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Looking for Belgian Literature Classics


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#1 Ostrich

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 01:37 AM

If there are any Belgian literature fans around here, please could you advise me on recommended Belgian classics. Even children's books are fine for a start. I don't really speak Belgian, but I do speak Afrikaans (the world's youngest language - a variant of Dutch) and I find that I can read Belgian very easily (more so than Dutch). My only problem is, I don't have a clue where to start!

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 25 September 2004 - 06:33 PM

We actually have a couple of posters from Belgium -- I'm going to post a link to this post in the company forum and see if I can entice anyone over!

#3 Herman Stevens

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Posted 26 September 2004 - 08:09 AM

If you're talking about Flemish writers I think Hugo Claus and The Sorrow of Belgium or something along those lines, would be a good start.

#4 Marjolein

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Posted 27 September 2004 - 03:10 AM

Here are some Flemish classics:
"De leeuw van Vlaanderen" (The Lion of Flanders) by Hendrik Conscience
"Pallieter" by Felix Timmermans
"Pieter Daens" by Louis Paul Boonis (a true story which will teach you a lot about Flemish history)
anything written by Hugo Claus

Some more authors:
Cyriel Buysse
Jef Geeraerts
Stijn Streuvels

If you like poetry:
Guido Gezelle
Paul Snoeck
Paul Van Ostaijen

These are all rather old books and writers, if you want some more recent literature, here's some names:
Tom Lanoye
Kristien Hemmerechts
Pieter Aspe

I can't of any other names right now (I read mostly American and English books), but I hope this helps.

#5 Ostrich

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Posted 30 September 2004 - 10:17 AM

Thanks, that helps a lot! I'm quite happy to with older writers - I like going through my classics systematically.

#6 klingsor

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Posted 12 October 2004 - 09:47 AM

I sent this thread to a Belgian internet friend of mine on a Hockey
MessageBoard. Here's his response:

I could make a few suggestions, based on what the person prefers to read.

There's not too many authors I really like, I prefer the great modernists and it seems like we skipped that movement a bit in Belgium.


My favorite would be Willem Ellschot (who hasn't been mentioned yet in the thread) who was an early twentieth century writer who hasn't written a whole lot (complete works around 900 pages) but is really worth checking out if one likes irony (he used his own experiences as a basis for his writings, but he uses it in an ironic way, truly remarkable).
The best thing about him is that he writes in a very simple language while still producing some of the greatest literature in Flemish history (think Kafka like language, short, clear sentences, even though the atmosphere is nowhere near as haunting).

Recommended works would be 'Lijmen - Het Been' and 'Kaas'.  All are very short but very rewarding once you start to understand a bit how it works.


Hugo Claus has been mentioned in the thread, "Het Verdriet Van BelgiŽ" - "The Sorrow of Belgium" is probably the greatest book written in Belgium in this century but it's not an easy one, and it requires some background knowledge of Claus as a person and Belgium as a whole during WWII.


Louis Paul Boon has also been mentioned, another great writer who found a lot of inspiration in the social injustice he saw during his time. 

Those are really the three greats IMO.

There are others worth mentioning, (see the thread, Streuvels, Walschap, Buysse (playwright), Timmermans (whom I personally detest).




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