College of Liberal Arts

Department of English


J. P. Vander Motten
"Poe and the Belgian Aesthetic Movement"

For almost half a century, Belgian literature was largely dominated by middle-class concerns, celebrating and legitimizing as it did the sense of nationalistic pride that developed after the country gained its independence in 1830. The closing two decades of the nineteenth century, however, witnessed an artistic revival on both sides of the language border. A new generation of young writers, both Flemish and francophone, sought to create an art that would be free from all economic and political preoccupations. This renaissance in arts and letters found statement in the many new journals entirely or partly dedicated to the cause of "belles-lettres," and nowhere more prominently so than in the monthly La Jeune Belgique [Young Belgium] (1881-97), which became the mouthpiece par excellence of the Belgian aesthetic movement. The present article briefly explores the nature and extent of Poe's reputation in Belgium during this period, not just in the pages of LJB and other literary periodicals but in the context of other art forms as well. Publishers such as Edmond Deman, who in 1888 brought out Mallarme's richly ornamented Poemes d'Edgar Poe; painter and etcher James Ensor; and graphic artist Felicien Rops--all of them somehow found inspiration in Poe's tales and poems. The iconographic no less than the literary evidence testifies to the wide acclaim given Poe's works in a country standing in the forefront of modern art around the turn of the century.













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The Poe Studies site is normally maintained by Tanya Gonzales. Please feel free to e-mail comments, queries, and suggestions.

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