‘Het geringe nut van fictie in tijden van nood’: Nederlandse schrijvers over klimaat

Translated title of the contribution: 'The little use of fiction in times of need': Dutch writers on climate

S.M. van Herten*, E.H.R. Duyvendak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Much is expected of literary writers in relation to the climate crisis. Through their work, they would make readers more aware of the relationship between human activity and climate change as well as the effects of global warming. In recent years, a significant number of literary works that address climate change were published in Dutch language. In this article, we analyse six contemporary Dutch and Flemish novels (from the authors Verbeke, Dorrestein, Meijer, Weijts, Van Dis, Godijn) that feature a writer as a main character. This form of metafiction allows writers to reflect on engagement and authorship.
During our analyses, four themes emerged: 1) mitigation and adaptation, 2) guilt, 3) politics, and 4) relationships. Furthermore, we noticed a dichotomy. The four self-begetting novels focus on dealing with the consequences of climate change (adaptation) in the Netherlands. The two other novels are not self-begetting, but do feature writers that reflect on writing and the climate crisis. These novels are more globally orientated and centralize the causes of climate change. This allows them to relate to guilt and ways to limit further damage (mitigation). At the end, we formulate suggestions for further research.
Translated title of the contribution'The little use of fiction in times of need': Dutch writers on climate
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)56-76
Number of pages21
JournalInterférences littéraires/Literaire interferenties
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • climate fiction
  • metafiction
  • engagement
  • presentday dutch/flemish literature


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