rise of an international bestseller culture, the reception of a literary work will always take place within a specific national context.cxv The concept of middlebrow can help to unravel the ways in which ‘foreign’ works affected a specific national literary field : on the level of the literary work itself, which is positioned within a local literary hierarchy, and on the level of critical positions, as a means for reviewers to claim their position within the national critical domain.cxvi

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Bibliographie

Primary sources

Advertisements and short articles in :

NvdB (Nieuwsblad voor den boekhandel), volumes 103-106, 1936-1939. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

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Het Vaderland, 1938 and 1940. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

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De Waarheid, 1946. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Reviews

Anon. ‘Een bekroonde Zweedsch-Finsche roman’, In : Algemeen Handelsblad, March 2, 1937. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Anon. ‘De Meest verkochte boeken in December’. In : Haagsche Post, January 15, 1938. KB, National Library of the Netherlands, The Hague.

Anon. [review of Katrina]. In : Studiën. Tijdschrift voor godsdienst, wetenschap en letteren, 1938 (129), 277-278. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Anon. [review of Katrina]. In : Soerabaijasch handelsblad, December 10, 1937. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Anon. ‘Sally Salminen’s bekroonde roman “Katrina”’. In : De Telegraaf, March 14, 1937. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Anon. ‘Groot in beroemdheid. Groot in bescheidenheid’. In : De Tijd, August 28, 1938. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Anon. ‘Bibliographie, SINT NICOLAAS’ KEUR-COLLECTIES.’ In : De Nieuwe Gids 52, December 1937, 593-594. Consulted via www.dbnl.org on November 25, 2015.

Anon. ‘Kunst en Letteren Kroniek’. In : Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, April 12, 1940. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Anon. ‘Van de leestafel. De Amerikaansche succes-roman’. In : Limburger Koerier, June 20, 1938. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Gerard van Eckeren ‘Het boek van de week’ [review of Gone with the Wind first volume and Robert Nathan The Enchanted Voyage]. In : Eigen Haard 1937, 822-823.

J.G. de Haas ‘Katrina’. In : Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, May 1, 1937. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

P. Hardy, [review of Katrina]. In : Boekengids 1937, 343-344. Consulted via www.dbnl.org on November 25, 2015.

Bertil Jörnson ‘Uit het hooge Noorden’. In : Leeuwarder courant, February 27,1937. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

A.J.D. van Oosten ‘Zweedsch-Finsche Literatuur’. In : De Tijd, July 12, 1937. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

V. Pearce Delgado ‘Literatuur in Amerika. De historie leeft’. In : Het Vaderland, November 1, 1936. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

A. Romein-Verschoor ‘Periscoop’ [review of Katrina]. In : Critisch Bulletin, 1937, 206.

J. van Schaik-Willing ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’ [review of Gone with the Wind]. In : Critisch Bulletin 1937, 79-82.

L. Schoenmakers [review of Gone with the Wind]. In : Boekengids 1938, 77. Consulted via www.dbnl.org on November 25, 2015.

Gabriël Smit ‘Een bekroonde roman’. In : De Gooi- en Eemlander : nieuws- en advertentieblad, May 2, 1937. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

C. Tazelaar ‘Over de trilogie van Margareth Michell [sic]’. In : Stemmen des Tijds 1938, 81-89. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Figures

Figure 1 : NvdB, November 6, 1936. http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=dts:2770065:mpeg21:0009.

Figure 2 : photograph by Rick Luimes.

Figure 3 : NvdB, October 6, 1937. http://resolver.kb.nl/resolve?urn=dts:2774041:mpeg21:0013.

Other

Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” Pirated. Holland Publisher Sued by Margaret Mitchell”. In : The Publishers’ Weekly, December 18, 1937.

Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’. In : The Publishers’ Weekly, February 19, 1938.

Anon. ‘Margaret Mitchell’s “Gejaagd door de wind” in beslag genomen. Auteursrechtkwestie’. In : Leeuwarder Courant , January 14, 1938. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

Anon. ‘Een nieuwe roman van Sally Salminen’. In : Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, January 2, 1940. Consulted via www.delpher.nl on November 25, 2015.

