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Biography Boudewijn Büch

After the death of writer Boudewijn Büch in 2002 many have tried to capture the life of this striking personality. Countless books, newspaper articles, and television programs have been dedicated to bibliophile Boudewijn, the poet Boudewijn, collector Boudewijn, Boudewijn who grew up in Wassenaar, Boudewijn the Goethe devotee, the fallen communist, the gay who was straight, the friend of… Most attention by far was paid to Boudewijn Büch the master of deceit, the man who needed more than reality alone and who therefore created a parallel universe.
  The abundant attention which was devoted to his many mystifications eclipsed the perception of the person Boudewijn Büch and of his tumultuous career. That is a shame, as he left a collection of unusual poems, several moving books and countless unequalled coverages, which introduced a broad audience to the most remote corners of the world. Not in the least Büch knew how to convey his inexhaustible enthusiasm for books. As a weekly guest in the talk show of Frits Barend and Henk van Dorp for instance, he arose the curiosity of the Dutch for long forgotten novels and authors.
  After Büch’s death however, hardly any attention was paid to the role he had played within the Dutch cultural field the previous twenty years. The literary establishment considered him little more than a rascal who read a book or two. However, in retrospect he proves to be exemplary for the changing beliefs regarding taste in the last quarter of the twentieth century, when the traditional distinction between high and low art began to fade. In an infectious way Büch showed that a person does not need to be a stuffy professor in order to love history or poetry. He was a cultural omnivore, who started his career as a poet and wound up to be a television personality. In the period between he worked as passionately on columns for Playboy and Nieuwe Revue as he did on articles on Rimbaud for a quality news paper as NRC Handelsblad. The one day he would write about major authors in literary journal Maatstaf, the next he would throw new publications he disliked around the studio of his television program Büch’s books. At least as poignant was the contrast between the introspection of his own novels and the philosophical thoroughness of Goethe’s work, whom he greatly admired. It was exactly his versatility and the range of media Büch used to ventilate his preferences, through which he managed to revive interest in literature, history and poetry among a broad and young audience.

Interview Wim Brands, VPRO, 7 April 2014

Review Christiaan Weijts, De Groene Amsterdammer, 23 november 2016

Last modified:09 January 2017 5.14 p.m.
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