Since 2007, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer has delivered a stage text almost every year.This has resulted in full-length work such as Malpensa, Blueprint for an Even Better Life, The Lawyer, Behind the House and recently Just Call It Love, but also eight smaller pieces.They are all steeped in the theme of love and always written on the skin of time.The politics of Berlusconi, the grave capitalism, the deconstruction of a hot-shot lawyer: it is all addressed in a sparkling collection that the author himself describes as “the annals of those who unlike we admit that they play a role”.The Many-Voiced Man contains all the stage texts including the last one, The Prosecutrix.
The Century of My Daughter (2007)
Romeo and Julia (2009)
La pace denunciata (2010)
The Strange Story of Mister K or The Quiz Master (2010)
Since 1 January 2018, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer has been writing a sonnet about the news for the newspaper every other week. These columns in poetry form are printed every other Friday in NRC Handelsblad. This is a collection of the 26 sonnets that appeared in 2019 and that together form a poetic overview of the year.
Sonnets 2019 was commissioned by Michaël Roumen and designed by the Ghent-based designer duo Ruttens-Wille, set in Bradford and printed as a softcover on Munken Print White in a one-time edition of 250 numbered and signed copies.
In the Western theater repertoire there are hardly any female roles that can compare to classic male protagonists like Hamlet, Oedipus or Uncle Wanja.Zuidpool is changing that and is joining forces with grandmaster Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer.He has written a theater text about the rise and fall of a famous actress.As the victim of and champion against male oppression, she quickly achieved enormous hero status.She becomes an example for other women worldwide and sets in motion a movement that can be felt in all parts of society.Until she turns out to be the perpetrator …
The Prosecutrix is a contemporary tragedy in which truth and fake truth are intertwined beyond recognition in a battle that is being waged through the media.A struggle in which imaging is more powerful and fatal than facts.
Premiere: 4 maart 2020, Theater Zuidpool, Antwerpen
Actors: Sofie Decleir, Koen van Kaam, Robby Cleiren, Kenneth Cardon en Stijn Van Opstal
“What doubt is for science,” wrote the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), “that is irony for personal life.” But in the social debate, irony soon leads to indifference.And Kierkegaard knew that too.The ironist makes everything a joke and takes nothing seriously anymore, “in order to save himself.”
In our polarized and ridiculed debate culture, Kierkegaard’s warning applies more than ever.While world leaders play with bombs and grenades, the media entertainment industry runs on jokes and bloopers of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, who are liked and shared with ironic emoticons and jolly gifs.
In this witty and moving essay Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer wonders whether irony and satire can still be critical weapons against the unbearable lightness of the debate.
“Of course Pfeijffer’s essay is much better written than all that science – clearer, livelier, more expressive.” — Dutch Studies
Since 1 January 2018, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer has been writing a sonnet about the news for the newspaper every other week.These columns in poetry form are printed every other Friday in NRC Handelsblad.This is a collection of the 26 sonnets that appeared in 2018 and that together form a poetic overview of the year.
Sonnets 2018 was commissioned by Michaël Roumen and after a design by the Ghent-based designer duo Ruttens-Wille set in Bradford and printed as a softcover on Munken Print White in a one-time edition of 250 numbered and signed copies.
The bitter, touching comedy Just Call It Love stages a relay of encounters in the famous Majestic Imperial Hotel, where hundreds of rooms have room for loneliness. The play follows the quest of its characters for lust, affection or a form of solidarity and recognition that may ease the silence and solitude. What they are looking for, goes under many names. But just call it love.
Pfeijffer ironically, viciously, passionately and disconcertingly sheds light on love in the 21st century, where sex and love are often confounded, with all its consequences. Almost every scene sets off from a recognizable starting point. In daily life, too, what happens is mainly cliché. But every time the situation is reversed in a surprising manner within a few exchanges, inviting the public to reconsider their predetermined views and premature conclusions. Through this potpourri of one-act plays, offering a sample card of forms of love at the beginning of the third millennium, runs like a red thread to the story of the elderly rock and roll legend Mitchel Brubaker, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and his wife Cat, who during his heydays was his groupie and background singer and who now reminds him of the adventures during their fifty year long love-story that have leaked from his own memory. The story of Cat is the story of the ultimate sacrifice and a poignant demonstration of true love.