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Note de fin

i Pascale Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, Convergences (Cambridge, MA etc.: Harvard University Press, 2004), 170–171.

ii Cf. Timothy W. Galow, Writing Celebrity. Stein, Fitzgerald, and the Modern(ist) Art of Self-Fashioning, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

iii Cf. Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, 170; Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell and Richard Barksdale Harwell, eds., Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949 (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1987), xxviii. Recent sales numbers are unknown to me. The production of the Gone with the Wind motion picture was delayed, but negotiations about the film rights started right away after the publication of the novel.

iv Clive Bloom, Bestsellers. Popular Fiction since 1900 (Basingstoke etc.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 32; Cf. Richard D. Altick, The English Common Reader. A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900 (Chicago etc.: The University of Chicago Press, 1963).

v Bloom, Bestsellers, 30–32; Altick, The English Common Reader, 141–187; Cf. Mary Hammond, Reading, Publishing and the Formation of Literary Taste in England, 1880-1914, The Nineteenth Century (Aldershot etc.: Ashgate, 2006), 3–4.

vi Stefan Collini, ‘Chapter 5: Highbrows and Other Aliens’, in Absent Minds. Intellectuals in Britain (Oxford etc.: Oxford University Press, 2006), 110–119. About the role of these intermediaries, see: Gisèle Sapiro, ‘The Literary Field between the State and the Market’, Poetics 31, no. 5–6 (2003): 451; Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction. A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, ed. Richard Nice (London: Routledge, 2006), 325.

vii Pioneering works in middlebrow studies include: Joan Shelley Rubin, The Making of Middlebrow Culture (Chapel Hill etc.: University of North Carolina Press, 1992); Janice A. Radway, A Feeling for Books. The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle-Class Desire (Chapel Hill etc.: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Ann L. Ardis, Modernism and Cultural Conflict. 1880 - 1922 (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2008).

viii Ardis, Modernism and Cultural Conflict, 116.

ix About the relation of middlebrow to Bourdieu’s conception of the literary field, see: Beth Driscoll, The New Literary Middlebrow. Tastemakers and Reading in the Twenty-First Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) (introduction); and: Caroline Pollentier, ‘Configuring Middleness: Bourdieu, L’art Moyen and the Broadbrow’, in Middlebrow Literary Cultures. The Battle of the Brows, 1920-1960, ed. Erica Brown and Mary Grover (New York etc.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 37–51.

x Cf. Mathijs Sanders and Alex Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, in Transitions in Middlebrow Writing, 1880-1930, ed. Kate Macdonald and Christoph Singer (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 223–41.

xi Cf. ibid., 226. Such complaints at least date back to the 19th century. Cf. Adriaan Hendrik van der Weel, Onbehagen in de schriftcultuur. Leesrevoluties in de negentiende en twintigste eeuw, (Amsterdam: Leiden University Press, 2007), 17. At the same time, critics complained that foreign quality works remained unknown in the Netherlands. Cf. Mathijs Sanders and Erica van Boven, ‘A Cream Pie with Rat Poison. La Madone in the Netherlands’, Relief 9, no. 1 (2015): 77–78.

xii L. van Krevelen, ‘Van liefhebberij tot cultureel ondernemerschap. Over de ontwikkeling van de literaire uitgeverijen in Nederland’, Jaarboek voor Nederlandse boekgeschiedenis 10 (2003): 13–14.

xiii Itamar Even-Zohar, ‘The Position of Translated Literature within the Literary Polysystem’, Poetics Today. 11, no. 1 (1990): 47–48. During the nineteen-twenties, sixty to seventy per cent of the published novels were translations. Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, 226. About the current situation in Europe, cf. Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, 168.

xiv Christiaan F. J. Schriks, Charles Gl. Behrens: portret van een journalist, vertaler, schrijver, boekverzorger, illustrator, graficus en briefschrijver (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 1994), 27.; NvdB, December 7, 1939; NvdB, November 8, 1939.

