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Historians tend to be serious. There is little laughter in the study rooms of the Dutch National Library; in fact, it is strictly forbidden. However, visitors there do not complain about that. After all, they do not go there to entertain themselves. At any rate, that was not my intention a few years ago, on the day when a remarkable seventeenth-century manuscript landed on my desk among some political tracts. The general title Anecdotes turned out to contain a collection of surprisingly coarse jokes. As I read on, I discovered that the author, the little-known poet Aernout van Overbeke, poked fun at all kinds of people in his milieu. That was enough to make me decide to venture further down this side-street.
KeywordsSeventeenth Century Comic Narrative East Indian Company Study Room Loan Word
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