Premiere: 10 March 2019, Theater aan het Vrijthof, Maastricht
Actors: Anniek Pheifer, Jeroen Spitzenberger, Jan-Paul Buijs, Jouman Fattal, Viktor Griffioen, Elisabeth De Loore
Director: Michel Sluysmans
Company: Toneelgroep Maastricht
“Pfeijffer’s text is a refined mix of plastic descriptions of dismal sexual indulgences and solemn statements about love. It is an ingeniously constructed mosaic story, which also covers contemporary themes such as #MeToo, robot sex and the ups and downs of dating sites.” — ***** De Volkskrant
“Just Call It Love is both a heart cry and a brilliant pastiche on Reigen [from Arthur Schnitzler] from the fin de siècle. It is also an investigation into contemporary morality, questioning about how we deal with love in times of #MeToo, internet dating and robot love.”**** NRC Handelblad
“A hilarious, mean, but also poetic text.”– **** The Limburger
“Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer shows himself to be a true romantic.” — Trouw
Grand Hotel Europa has dominated the Dutch general bestselling list for more than an entire year. 220,000 copies have been sold so far.
Grand Hotel Europa will be published in English in the United States by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and in the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth by 4th Estate.
‘The love of my life lives in my past.That is, despite the alliteration, a terrible sentence to write.I do not want to come to the conclusion that, as it is the case for the hotel where I am staying and the continent after which it is named, the best time is behind me and that I have little more to expect from the future than to live on my past.’
A writer takes residence in the illustrious but decaying Grand Hotel Europe, to think about where things went wrong with Clio, with whom he fell in love in Genoa and moved to Venice. He reconstructs a compelling story of love in times of mass tourism, about their trips to Malta, Palmaria, Portovenere and the Cinque Terre and their thrilling search for the last painting of Caravaggio. Meanwhile, he becomes fascinated by the mysteries of Grand Hotel Europe and gets more and more involved with the memorable characters who inhabit it, and who seem to come from a more elegant time. All the while, globalization seems to be grabbing hold even on this place frozen in time.
Grand Hotel Europe is Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s masterly novel on the old continent, where so much history resides that there is no place left for a future and where the most realistic future perspectives are offered in the form of exploiting the past in the shape of tourism. It is a theatrical and lyrical book about European identity, nostalgia to the end of an era. It is, how troubling it may be, his best book yet.
‘Grand Hotel Europe does not shy away from anything. It wants to impress, and it impresses. It is that big-bigger-biggest grip which makes the novel into an astounding masterpiece. It is also a wonderful book, which you will read with increasingly feverish eagerness. Pfeijffer captures the zeitgeist and serves it up irresistibly. He wrote the novel of the year.’ — ***** NRC Handelsblad
‘A masterpiece: grandiose style, brilliant and rich. It will defy the ages.’ — ***** Trouw
‘Grand Hotel Europe is not only an overwhelming reading experience, but Pfeijffer also gives you lots of food for thought. Who else in contemporary Dutch literature could do what he does, to turn up the heat on our zeitgeist in such a great way and to thumb the nose at all those timid, tiny novels full of first world problems?’ — De Morgen
‘Do not hesitate to call Grand Hotel Europe a pageturner. The most admirable thing about the novel is Pfeijffer’s fascination with these subjects, his involvement. […] Grand Hotel Europe is not only an reflection on our identity, but also a contribution to its continuation.’ — de Volkskrant
‘Every sentence in Grand Hotel Europe is dipped in both homesickness and trepidation.’ — De Standaard
‘In spite of the loaded subject, his great European novel is a pageturner.’ — De Tijd
‘You should put Grand Hotel Europe by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer on the shelf next to Europe books by Thomas Mann and Harry Mulisch. Rarely have we read a novel that ingeniously links a tragic but beautiful love story with serious, but never dull, often witty reflections on the phenomenon that is Europe. […] Grand Hotel Europe is a love letter to an old beloved, a dead-tired but stunning continent.’ — De Limburger
‘With the virtuosic gesture with which Pfeijffer tends to take on his versatile and coquettish narratives, and with the graceful elegance of his sentences, he wrote both a novel and a reflection on the paradoxes of tourism and migration, and on the longing for history that is innate to Europe.’ — Klara Radio
‘Whether he writes about refugees, mass tourism, globalization, selfies or Caravaggio: not only what Pfeijffer tells us, but also his mastery of language and the pleasure that radiates from it, keeps you under a spell until the final page. As far as we are concerned the novel of 2018 at the last minute.’ — Het Laatste Nieuws.