xv His original name was Blits, but he used this dynamic spelling variant for his publishing house.

xvi NvdB, November 8, 1939; NvdB, November 15, 1939.

xvii This feast is somewhat comparable to Christmas.

xviii Hubregtse, ‘Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers: van ontstaan tot en met ontzuiling’, in Het zevende jaarboek voor het democratisch socialisme, ed. Marnix Krop et al., 1986, 146; For more information about Blitz, see: Renate Gertrud Fuks-Mansfeld, ‘Blits, Andries uitgever’, in Joden in Nederland in de twintigste eeuw. Een biografisch woordenboek, 2007, 28–29; and Anonymus, ‘Andries Blitz’, in De laatste bladzijde... Gewijd aan uitgevers, drukkers, boekhandelaren, typografen en omslagontwerpers die stierven in de oorlogsjaren 1940-1945, 1995, 8.

xix For this innovation Blitz cooperated with the socialist publishing house De Arbeiderspers (The Worker’s Press). Hubregtse, ‘Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers: van ontstaan tot en met ontzuiling’, 146–147.

xx Fuks-Mansfeld, ‘Blits, Andries uitgever’; Anonymus, ‘Andries Blitz’.

xxi Schriks, Charles Gl. Behrens, 24, 27–28; Fuks-Mansfeld, ‘Blits, Andries uitgever’, 28.

xxii Erica van Boven, Bestsellers in Nederland 1900-2015 (Antwerpen / Apeldoorn: Garant, 2015), 90–92. About the reception of Scandinavian literature in the Netherlands, see: Petra Broomans, ‘Scandinavische literatuur in Nederland: verslonden, verzuild en verguisd’, in In 1934. Nederlandse cultuur in internationale context, ed. Helleke van den Braber and J. A. W. Gielkens (Amsterdam etc.: Querido, 2010), 407–14; Els Biesemans and G. L. M. Laureys, ‘The Reception of Scandinavian Literature in the Netherlands and Flanders 1860-1940’, in Rethinking Cultural Transfer and Transmission. Reflections and New Perspectives, ed. Petra Broomans and Sandra van Voorst (Groningen: Barkhuis, 2012), 75–92.

xxiii The information in this paragraph is mainly derived from: Roger Holmström, ‘Against All Odds. Sally Salminen’s Katrina and the Possibilities of Cultural Transfer’, in Battles and Borders. Perspectives on Cultural Transmission and Literature in Minor Language Areas, ed. Petra Broomans et al., Studies on Cultural Transfer and Transmission 7, 2015, 97–107; Cf. Anna Bondestam, ed., Sallys Saga: en bok om Sally Salminen till 50-årsminnet av ‘Katrina’ (Helsingfors: Schildt, 1986).

xxiv His first advertisement for the novel dates November 6, 1936.

xxv NvdB, February 10, 1937.

xxvi All quotes were translated by the author.

xxvii Cf. Holmström, ‘Against All Odds. Sally Salminen’s Katrina and the Possibilities of Cultural Transfer’, 103.

xxviii Anon. ‘Een nieuwe roman van Sally Salminen’. In: Rotterdamsch Nieuwsblad, January 2, 1940.

xxix Galow, Writing Celebrity, 3.

xxx Gillis Dorleijn, ‘Grensverkeer in de media. De “Selbstinszenierung” van de auteur in literaire interviews’, in Out of the Box. Über den Wert des Grenzwertigen, ed. Emmeline Besamusca, Christine Hermann and Ulrike Vogl (Wien: Praesens Verlag, 2013), 87; Cf. Gillis Dorleijn and Pieter Verstraeten, ‘L'interview littéraire aux Pays-Bas. L'institutionnalisation d'un genre complexe’, forthcoming.

xxxi Ibid., 84–86; Cf. Galow, Writing Celebrity, 18–19.

xxxii Dorleijn, ‘Grensverkeer in de media. De “Selbstinszenierung” van de auteur in literaire interviews’, 84–86.

