Louis Couperus (1863-1923)

Louis Couperus lived from 1863 to 1923 and he is among the most prominent Dutch novelists. Couperus became a celebrity not only in the Netherlands but also in several English speaking countries through his psychological works such as “The hidden force”, “Old people and the things that pass”, and “The books of the small souls”.

From his forties onwards, Louis Couperus became increasingly inspired by the literary and other cultural aspects of classical antiquity. Louis Couperus was a firm believer in reincarnation and he was convinced that he had lived in ancient Roma in an earlier life. One of his famous novels that relate to this is “The mountain of light” which describes the rise and fall of Elagabalus, the deified emperor, a book that became highly popular in Germany.

Couperus’ psychological novels were, however, more successful in the UK and the USA while his historical works became more popular in Germany. The Louis Couperus Museum is committed to the preservation and promotion of Loius Couperus’ life and literary works. The Museum features two yearly exhibitions that highlight various aspects of Couperus’ oeuvre and life.

Louis Couperus spent much of his life in the spotlight. From his debut as a novelist and his first public appearances, magazines and newspapers were targeting his work and his personality. Couperus dressed elegantly, he was considered a Dutch dandy (a pretty uncommon Dutch appearance) and many of his critics considered his works being decadent. Some even thought of his works as outright dangerous, especially for the young.

Louis Couperus is typically a Dutch author. The Netherlands, or Holland, is not a country that’s famous for its great thinkers. Couperus was truly an impressionist. He could portray a figure in his works through just one of his quick sketches. His somewhat careless spelling is one of his greatest qualities that characterizes the author’s historical novels. This becomes very clear in his historical novel Yourcenar.

Louis Couperus was building the characters in his novels based on his personal experiences. He was a true people watcher and this becomes very clear in his works. His detailed perception allowed him, for example, to portray ancient Romans absolutely lifelike. That’s class!

The Louis Couperus Museum organizes regular short walks in the neighborhood where Louis Couperus and most of his novel characters lived. Just check out the museum’s website to learn when walks are available and to what subject of the exhibitions they will relate.

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