‘Un-Dutch good. In a word: fantastic, grandiose, magnificent, splendid, sublime, superbe, wonderful.’ — TZUM
‘A spectacle.’ — De Leeuwarder Courant
A selection of reactions from the acquiring international publishing houses:
– “I’ve been following Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s fiction for years now, thanks to the excellent translations published in the US by Open Letter Books and Deep Vellum Publishing. Pfeijffer’s prose is funny, nasty, sharp, and at once self-conscious and absolutely light on its feet. I’m so pleased to be able to publish his biggest and most important statement to date here in the New World: the Great European Novel indeed!” – Jeremy Davies, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (North America)
– “I’m thrilled that we will be publishing Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s magnificent Grand Hotel Europa. It is a rich, bold and endlessly intelligent novel, sewn with narrative threads that are intriguing and tell an intimate personal story as well as painting a larger picture: the journey Europe has taken and the challenges it now faces.” – Nicholas Pearson, 4th Estate (United Kingdom and the Commonwealth)
– “I was amazed by the fact that Ilja is able to do two things at the same time in his text – he creates a narrative which is full of tension and emotional depth, while simultaneously he is able to discuss the European history, culture, philosophy – and current situation in a most inspiring way. Not an easy concept – but most convincingly performed. I am sure that German readers (and not least critics) will recognize and appreciate this.” – Thomas Tebbe, Piper Verlag (Germany)
– “Finally it is here: The Great European Novel! We have been waiting for a book like this. It is both a beautiful love store and a very clever reflection on European identity, capturing the zeitgeist in a precise, impressive, ambitious and intelligent way. Written in a prose that literally dances across the pages, with smart sentences full of energy, refreshing reflections and insights […] To mold these issues into a work of great literary quality yet managing to be both accessible, gripping and page turning, is nothing short of impressive.” – Lene Sandvold Evensen, Gyldendal (Norway)
– “Grand Hotel Europe is unquestionably a masterpiece – sophisticated, semantically multi-layered and stylistically brilliant – a contemporary classic that could have been written only by an author of outstanding talent and enviable erudition. The novel is set in Venice, just a few hours’ drive from Croatia. The town serves not only as a metaphor for the old continent, but also as a place which shares a thankless tourist reality of many Croatian cities.” – Marija Bošnjak, V.B.Z. online bookshop & club. (Croatia)
In Genoa, the city that Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer calls his home, a new day unfolds. Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer recites his poem ‘Idylle 26’. Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer was the winner of the VSB Poetry Prize 2016 with his collection Idyllen.
The diary of Anne Frank is more than a sacred book of murdered innocence, a testimony of the Shoah that commands compulsory awe and an untouchable monument that seems to derive its importance especially from the fact that it keeps alive a memory of an obscure episode in our past. Approaching the book in this way does not do justice to the author. She writes on subjects that are much more universal than the specific interest of the historical context that has completely overshadowed her work. Despite the inhuman conditions in which she wrote it, her book smells extremely human. It is the testimony of a young woman with nascent feelings that are extremely uncomfortable in the strange situation in which she finds herself. It is the account of a bizarre experiment, in which people are locked up for years in a space and have little contact with the outside world of which they only know that it is extremely hostile. The secret lodging that Anne Frank has described in her book, is a claustrophobic laboratory of emotions, fears, hostility, hope and despair, which are all too human in their inhuman magnification.