xxxiii Cf. Galow, Writing Celebrity, 29.

xxxiv Anon. ‘De Meest verkochte boeken in December’. In: Haagsche Post, January 15, 1938. This first monthly bestseller list in the Netherlands existed from 1933 until 1939. Van Boven, Bestsellers in Nederland 1900-2015, 44–45. Of course one should be careful with this information, because bestseller lists are by definition unreliable and offer no exact sales numbers. For the lack of reliable (historical) information on book sales, see: Bloom, Bestsellers, 28 and further.

xxxv NvdB, November 1, 1939; De Telegraaf, March 1, 1950.

xxxvi Petra Broomans, Zweedse en Zweedstalige Finse auteurs in Nederlandse vertaling, 1491-2007. Een bibliografie, Studies on Cultural Transfer and Transmission, (Groningen: Barkhuis, 2013), 285–286; Cf. Schriks, Charles Gl. Behrens, 27–28.

xxxvii Fuks-Mansfeld, ‘Blits, Andries uitgever’.

xxxviii Ibid.; Hubregtse, ‘Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers: van ontstaan tot en met ontzuiling’, 148.

xxxix Hubregtse, ‘Uitgeverij de Arbeiderspers: van ontstaan tot en met ontzuiling’, 156.

xl The title of her lecture was: ‘Noren, Zweden, Finnen en Denen, hun overeenkomsten en tegenstellingen’. De Waarheid, June 5, 1946; De Waarheid, June 13, 1946; Het Vrije Volk, June 19, 1946.

xli Anon. ‘Een bekroonde Zweedsch-Finsche roman’, In: Algemeen Handelsblad, March 2, 1937; J.G. de Haas ‘Katrina’. In: Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, May 1, 1937.

xlii Mathijs Sanders, ‘Het buitenland bekeken’, in In 1934. Nederlandse cultuur in internationale context (Querido, 2010), 303. Sanders used the Dutch national bibliography (Brinkman’s Catalogue) for his analysis of the situation in 1934. Works translated from English and American English accounted for 27,3% of the fiction production, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish works together accounted for 3,4%, whereas for instance no Spanish works were translated into Dutch in 1934.

xliii De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon. ‘Een bekroonde Zweedsch-Finsche roman’.

xliv De Haas ‘Katrina’.

xlv P. Hardy, [review of Katrina]. In: Boekengids 1937, 343-344; De Haas ‘Katrina’.

xlvi De Haas ‘Katrina’.

xlvii P. Hardy, [review of Katrina].

xlviii Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Studiën. Tijdschrift voor godsdienst, wetenschap en letteren, 1938 (129), 277-278.

xlix De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Soerabaijasch handelsblad, December 10, 1937.

l Anon. ‘Sally Salminen’s bekroonde roman “Katrina”’. In: De Telegraaf, March 14, 1937; Gabriël Smit ‘Een bekroonde roman’. In: De Gooi- en Eemlander : nieuws- en advertentieblad, May 2, 1937.

li Gabriël Smit ‘Een bekroonde roman’.

lii Cf. Ryanne Keltjens, ‘“The Miraculous Secret of a Good Book”: Representations of the Reading Experience in Dutch Middlebrow Criticism’, Forthcoming; Erica van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late jaren dertig’, Spiegel der Letteren 54, no. 3 (2012): 359–360.

liii De Haas ‘Katrina’.

liv Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, 234–235.

lv De Haas ‘Katrina’. (emphasis added)

lvi Cf. Van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late jaren dertig’, 358.

lvii Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, 233–236; Erica van Boven, ‘Hollandse helden. Gemeenschap en natie in middlebrowromans’, Nederlandse Letterkunde 18, no. 3 (2013): 158.

lviii Cf. Van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late jaren dertig’; Erica van Boven and Mathijs Sanders, ‘Strijd om het middenveld. Middlebrow in de literaire kritiek: Menno ter Braak en P.H. Ritter Jr.’, Vooys 29, no. 1/2 (2011): 17–27; Keltjens, ‘“The Miraculous Secret of a Good Book”: Representations of the Reading Experience in Dutch Middlebrow Criticism’.

