Autonomy Proliferates - Autonomie bloeit


  • Andrew Goldstone


Autonomy, Historicism, Modernism, Pierre Bourdieu, W.F. Hermans / autonomie, historicisme, modernisme, W.F. Hermans


In this article, I present a survey of the arguments put forward in the other articles in this special issue. I argue that literary autonomy is not a unitary phenomenon but highly variable according to context. Some writers consider autonomy to be essential to the nature of literature properly understood. But autonomy has a history, changing as writers choose new bases for their claims to independence or experience different forms of constraint. Even the strongest claims for literature’s ontological autonomy are often oriented to particular literary modes, especially those of twentieth-century experimental modernism. To exemplify the proliferating variety of autonomy, I use the theories of Pierre Bourdieu and Pascale Casanova to address W.F. Hermans’s Beyond Sleep. Hermans ironically registers the difference the position of the Netherlands in the world-literary system makes to that novel’s invocations of the ideal of autonomy.


How to Cite

Goldstone, A. (2015). Autonomy Proliferates - Autonomie bloeit. Journal of Dutch Literature, 6(1). Retrieved from