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Herman Gorter

Herman Gorter in 1926

Herman Gorter (26 November 1864, Wormerveer – 15 September 1927, Sint-Joost-ten-Node, Brussels) was a Dutch poet and socialist. He was a leading member of the Tachtigers, a highly influential group of Dutch writers who worked together in Amsterdam in the 1880s, centered on De Nieuwe Gids (The New Guide).


Gorter's first book, a 4,000 verse epic poem called Mei (May), sealed his reputation as a great writer upon its publication in 1889, and is regarded as the pinnacle of Dutch Impressionist literature. Gorter rapidly followed this up with a book of short lyric poetry simply called Verzen (Verses) in 1890, which, after initial bad reviews, was equally hailed as a masterpiece.

Initially Gorter was oriented towards the philosophy of Spinoza, whose major work Ethica he translated from Latin into Dutch (published in 1895) [1]. At the end of the century, he developed an interest in leftist politics, which he shared with most of the Tachtigers, and became the most politically involved of this group, becoming an active writer on socialist theory. He joined the Social Democratic Labour Party (Sociaal-Democratische Arbeiderspartij or SDAP) in 1897. In 1909 he participated in a schism from the SDAP to form the Social-Democratic Party (Sociaal-Democratische Partij) of the Netherlands. In 1912 he wrote a massive new epic poem called Pan, describing a great war, which was followed by a global socialist revolution. In 1917, he hailed the Russian Revolution as the beginning of that global revolution, although he soon afterward came to oppose Vladimir Lenin.

In 1918 the Social-Democratic Party changed its name to the Communist Party of Holland (Communistische Partij Holland), and in 1919 Gorter left the party. In 1921 he was a founding member of the Communist Workers Party of Germany, joining its Essen Faction and becoming a leading supporter of the Communist Workers International. Gorter died in Brussels in 1927.[2]


  1. ^ publ. Loman en Funke, The Hague, 1895
  2. ^ "The Dutch and German Communist Left (1900–68)" (PDF).

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