lix Mathijs Sanders, ‘De criticus als bemiddelaar. Middlebrow en de Nederlandse literaire kritiek in het interbellum’, Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde 124, no. 4 (2008): 312–33; Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’; Cf. Joan Shelley Rubin, ‘Introduction’, in The Making of Middlebrow Culture (Chapel Hill etc.: University of North Carolina Press, 1992), xvi.

lx Van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late jaren dertig’, 358–359, 364.

lxi Cf. Galow, Writing Celebrity, 27, 29.

lxii De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Studiën; Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Soerabaijasch handelsblad; Bertil Jörnson ‘Uit het hooge Noorden’. In: Leeuwarder courant, February 27,1937; Anon. ‘Sally Salminen’s bekroonde roman “Katrina”’. In: De Telegraaf.

lxiii Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Soerabaijasch handelsblad; A. Romein-Verschoor ‘Periscoop’ [review of Katrina]. In: Critisch Bulletin, 1937, 206; Anon. ‘Sally Salminen’s bekroonde roman “Katrina”’. In: De Telegraaf; De Haas ‘Katrina’.

lxiv A.J.D. van Oosten ‘Zweedsch-Finsche Literatuur’. In: De Tijd, July 12, 1937; De Haas ‘Katrina’; Anon. [review of Katrina]. In: Soerabaijasch handelsblad.

lxv Anon. ‘Groot in beroemdheid. Groot in bescheidenheid’. In: De Tijd, August 28, 1938. Cf. Het Vrije Volk, June 19, 1946.

lxvi Pieck also took care of the illustrations in the Dutch translation of Gulbranssen’s Björndal Trilogy (ZHUM, 1935-1936). Broomans, ‘Scandinavische literatuur in Nederland: verslonden, verzuild en verguisd’, 409, 412.

lxvii The novel was translated by W.J.A. Roldanus Jr.

lxviii Cf. Gerard van Eckeren ‘Het boek van de week’ [review of Gone with the Wind first volume and Robert Nathan The Enchanted Voyage]. In: Eigen Haard 1937, 822-823, 822.

lxix Mitchell and Harwell, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949, xxvii; Michael Korda, Making the List: A Cultural History of the American Bestseller, 1900-1999 (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 2001), 59.

lxx Jo van Rosmalen, ‘Economische wederwaardigheden van boekhandel en uitgeverij tussen de jaren 1877 en 1977’, in Het lam voor de glazen: opstellen over een eeuw boekbedrijf : 1877-1977, ed. Dingeman van der Stoep (Baarn: Ambo, 1977), 144.

lxxi NvdB, March 30, 1938.

lxxii Anon. ‘Van de leestafel. De Amerikaansche succes-roman’. In: Limburger Koerier, June 20, 1938.

lxxiii Hans Anten, Van realisme naar zakelijkheid. Proza-opvattingen tussen 1916 en 1932 (Reflex, 1982), 9, 13–32; Erica van Boven, Een hoofdstuk apart. ‘Vrouwenromans’ in de literaire kritiek 1898-1930 (Amsterdam: Sara/Van Gennep, 1992), 66–67.

lxxiv NvdB, October 6, 1937; The original edition was published on June 30, 1936. Finis Farr, Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta: The Author of ‘Gone with the Wind’ (New York: Morrow, 1965), 1.

lxxv NvdB, October 6, 1937

lxxvi Amongst others: De Telegraaf, February 9, 1940; Het Vaderland, January 17, 1940.

lxxvii Cf. Gisèle Sapiro, ‘Les professions intellectuelles entre l’État, l’entrepreneuriat et l’industrie’, Le Mouvement Social 214, no. 1 (2006): 9.

