Nicolaas van Wijk (1880-1941)
Jan Paul Hinrichs
Nicolaas van Wijk (1880-1941) was the founder of Slavic studies in the Netherlands and one of the greatest Slavists in general. This book describes for the first time how a scholar of the Dutch language, whose etymological dictionary of the Dutch language is still considered the best of its kind, was appointed in 1913 to the newly created Chair in Slavic languages at Leiden University and built up a tremendous reputation for himself in Eastern Europe. Van Wijk’s relations with his famous teacher, the linguist C.C. Uhlenbeck, are followed attentively, as is his postgraduate apprenticeship in Leipzig (1902-1903), where he followed August Leskien’s lectures in Slavic studies. Attention is also paid to the various aspects of Van Wijk’s enormous oeuvre covering the whole field of Slavic studies and of phonology, of which he was one of the pioneers. Van Wijk did not, however, follow the lines approved for the social conduct of a Leiden professor and was at one time suspected by the police of communist activities. His commitment to materially helping all he could from an Eastern Europe torn apart by the First World War and its aftermath was exceptional. His fascination with all things Russian is a background theme that played throughout his life and even at his death: son of a Dutch Reformed minister, the bachelor Van Wijk was buried in a grave surmounted by a Russian Orthodox cross beside his Russian foster son, who died young.
This book is of interest to Slavists, linguists and cultural historians.