Now that the copyright has expired, seventy years after the author’s death, the time is ripe for a free adaptation of the story that Anne Frank wrote and for an interpretation of the most candid version of her diary, in which the human element is placed in the foreground. This play offers an intimate and disturbing staging of the claustrophobic miniature society in the secret lodging. This work of fiction seeks the ambiguity and embarrassment in the mutual relations of the victims, who in their relationships to each other in this extreme situation can also become guilty. That is the true drama of the secret lodging. This is what this play wants to make visible, audible and tangible. And this discomfort is investigated by the unsettling perspective of a girl who, despite everything, becomes a woman. This is the approach that does justice to Anne Frank.
Premiere: 11 November 2017, Stadsschouwburg Haarlem, Haarlem.
Actors: Anne van der Burg, Hajo Bruins, Oda Spelbos, Raymonde de Kuyper, Cees Geel, Marie Louise Stheins, Michiel Nooter, Joost Koning en Amarenske Haitsma.
As a gift for the Week of Dutch and Belgian Poetry 2015, printed in an edition of more than 20 thousand copies, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer wrote a crown of sonnets on the theme of the cynical cycle of love, which moves from desiring to loving to losing and to suffering the lack, after which the cycle can start all over again. Giro giro tondo is the only crown of sonnets made totally according to all the classical rules of the genre in Dutch literature. The last verse of each sonnet constitutes the first of the next poem and taking the first verse of each sonnet one obtains another further sonnet.
In Minister Kwist we closely follow the final days of the first Rutte cabinet. And by looking over the shoulder of the least well-known minister from that cabinet. Kwist, minister of the smallest and least important department. He had been a member of the Christian Democrat Party, long ago in his student days, because he was studying at the Christian University. And then he had actually forgotten to cancel his membership. And in the summer of 2010 he was suddenly called. The beginning of the end. Minister Kwist is a hilarious political feuilleton, in the first half of 2012 appeared in weekly episodes in the (then) weekly magazine HP / De Tijd.
An anthology of classical stories about the Dutch city of Leiden, cosen by Onno Blom and Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, enriched by new stories especially written for the collection by Maarten ‘t Hart, Frank Koenegracht, Peter van Zonneveld, Pauline Slot, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, Onno Blom, Abdelkader Benali, Christiaan Weijts, Thomas Blondeau en Arjen van Veelen.
This collection of Collected Poems 1998-2008 contains the award-winning and acclaimed collections Van de vierkant man (1998), The glimmering of the welkwiek (2001), Dolores (2002) and In the name of the dog (2005), as well as the sonnet wreath Ropes from The big dredging book (2004), the song lyrics for Ellen ten Damme until 2008 and unbundled poems that were written between 1998 and 2008. The previously unreleased collection Doka has been added to this as well as the long narrative poem Lilith, not published before.
Two Dutch businessmen wait for the delayed flight to Rome Fiumicino at Malpensa airport near Milan. To kill the time they get into conversation with each other. That is to say: they play that they do not know each other. That is of utmost importance for their safety. No one should know of their dangerous, destructive and criminal mission, which they have set out in boredom and decadence. Moreover, no one should know that, now that their flight is delayed, they are recklessly jeopardizing the success of their mission from the same boredom and decadence by thinking that they can act well.
Premiere: 8 March 2008, Theater aan het Spui, Den Haag .
A political satire on the conservative restauration policy of the Dutch governments in rhyming alexandrines, set in the near future, when the best actor of the Netherlands takes the dead prime minister’s place, a drama that is set in motion and supervised by the three remaining Greek gods.
Premiere: 17 March 2007, Theater aan het Spui, Den Haag.