lxxviii Darden Asbury Pyron, Southern Daughter: The Life of Margaret Mitchell (New York, N.Y. etc.: Oxford University Press, 1991), 449.; Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” Pirated. Holland Publisher Sued by Margaret Mitchell”. In: The Publishers’ Weekly, December 18, 1937.

lxxix NvdB, January 19, 1938; Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’. In: The Publishers’ Weekly, February 19, 1938.

lxxx Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’; Cf. Het Vaderland March 20, 1938.

lxxxi Mitchell and Harwell, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949, 197.

lxxxii Pyron, Southern Daughter, 422–423; Farr, Margaret Mitchell of Atlanta, 172–173, 221.

lxxxiii The US joined the Berne Convention in 1989. Cf. http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/ (Visited on November 25, 2015); Sam Ricketson, The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works: 1886-1986 (London / Deventer: Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary College, University of London / Kluwer, 1987), 923.

lxxxiv Ibid., 924; Pyron, Southern Daughter, 449.

lxxxv Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” Pirated. Holland Publisher Sued by Margaret Mitchell”;

Mitchell and Harwell, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949, 196–197. Cf. NvdB, March 2, 1938; NvdB, May 10, 1939.

lxxxvi Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’.; NvdB, January 19, 1938. This Committee was part of the Vereeniging ter Bevordering van de Belangen des Boekhandels (Association for Promoting the Interests of the Book Trade). Cf. Adriaan van der Weel, ‘Dutch Nineteenth-Century Attitudes to International Copyright’, Publishing History 47 (2000): 33.

lxxxvii Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’.

lxxxviii Pyron, Southern Daughter, 449–452.

lxxxix Ibid., 431.

xc Amongst others: De Telegraaf January 3, 1938; NvdB, January 5, 1938; Anon. ‘Margaret Mitchell’s “Gejaagd door de wind” in beslag genomen. Auteursrechtkwestie’. In: Leeuwarder Courant , January 14, 1938.

xci NvdB, January 19, 1938.

xcii Mitchell and Harwell, Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone with the Wind’ Letters, 1936-1949, 197.; Statement of De Uitgever, February 1938, translated and reproduced in: Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” in Holland’.; Cf. NvdB, January 5, 1938.

xciii NvdB, January 5, 1938; The author is referring to: Anon. ‘“Gone with the Wind” Pirated. Holland Publisher Sued by Margaret Mitchell”; Cf: NvdB, March 16, 1938.

xciv The Netherlands themselves were in fact rather late in fully implementing copyright law, as compared to other European countries. Adriaan van der Weel, ‘Het “hardnekkige isolement” van Nederland in de geschiedenis van de toetreding tot de Berner Conventie.’, Van het boek en de rand: boeketje boekwetenschap III, 2013, 26–31.

xcv Casanova, The World Republic of Letters, 170–171; Cf. Van der Weel, ‘Dutch Nineteenth-Century Attitudes to International Copyright’, 40–42.

xcvi Van der Weel, ‘Dutch Nineteenth-Century Attitudes to International Copyright’.

xcvii The edition was published in December 1945. Pyron, Southern Daughter, 450.

xcviii Het Vaderland, March 20, 1938.

xcix C. Tazelaar ‘Over de trilogie van Margareth Michell [sic]’. In: Stemmen des Tijds 1938, 81-89, 89; J. van Schaik-Willing ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’ [review of Gone with the Wind]. In: Critisch Bulletin 1937, 79-82, 80.

c Anon. ‘Bibliographie, SINT NICOLAAS' KEUR-COLLECTIES.’ In: De Nieuwe Gids 52, December 1937, 593-594; Anon. ‘Kunst en Letteren Kroniek’. In: Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, April 12, 1940.

ci Cf. Radway’s description of the values and tastes middlebrow critics promoted as ‘a kind of social pedagogy’. Radway, A Feeling for Books, 15; Cf. Van Boven, ‘Cultuurdebat in Nederland. De gemiddelde lezer contra `intellectualisme’ in de late jaren dertig’, 366; Nicola Humble, The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, 1920s to 1950s: Class, Domesticity, and Bohemianism (Oxford etc.: Oxford University Press, 2001), 47–50.

