Bespreken is zilver, verzwijgen is goud | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 20, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5829
  • E-ISSN: 2352-118X



The promotional activities of publishers and the different practices of literary critics became closely intertwined in the Netherlands during the first half of the twentieth century. In this article, we focus on how these two types of actors worked together and responded to new possibilities on the changing book market. We are particularly interested in what critics experienced as limitations or possible threats to their independent statuses and their positions in the field. These may have been most pressing for critics who had contacts with many different media and organizations. Such a central position within a literary network seems to be a characteristic of the so-called ‘middlebrow’ critic. Middlebrow critics were actively concerned with the social functions of literature and emphasized the need for cultural mediation. Our analysis of the behaviour and position-takings of three critics, Herman Robbers, Roel Houwink and P.H. Ritter Jr., shows that in their relationships with publishers, they operated within a grey area between commercialism and idealism, in which the (traditional) boundaries of ‘independent’ and professional criticism were at the same time consolidated, stretched and negotiated.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): cultural mediation; literary criticism; middlebrow; publishing strategies
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