Villa Des Roses

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Granta, 2003 - Fiction - 142 pages
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The gilt-lettered advertisement outside Madame Brulot's pension in the shabby rue d'Armaille promises a "first-class family boardinghouse." But only one thing is certain about this so-called reputable Parisian pension—few guests emerge from their stay unscathed. First published in 1913, this comic novella helped establish Willem Elsschot—the pseudonym of Alfons de Ridder—as one of the great Dutch writers of the 20th century.

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User Review  - Lunarreader - LibraryThing

Good story but a little bit dated now (1913). Customs, habits and social interaction depicted in a pretty ironic way, not avoiding great taboos of that period. Nice. Read full review



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About the author (2003)

Willem Elsschot is a classic example of a dilettante turned professional writer. He wrote his stories in his spare time while working as an advertising agent in Antwerp. His profession explains the themes of his most successful stories LijmenLijmen (Soft Soap) and Het Been (The Leg), published in 1924 as parts of the same collection of novelettes. Until this time he had never intended to publish anything he wrote and had to be persuaded to do so by the editors of Nieuw Vlaams Tijdschrift, a Flemish journal established to specifically promote the cause of Flemish literature and culture. It is his total lack of interest in anything academic, even literary - he claims never to have read a literary work of art - which lends to Elsschot's work the very fresh and original quality for which it is known. He humorously satirizes the dubious techniques of salespersons in marketing and selling their wares. In addition to his prose works, Elsschot has written some poems which have become a unique part of the Dutch literary heritage.

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