cii Anon. ‘Van de leestafel. De Amerikaansche succes-roman’.

ciii V. Pearce Delgado ‘Literatuur in Amerika. De historie leeft’. In: Het Vaderland, November 1, 1936.

civ Van Schaik-Willing ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’, 81.

cv These responses coincided with international reactions on the novel. Cf. Pyron, Southern Daughter, 432.

cvi Van Eckeren, ‘Het boek van de week’, 822.

cvii L. Schoenmakers [review of Gone with the Wind]. In: Boekengids 1938, 77; Anon. ‘Van de leestafel. De Amerikaansche succes-roman’; Anon. ‘Bibliographie, SINT NICOLAAS' KEUR-COLLECTIES.’

cviii Van Schaik-Willing, ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’.

cix Van Schaik-Willing ‘Kracht en artisticiteit’, 80.

cx Van Boven, Een hoofdstuk apart.

cxi Erica van Boven, ‘De middlebrow-roman schrijft terug. Visies op elite en “hoge literatuur” in enkele publieksromans rond 1930’, TNTL 125 (2009): 285–305.

cxii Cf. Andreas Huyssen, ‘Mass Culture as Woman: Modernism’s Other’, in After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism, 399 (Bloomington etc.: Indiana University press, 1986), 44–62; Erica van Boven, ‘4 `Laat óns het geestelijk leven’. De elite en de publieksliteratuur in het interbellum’, in Van spiegels en vensters. De literaire canon in Nederland, ed. Lizet Duyvendak and Saskia Pieterse (Hilversum: Verloren, 2009), 62–64; Humble, The Feminine Middlebrow Novel, 1920s to 1950s, 18.

cxiii Cf. Sanders and Rutten, ‘Who Framed Edgar Wallace? British Popular Fiction in the Netherlands’, 227; Keltjens, ‘“The Miraculous Secret of a Good Book”: Representations of the Reading Experience in Dutch Middlebrow Criticism’.

cxiv Isabelle Kalinowski, ‘Der Französische Hölderlin, Theorie des Literarischen Feldes und Rezeptionsforschung’, in Text und Feld: Bourdieu in der Literaturwissenschaftlichen Praxis, ed. Markus Joch and Norbert Christian Wolf (Tübingen: Niemeyer, 2005), 248.

cxv Ibid., 259–260.

cxvi The author wants to thank Anne-Fleur van der Meer for gathering some of the material, and Petra Broomans, Erica van Boven, Mathijs Sanders, Pieter Verstraeten, Meriel Benjamins and Alex Rutten for their commentary on earlier versions of this article.

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Légende Figure 1 : advertisement for Katrina in NvdB ­
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Légende Figure 2: Dutch covers of Gone with the Wind trilogy
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Légende Figure 3: advertisement for Gone with the Wind in NvdB
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Ryanne Keltjens, « Quality Sells », Belphégor [En ligne], 15-2 | 2017, mis en ligne le 21 novembre 2017, consulté le 22 juin 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/belphegor/1017 ; DOI : 10.4000/belphegor.1017

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Auteur

Ryanne Keltjens

University of Groningen

Ryanne Keltjens completed a BA in Early Modern Dutch Literature and a Research Master in Literary and Cultural Studies (with distinction) at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. She now works at the National Library of the Netherlands as a coordinator of the Digital Library of Dutch Literature (dbnl.org). At the same time she is finishing her dissertation, which explores the multi-faceted domain of Dutch middlebrow criticism in the interwar period. This PhD project is part of the research project ‘Dutch Middlebrow Literature 1930-1940 : Production, Distribution, Reception’, funded by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and supervised by prof. dr. E.M.A. van Boven and dr. Mathijs Sanders. Ryanne’s research interests include popular literature, (literary) periodicals, the functions of literature for readers, author representations, literary hierarchies and canon formation. Her scholarly work can be characterized by a broad, international perspective on current and past literary culture, from an institutional point of view.

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