About Movement of Eighties (Tachtigers)

The Tachtigers (“Eightiers”), otherwise known as the Movement of Eighty (Dutch: Beweging van Tachtig), were a radical and influential group of writers who interacted and worked together in Amsterdam in the 1880s, many of whom are still widely read today.

Original photo: Willem Witsen

The Tachtigers were named so simply because they became active around the year 1880. The movement was based on revolt against what the Tachtigers perceived as the formalistic and overly wrought style of mainstream literature in their day, particularly as favored by the predominant literary journal in Amsterdam, De Gids (The Guide). The Tachtigers instead insisted that style must match content, and that intimate and visceral emotions can only be expressed using an intimate and visceral writing style. For guidance in this effort, they tended to draw inspiration from Shakespeare, and from the then recent Impressionist painters and Naturalist writers. Their presence was not always welcome in the traditional edition of ‘De Gids’. That is why they started ‘De Nieuwe Gids’ (The New Guide) to publish their works.

There was a close relationship with the art of painting because painter and photographer Willem Witsen connected the writers with painters like George Breitner, Isaac Israëls and Jacobus van Looy. Witsen was the social center of the Tachtigers. He helped financially, always had an open house and acted as a social assistance service, especially for the capricious Kloos. He was also the one who took a lot of photos as a photographer.

Original photo: Willem Witsen

Around 1885 passion had an authentic reason for existence. Willem Kloos, Lodewijk van Deyssel, Albert Verwey, Herman Gorter, Frederik van Eeden, Frank van der Goes and Willem Witsen started, inspired by Multatuli and Busken Huet, to attack the lack of passion and the Dutch cosiness as they found it in the work by Nicolaas Beets, JJL ten Kate, De Génestet and J.P. Hasebroek.

The Tachtigers had four slogans:
> “Art pour l Art”,
> “Form and content are one”,
> “Poetry is the most individual expression of the most individualistic emotion” and
> “Art is passion.”