Actors: Jaap Spijkers, Nettie Blanken, Thijs Römer, Michel Sluysman, Eva Duivestein, Lidewij Mahler.
In the name of the dog contains sixteen poems that can truly be called ‘great’ in every respect: each individual poem is a hymn that sings like a dog and whines like a tipsy angel. Moreover, in every poem with a multitude of styles and verses over various pages the poet digs into the greatest themes, such as love, especially love, which makes life so unbearable. Classical verse forms such as sonnets and roundels are placed side by side in the same poem with free verses of great visual power.
This unprecedented form experiment redefines the genre of the large, hymnic poems. Apart from that, In the name of the dog is a collection that is terrifyingly written close to the skin. In this sense, Pfeijffer lives up to his own definition of great poetry in this collection: this is more than ever dangerous poetry.
This book deals with political propoganda in classical antiquity, exploring the contexts, strategies, and parameters of a fascinating phenomenon that has often been approached with anachronistic models or completely ignored. It offers case studies on the archaic period, classical Athens, the Hellenistic kingdoms, the Augustan age and the late Roman empire.
What’s to become of poetry? Everyone is versifying anything, everything is allowed and nothing is bad. High time for new standards and values. The secret of the Murdered Maunder is a collection of Pfeijffer’s essays on poetry. It contains, among other things, his widely maligned essay ‘The myth of intelligibility’, the authoritative essay ‘The myth of the spontaneous girl’, razor-sharp pieces about Dutch celebrities (among whom Faverey, Nooteboom and Kopland) and historical essays on Sappho, Pindarus, Horatius, Goethe , Hölderlin, Lucebert and the invention of literature, all of this supplemented with a few pieces written especially for this book. This book is a passionate search and a firm position. Here is a man who uncompromisingly declares his love to the greatest poetry and ruthlessly observes the productions of some monstrous sacrés as the fruit of false pretensions. This kaleidoscopic variegated book can be read as a coherent answer to the question as to what actually is good poetry. This book has changed Dutch poetry.
In his own time Bacchylides was considered the equal of Pindar, the most famous representative of archaic Greek lyric. Until the publication of the London papyrus in 1897; the study of his work had been largely neglected due to the fact that very little of his poetry had been recovered.
In 1997, the department of Classics of the Vrife Universiteit at Amsterdam organised a colloquium to celebrate the centenary of the publication of the editio princeps. The papers read at this colloquium not only summarize the studies of Bacchylides that have been published over the past hundred years, but they also engage in various new approaches, text-critical, literary and comparative, which will provide a stimulus for future analyses of this highly important Greek poet.
This book is about passages where Pindar uses the future tense with reference to himself or to his song. It addresses the question as to exactly what the function is of the future tense in those passages. This is a vexed problem, which has played a major role in Pindaric criticism for the last decades and which has recently gained relevance for the interpretation of other authors as well. This book offers a detailed examination of all the relevant passages in Pindar, as well as a generous amount of examples from other authors. It takes a firm stand against the communis opinio that first person futures in Pindar merely express a present intention: the so-called “encomiastic” or “performative” future. It demonstrates that the reference to a future moment is relevant in every single instance of a future verb in Pindar and concludes that there is no such thing as an “encomiastic” future. Inhalt: Futures with a text internal reference – Futures referring to a later moment in the ode – “Fictional” futures – Generic futures – Futures with a specific text external reference – The case of Olympian XI – First person futures in Theocritus’ second Idyll & magical texts.
A study of three epinicia of Pindar, which have in common that they celebrate victories of Aeginetan athletes and that they respond to the contemporary political situation in Aegina and to circumstances of the victory. The primary objective of this book is to provide an interpretation of each of the three odes as meaningful, coherent works of the literary art. For each ode, it provides a commentary in which problems of text and interpretation are discussed in detail, a structural and metrical analysis, and an interpretative essay, in which the observations of detail are brought together in order to provide an answer to the question as to how the ode at hand could have functioned as a coherent, meaningful epinicion. The introduction addresses questions of method and provides a description of Pindar’s style.