The sorrow of Belgium

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Pantheon Books, 1990 - Fiction - 608 pages
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A classic novel in the tradition of The Tin Drum, The Sorrow of Belgium is a searing, scathingly funny portrait of a wartime Belgium and one boy's coming of age -- emotionally, sexually, and politically. In 1939, Louis Seynaeve, a ten-year-old Flemish student, is chiefly occupled with schoolboy adventures and lurid adolescent fantasies. Then the Nazis invade Belgium, and he grows up fast. Bewildered by his family -- a stuffy father who actually welcomes the occupation and a flirtatious mother who works for (and plays with) the Germans -- he is seemingly at the center of so much he can't understand. Gradually, as he confronts the horrors of the war and its aftermath, the eccentric and often petty behavior of his colorful relatives and neighbors, and his own inner turmoil, he achieves a degree of maturity -- at the cost of deep disillusion. Epic in scope, by turns hilarious and elegiac, The Sorrow of Belgium is the masterwork by one of the world's greatest contemporary authors. Book jacket.

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Contents

the mizzlers
49
martyrs
57
w all e
65
Copyright

15 other sections not shown

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About the author (1990)

Author and artist Hugo Claus was born in Bruges, Belgium in 1929. While in Paris, in his early twenties, he explored surrealism, existentialism, and modernism as a member of the Cobra group of experimentalist artists. Later in Rome he concerned himself with filmmaking and actually produced a film called Friday for which he wrote the script himself. He can be regarded as the primary developer of a technique which has become known as intertextuality. Its application in The Sign of the Hamster led to accusations of plagiarism, an accusation which many critics rejected because of the recognizability of the references which vary from the classics to the Middle Ages and his own time. He gained recognition as painter, poet, playwright, filmmaker, and writer of classical, psychological, modernist, and experimentalist novels. His best known work is The Sorrow of Belgium. The book consists of two parts, the first strongly autobiographic, situated in a Roman Catholic boarding school in Belgium, from which Louis, the protagonist, is expelled. The second part describes the experiences of a large number of people, including Louis's mother and father, during and shortly after World War II. He was charged with blasphemy for the play Masscheroen because of his irreverent representation of the Holy Trinity on the stage. This charge and the possibility of plagiarism identify Claus as a controversial writer. He died by euthanasia in Antwerp, Belgium on March 19, 2008.

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