Hugo Brandt Corstius
Drs. G. Van Buren
Hugo de Torenkraai
Jan Eter jr.
Joop den Uyl
Hugo Brandt Corstius (1935–2014) is a Dutch author known for his achievements in both literature and science. In 1970, he was awarded a PhD on the subject of computational linguistics. He used to work for the Mathematics Centre in Amsterdam. He is mainly known for his writing as columnist for Vrij Nederland and de Volkskrant and as linguist and literary critic for Vrij Nederland, de Volkskrant, and NRC Handelsblad.
Hugo Brandt Corstius has over sixty different pseudonyms, allonyms and aliases; he claims that each one is part of his character. He started his career as a writer under his own name for student magazine ‘Propria Cures’, where he was editor from 1957 tot 1959. For Vrij Nederland he wrote a weekly column under the name Piet Grijs. Between 1979 and 1986 he also wrote for de Volkskrant under the name Stoker. In 2008 after many years his last column as Piet Grijs appeared in Vrij Nederland. Both chief editor Frits van Exter and Brandt Corstius did not comment on whether he had been fired or had quit.
As Piet Grijs he had written a series of attacks on criminologist Wouter Buikhuisen who was conducting brain research trying to link criminality and socio-biological factors. Grijs compared Buikhuisen, who was a newly appointed professor of the University of Leiden, with Joop Glimmerveen, the leader of the extremely right wing ’Nederlandse Volks-Unie’. Grijs made use of ‘argumentum ad hominem’ by using terms such as: ‘he is a bald, impotent career-scientist’, an ‘idiot blinded by his profession’, a ‘fraud’, an ‘opportunist through and through’, and a ‘stupid charlatan’.
Largely owing to these attacks Buikhuisen had to deal with bomb threats, a disrupted oration and death threats. He eventually lost the support of the university. Years later similar research became a widely accepted field of research, however in the scientific climate of the seventies Grijs’ articles gave cause to completely thwart the research and destroy Buikhuisen’s career. Brand Corstius never distanced himself from the articles and in 2009 he declared that he had not at all changed his judgement.
Piet Grijs is equally responsible for columnist Paul Cliteur’s withdrawal from the political debate in 2004. Cliteur was known for his (political) opinion pieces, he wrote columns for Trouw and other newspapers, and had a spoken column on television show Buitenhof; in these columns he expressed his liberal views on the multicultural society and animal rights. In 2004 Cliteur felt increasingly threatened and mentioned the scathing commentaries by Piet Grijs, Marcel van Dam and Thijs Wöltgens as additional reason.
Other pseudonyms Brandt Corstius uses are Victor Baarn, Batticus, Hugo Battus, Dolf Cohen, Maaike Helder, Peter Malenkov en Talisman, not to mention about 60 or 70 other aliases and/or signatures. Two of the books he wrote as Battus are ‘Opperlandse Taal- & Letterkunde’ [Upperlandic Linguistics & Literature] and twenty years later the sequel ‘Opperlans!’ [deliberate misspelling]. These are linguistic books describing the ‘form’ of the Dutch language, without giving heed to the meaning.
In 1985 the cabinet Lubbers refused to award the P.C. Hooft-prize to Hugo Brandt Corstius for his complete essayistic oeuvre, even though the jury had chosen him. The Minister of Culture at the time, Elco Brinkman, refused to award the prize to Brandt Corstius, because of some inappropriate comments about the government and Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers. The jury who had nominated Brandt Corstius protested violently and stepped down and it became a true media riot. As a result of this uproar the prize was not awarded the next two years. The award was downgraded from a national award to ‘normal’ award. In 1987 it was Brandt Corstius who received the first, updated P.C. Hooft-award.
Hugo Brandt Corstius is the father of columnist and writer Aaf Brandt Corstius and journalist and correspondent Jelle Brandt Corstius.
See also Aaf Brandt Corstius.
Beek, M. (2013), ‘Hugo Brandt Corstius’, Schrijversinfo.nl, retrieved 30 July 2013
‘Hugo Brandt Corstius’, Wikipedia, retrieved 30 July 2013
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