Opperlandse taal- & letterkunde online, for free
There are three major e-book projects that make electronic books available for free to the general public in accessible formats (usually HTML, sometimes “plain text”). One is Project Gutenberg, an American project that does not limit itself to English. I am a volunteer there. The second is Project Laurens Jz Coster, named after the Dutchman who stole Gutenberg’s ideas for movable type in order to claim he had invented movable type himself. The third is the Digitale Bibliotheek Nederlandse Letteren.
The latter claims a copyright on texts that are clearly in the public domain: a wholly despicable practice that is morally equivalent to fraud. If I could avoid linking to them, I would. Unfortunately they are jealousy inducingly active, and also have managed to convince many authors and estates to let them publish books that are indeed still in copyright.
One of these books is Battus’ Opperlandse taal- & letterkunde, the definitive book for playfully documenting the many quirks of the Dutch language. Battus is the pseudonym for Hugo Brandt Corstius, a computer linguist who knows how to write. The DBNL publishes the 2nd edition of 1981.
I’ll explain the differences between the three projects in greater detail in a future post, because all three projects have their own distinctive strengths, which it helps to know when you are looking for a certain Dutch classic.