Book: Van Loon’s Lives (Hardcover)


Van Loon’s Lives

Hardcover Edition.

by Hendrik Willem van Loon

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Van Loon’s Lives – (Hardcover)

by Hendrik Willem van Loon

This book is a classic in hardcover with the original dust cover included. The book has original sketches  & there are only 6 in print worldwide.

Van Loon’s Lives is a book by the Dutch-American writer Hendrik Willem van Loon published in 1942. Its full title, deliberately written in a manner already archaic at the time of writing, is Van Loon’s Lives: Being a true and faithful account of several highly interesting meetings with certain historical personages, from Confucius and Plato to Voltaire and Thomas Jefferson, about whom we had always felt a great deal of curiosity and who came to us as dinner guests in a bygone year.

Loosely based on the classical Plutarch’s Lives, it recounts the biographies of various famous historical characters, and like Plutarch often pairs together characters from different times and places whose lives, careers or personalities seemed to Van Loon to bear a similarity to each other (e.g. William the Silent and George Washington who led the Wars of Independence of their respective countries; the philosophers Descartes and Emerson; Empress Theodora of Byzantium and Queen Elizabeth I of England; Torquemada and Robespierre, of both of whom Van Loon had less than a flattering view…).

In the book, the author imagines he is living in his summer home in the town of Veere on the island of Walcheren in the Dutch province of Zealand. He can summon the famous (and sometimes infamous) great men and women of history to come to dinner. The summoning is done in the prosaic way of leaving under a specific stone a note with the names of the persons they wish to meet that weekend, who duly make their appearance.