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Aan rozen denk ik in de winter

Een biografie van C.O. Jellema
PhD ceremony:Mr G.H. (Gerben) Wynia
When:March 10, 2022
Supervisors:prof. dr. G.J. Dorleijn, prof. dr. J.W. (Hans) Renders
Where:Academy building RUG
Aan rozen denk ik in de winter

My biographical research into the life and work of C.O. Jellema (1936-2003) has two central themes: the development of his poetry and the struggle with his homosexuality.

The former theme is discussed in the context of Jellema's time and in relation to his work as a translator and reviewer. After his debut in 1961 was the process of gaining  recognition extremely difficult. Nevertheless he continued to write, because poetry was of existential importance to him. But in 1981 he was back at Querido and he broke through with The Scissors of Forgetting. Many leading critics initially would have little to do with his poems. After 1981, as a poet, he gradually received the attention that had long been awaited. He also made a name for himself as a translator of the work of poets such as Rilke and Hölderlin, but above all of Meister Eckhart and Johannes Tauler. The ideas of these German mystics influenced not only Jellema's attitude to life, but also his poetics. Homosexuality was another important theme in Jellema's life. From the moment he realized he was homosexual, he tried to shape what he called his homosexual way of life. There was a conflict between homosexual desires on the one hand and heterosexual norms and the expectations of parents, family on the other. Jellema explored the Amsterdam gay scene, made several male friendships and committed himself to gay emancipation.

This biography shows the discrepancy between a materially easy existence and a life dominated by uncertainties and fears.