Anna Blaman

And the making of a book about her…

Slowly but surely I’ve been sucked in to this new project. I was asked if I would be interested to work on a comic or graphic novel featuring Anna Blaman, a Dutch writer who wrote until she died in 1960. Wikipedia says her most notable work is Op Leven en Dood (1954) which was translated as A matter of life and death in 1974. Here in the Netherlands her book Eenzaam Avontuur (1948) lead to a bizarre media circus. As a ‘stunt’ for the annual Dutch Week of the Book Eenzaam avontuur would be mock trailed before an audience. At first she was willing to come and defend her work, but when word reached her that the ‘prosecutor’ was out to get her personally, she didn’t show up. A wise decision. Even the media was appalled by the ‘trail’. All this attention made her book a bestseller.

Anna Blaman was an important writer, not only because she wrote beautiful and remarkable books but also because in a time this was still a taboo she gave (a) lesbian love a part in the lives of her characters. As it was part of her life. She was lesbian. She didn’t hide it, she didn’t make a big deal out of it, she was who she was.

Anna Blaman drawing by Gemma Plum
Anna Blaman Photo by Mieke H. Hille (cropped)

Photo by Mieke H. Hille, 1959
Sketch by Gemma Plum, 2018

Anna Blaman on being yourself

Which translates as something like this:

“I swear, I whispered to myself, that for the rest of my life as pure and brave as possible I will try to be myself… Furthermore I will never get in the way of others in their turn being themselves… That was a tremendous important decision… As I understand it now, it is and will be till my dying breath, a very hard thing to do.” Anna Blaman (from: My own me)

(A quote I found in the book Langoureus Verlangen about Anna Blaman’s influence on female writers of this era. Published in 2010 by Ex-exuitgevers and Stichting Ihlia.)

A lot of her books can be found in Dutch as free e-pubs on the site of the Digital Library of Dutch Literature. I’ve been reading all of her work and was amazed. I love her language, I love how she handles perspective, how she changes it in the middle of a scene and takes you from one life into the next. I love her short stories. I love her view on life. I love her persona… and I’d love to make a book about her.

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