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Saturday, 20 October 2012

Hans Warren, Dutch poet, writer and literary critic

.b. October 20, 1921
d. December 18, 2001

Johannes Adrianus Menne Warren was a Dutch writer, much of whose fame in the Netherlands derived from a collection of diaries, published under the title, "Geheime Dagboek (Secret Diary)" in which he described his early life and homosexual experiences, with a frank account of his awakening as a homosexual in the countryside, his tempestuous relations with his mostly North African lovers and with his wife, who gave birth to several children. He also explains his divorce and the start of a new life, first living alone, later with his lover Mario.

He is also renowned for a fictionalised account of these early years, describing what it was like to be both Jewish and gay in the Netherlands under the Nazi occupation, in "Secretly Inside".

The publication of his series of diaries caused some concern among Warren's friends and colleagues: as the title implies, the diaries are quite frank. Warren openly describes his own life and experiences, and offers his opinions on everyone, including his friends. The twentieth volume covered the years 1996 to 1998, with one more volume to be published.

In 1952 he married an English woman, and they had three children. Soon after their marriage his wife was offered a position in Paris, where Warren's repressed homosexual feelings found an outlet in many contacts with North African boys. Although this created tension in his marriage, it also sparked his poetic career: Warren published three collections of poetry during his years in Paris, and the marriage, in the end, lasted until 1978.

In 1958 the family returned to Zeeland, and Warren produced little writing until the end of the 1960s, when the publishing company Bert Bakker published a collection of new poems by Warren, Tussen hybris en vergaan. In 1969 Warren met Gerrit Komrij and the two poets began a long and mutually inspiring friendship. During the next ten years, Warren published a new book of poetry every year.

In 1978 Warren met Mario Molegraaf, forty years his junior (Warren was 57 at that time). The two began a tumultuous love affair that lasted until Warren's death. Molegraaf was a talented writer himself, and together they published a number of translations: the entire work of Constantine P. Cavafy, several poems by George Seferis, works by Plato and Epicurius, and the four gospels.

From 1985 until 2002, Meulenhoff published a Warren calendar with a poem each day. Together with Molegraaf, Warren published several popular poetry anthologies.

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