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Simon Carmiggelt (1913 - 1987) Dutch author

Simon Johannes Carmiggelt, born October 7, 1913 in The Hague, is one of Holland's best known authors. Directly after World War II the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool published his daily column called 'Kronkels' (Dutch for twists, particularly those of the mind in this case) for years. These stories made him popular among a huge audience and were later on collected in bestselling volumes like Kroeglopen.

In his sober, short stories, Carmiggelt showed a deep compassion for human weaknesses and vulnerability. His style is characterized by a profound use of understatement. He's a brilliant depictor of daily life scenery with a keen eye for the ordinary things that make life special. Carmiggelt received several important Dutch literary prizes, including the Constantijn Huygens Prize (1961) and the PC Hooft Prize (1974).

Young Simon Carmiggelt was not a good student at all, standing in the shadow of his brother Jan, who performed extremely well at school. He started writing short poems at the age of ten. The adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Nick Carter inspired Simon to write a story (Het Geheim van Waringstate - The Secret of Waringstate), which was read to his classmates by his teacher. He would later remember this as "a frightening experience".

Around the age of 14, he became an editor for a schoolpaper that covered multiple educational institutions in The Hague. His style resembled that of influential Low Countries author of the time Herman Heijermans. Dropping out of high school, Carmiggelt decided to become a journalist. In 1932, he was appointed the youngest reporter of social democratic daily newspaper Het Volk.

After a while Carmiggelt got to write little columns under the title Kleinigheden (Trifles), gathered in a book called Vijftig dwaasheden (Fifty follies) in 1940. Soon after, the nazi's took over Het Volk and Carmiggelt left the paper. Brother Jan died in a German internment camp in 1943, which would have a great impact on Simon, who moved to Amsterdam with his wife and children in 1944. He would live in the Dutch capital for the rest of his life.

During the war, Carmiggelt worked for underground newspaper Het Parool, which continued legally after the war with Simon as head of the art section. His ironic reviews caused much disturbance in the theatre world. More successful was his compilation Honderd dwaasheden (One hundred follies), that had to be reprinted a couple of times. Because of the popularity, he was asked by Het Parool to write a daily column, using the pseudonym Kronkel. Regularly, books with his short stories were published throughout the years.

His book Poespas about cats earned him his first big prize (awarded by the Jan Campertstichting) in 1952, followed by the prestigious Constantijn Huygens Prize in '61 for his entire oeuvre. His secret relationship with fellow author Renate Rubinstein started in 1977. One day after his 70th birthday, on October 8, 1983, Carmiggelt wrote his last of approximately 8700 Kronkels. He survived a heart attack, but on November 30, 1987, a second one proved to be fatal.

The next year, a statue of Simon Carmiggelt was erected before his house in Amsterdam. His wife Tiny died in 1990; three months later Renate Rubinstein committed suicide. Her book Mijn beter ik (The better me) about her relationship with Carmiggelt, was published in 1991, destroying Carmiggelt's image of the wise and easy-going spectator. Mijn beter ik revealed his unknown ill-tempered side, his growing sarcasm towards mankind and his profound pessimism.

An extensive bibliography of Carmiggelt prose:

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