Belgium Flemish Literature

Belgian literature, the literary works written in French in Belgium and in Dutch in Flanders (Flemish literature). Walloon literature on literature in Walloon dialect.

Flemish literature is the literature in the Dutch language that originated in Flanders since the 13th century and that gradually developed as an independent variant after the expulsion of the Spaniards (Eighty Years War, 1568–1648) compared to the North Dutch or »Dutch«. As a result, Flemish literature had developed from the second half of the 17th century and BC. a. after the French conquest (1794) to assert against the Frenchization of Flemish life. It was not until the following years of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands (1815-30) that the prestige of Dutch was restored through Wilhelm I’s language policy.

According to best-medical-schools, the romanticism that blossomed after 1830 was dominated by the Flemish Movement. The first generation was v. a. philologically active (J. F. Willems); however, it also included the poets K. L. Ledeganck and Prudent van Duyse (* 1804, † 1859). The second creative generation included H. Conscience, an author of historical novels, as well as the novelist and realist D. Sleeckx, the poet J. M. Dautzenberg and Virginie Loveling (* 1836, † 1923), who wrote realistic poetry with a sentimental undertone. The most important Flemish author of the 19th century is the priest and poet G. P. Gezelle, in whose work observation of nature and religiosity are combined. H. N. Verriest and A. Rodenbach are also important.

The latter three influenced the renewal brought about by the writers of the magazine Van Nu en Straks, founded in 1893. The leaders were A. Vermeylen and the co-founders P. van Langendonck and Emmanuel de Bom (* 1868, † 1953). From a literary point of view, the next generation was more important: the poet K. van de Woestijne, a representative of symbolism; S. Streuvels, author of peasant stories; the impressionist H. Teirlinck, who thematized both rural and urban life. Outside this journal, naturalism (C. Buysse) and regionalism (M. Sabbe; Lode Baekelmans, * 1879, † 1965). Catholic literature had three organs: “Dietsche Warande en Belfort”, “Vlaamsche Arbeid”, “Jong Dietschland” (C. Verschaeve).

The reorientation in the years 1914-30 was not so much visible in the local novels by F. Timmermans or in the folk humorous work of E. A. J. Claes as it was in Expressionism. There were two directions in this, both of which emanated from P. A. van Ostaijen: “humanitarian” expressionism (W. Moens; K. van den Oever; M. Gijsen; Achilles Mussche, * 1896, † 1974) and “organic” expressionism (Victor J. Brunclair, * 1899, † 1944; G. Burssens). Dramatic literature was also renewed (“Het Vlaams Volkstoneel”); Teirlinck wrote for the stage, A. van de Velde, P. de Mont (, * 1857, † 1931) and W. Putman. M. Roelants, Richard Minne (* 1891, † 1965), Raymond Herreman (* 1896, † 1971) and Karel Leroux (* 1895, † 1969) represented an opposite direction to Expressionismin the magazine »’t Fonteintje« (1921– 24).

Around 1930 a new generation spoke up: Pieter Geert Buckinx (* 1903, † 1987), R. Verbeeck, Bert Decorte (* 1915, † 2009) and K. Jonckheere. The renewal of the novel, the v. a. put the inside of the human being in the center, z. B. by the psychologically interested M. Roelants, the vitalist G. Walschap, the socialist L. Zielens, the skeptic R. Brulez, the stylist F. de Pillecyn and W. Elsschot; they were followed by M. Gilliams, Albert van Hoogenbemt (* 1900, † 1964), Norbert Edgard Fonteyne (* 1904, † 1938), A. Demedts.

During the Second World War and after 1945 wrote novels: the ironic M. Gijsen, the Catholics Paul Lebeau (* 1908, † 1982) and Gaston Duribreux (* 1903, † 1986), the “magical realists” J. Daisne and H. L. Lampo and the social realists P. van Akenand L.-P. Boon.

Experimental literature heralded itself in the works of Daisne and Boon. Although the existentialist attitude towards life prevailed in the first post-war years, the poetry soon tied in with surrealism, post-surrealism and, indirectly, with van Ostaijen (H. Claus; Adriaan de Roover, * 1923; Hugues C. Pernath, * 1931, † 1975; Gust Gils, * 1924, † 2002). A new development of the avant-garde was concrete poetry: P. de Vree, M. van Maele.

At the beginning of the 1970s, the neorealists (Roland Jooris, * 1936; Patricia Lasoen, * 1948; H. de Coninck ) prevailed alongside the neo-experimentalists (Leonard Nolens, * 1947).

The direction of the experimental novel, which prefers the technique of the inner monologue and turns away from authorial narration, is represented by: H. Claus, Hugo Raes (* 1929, † 2013), I. Michiels, P. de Wispelaere, René Louis Gysen (* 1927, † 1969), Laurent Veydt (* 1936, † 1992), Daniël Robrechte (* 1937, † 1992) and by the authors of “absolute prose”: Claude C. Krijgelmans (* 1934), Willem M. Roggeman (* 1935), Mark Insingel (* 1935), Claude van de Berge (* 1945) and G. Gils. W. Ruyslinck, B. Kemp, J. Geeraerts, Fernand Auwera (* 1929, † 2015), W. Spillebeen and Frans Depeuter (* 1937) move between tradition and experiment. Rose Gronon (* 1901, † 1979), Maria Rosseels (* 1916, † 2005), J. Vandeloo and Libera Carlier (* 1926, † 2007) write in the traditional way.

In poetry, in addition to the avant-garde already mentioned, there is the traditional poetry by Jozef Lodewijk Frans de Belder (* 1912, † 1981), A. van Wilderode, Hubert van Herreweghen (* 1920) and Christine D’Haen (* 1923, † 2009). Characteristics of both directions can be found in Jos de Haes (* 1920, † 1974), Paul Snoek (* 1933, † 1981), Hedwig Speliers (* 1935) and Willem Maurits Roggeman (* 1935). In the field of drama, H. Claus has a renewing effect, Piet Sterckx (* 1925, † 1987) and Jan Christiaens (* 1929, † 2009) write absurd pieces, Jozef van Hoeck (* 1922, † 1996) and the socially committed WSK van den Broeck represent the tradition, while Tone Brulin (* 1926, † 2019) tries both.

1970 or later debuted as a prose writer: Paul Koeck (* 1940), who writes about problem groups in society; M. van Paemel with feminist writings; the form innovators L. J. T. Pleysier and Lucienne Stassaert (* 1936). The most important authors of the 1980s and 1990s are the poets S. Hertmans , Dirk van Bastelaere (* 1960) and Erik Spinoy (* 1960) as well as the prose writers Kristien Hemmerechts (* 1955), Herman Brusselmans (* 1957), Tom Lanoye (* 1958) and Peter Verhelst (* 1962).

Belgium Flemish Literature