Ontboezemingen by Gabriël

Last week I posted a book to Project Gutenberg that I had talked about earlier (“Haddockisms“): Ontboezemingen by Gabriël, Carel van Nievelt’s pseudonym. Van Nievelt was a writer of fantasy and travel stories. Oddly enough he does appear from time to time in translated collections, but he has almost been forgotten in the Netherlands. Only his stories about Dutch India (what is now Indonesia) have recently been reprinted in their original language.

His fame declined during his lifetime. As Metamorfoze, the digitization project of the Dutch national library, writes:

[…] Van Nievelt was not popular with the Tachtigers [a literary movement that made l’art pour l’art, Branko]. They thought him old-fashioned, pathetic and sentimental.

[But] in his productive years he was a well-read author, and literary historians and critics paid much attention to his work: “The novelist Van Nievelt is Somebody,” a reviewer wrote in De Gids in 1884. But after that his fame faded quickly, and oblivion remained.

Snatch! Thanks to Project Gutenberg his name lives on a little longer. Ontboezemingen (Confidences) is Van Nievelt’s first book, and it contains a number of short stories and one farcical play. There are a number of stories about his travels to and time in India, and three love-letters (he continuously calls young women “nonnas”, the Italian for “grannies”). The play appears to be referenced earlier, when he describes how he got so bored at sea that he wrote a play, and he and his friends performed it, to pass the time.

With the help of countless volunteers I have transcribed the two song fragments in the book into Lilypond format, which means you can turn them into anything you want: Project Gutenberg has PDF and MIDI files of both songs. According to Van Nievelt the songs are supposed to be local, Indonesian compositions, but that is doubtful, as they follow Western chord progressions. The second tune (Gamelan) sounds supiciously like the first few notes of the theme tune to Dallas, by the way.

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