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Willem Elsschot (1882–1960)

Forfatter af En historie om ost

41+ Works 2,835 Members 53 Reviews 39 Favorited

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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 vis mere 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. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre

Værker af Willem Elsschot

En historie om ost (1933) 705 eksemplarer
Lijmen ; Het been (1938) 403 eksemplarer
Verzameld werk (1957) 397 eksemplarer
Villa des Roses (1913) 312 eksemplarer
Het dwaallicht (1969) 218 eksemplarer
Tsjip ; De leeuwentemmer (1934) 113 eksemplarer
Pensioen (1937) 88 eksemplarer
Een ontgoocheling (1921) 80 eksemplarer
Het tankschip (1941) 79 eksemplarer
De verlossing (1921) 75 eksemplarer
Lijmen (1979) 56 eksemplarer
Verzen (1982) 46 eksemplarer
Een ontgoocheling ; Het dwaallicht (1999) 40 eksemplarer
Brieven (1993) 29 eksemplarer

Associated Works

My little war (1947) — Forord, nogle udgaver244 eksemplarer
Bericht aan de reizigers (1975) — Bidragyder — 81 eksemplarer
Dichters van deze tijd (1977) — Bidragyder — 21 eksemplarer
Het gevleugelde hobbelpaard (1961) — Bidragyder — 18 eksemplarer
54 Vlaamse verhalen (1971) — Bidragyder — 17 eksemplarer
Vlaamsche verzen van dezen tijd (1934) — Bidragyder — 5 eksemplarer
Over Multatuli — Bidragyder — 3 eksemplarer
je leest het zó — Bidragyder — 2 eksemplarer

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Almen Viden



Een oeuvre dat, samengevoegd in een verzameld werk van achthonderd bladzijden, bescheiden genoemd mag worden. Overigens hebben de afzonderlijke werken inmiddels menig eindexamenlijst(je) gesierd (en opgevrolijkt).
De Rotterdamse boekhandel Donner bestaat 111 jaar en publiceerde ter gelegenheid hiervan een canon van boeken -per jaar en decennium gerangschikt- die nog steeds beschikbaar en nog gelezen -en verkocht- worden en waarin ook het werk van Willem Elsschot vermeld staat.

Het verzameld werk heeft een aantal weken op de werktafel gelegen en vrijwel ieder dag op een willekeurige plaats opengeslagen en als een soort brevier gelezen. Neem het boek ter hand, sla het open en begin met lezen: na enkele zinnen weet je in welke roman je bent beland en word je weer ondergedompeld in het kenmerkende taalgebruik, herkenbare personages en situaties.

Wat mij betreft: Willem Elsschot “leeft” nog steeds, en de personages uit zijn boeken kunnen heden ten dage je pad nog steeds kruisen!
… (mere)
1 stem
deklerk | 4 andre anmeldelser | Oct 6, 2023 |
A very succinct tragi-comedy; quick to read and enjoyable.
Kimberlyhi | 15 andre anmeldelser | Apr 15, 2023 |
Villa of Characters
Review of the Penguin Modern Classics paperback (1993) translated with an introduction by Paul Vincent of the Dutch language original (1913)

No one had ever come up with an acceptable explanation for the descriptive tag 'des Roses'. True, there was a garden attached to the house, which in itself is quite a rarity in Paris, but since Monsieur and Madame Brulot had moved in - more than sixteen years previously - no one had lifted so much as a finger towards its upkeep, so that all roses and other flowers were things of the past. Moreover, it got very little sun, as the neighbouring houses cast their giant shadows over the whole plot. The only thing able to survive such conditions was the grass, thriving as it does all the more the less it is cared for, and delighting in neglected masonry and incipient ruins.

I had never heard of Belgian writer Willem Ellschot (penname of Alfons de Ridder [1882-1960]) when I was able to borrow a copy of this now out-of-print Penguin Modern Classics edition of his first novella. Granta Books seems to be the only current publisher of Ellschot in English and then only with the two editions of Villa des Roses and his most popular novella Cheese (1933), both in their Paul Vincent translations. Wikipedia says that Cheese is the most translated Flemish novel of all time.

See cover at https://i.pinimg.com/564x/af/9d/c7/af9dc70ffbeb584bcce5c3a4675c5b55.jpg
A particularly colorful book cover of one of the Dutch language editions showing Chico the monkey and Villa des Roses proprietress Madame Brulot. Image sourced from Pinterest.

Villa des Roses presents a motley crew of inhabitants at a somewhat down at its heels boarding house establishment in early 20th century Paris. Ellschot wrote the book in 1910, having based it on his own real-life experiences while working in Paris and living in a similar situation. Monsieur and Madame Brulot preside over their varying clientele with a sliding scale of daily rates, usually based on the ability to pay.

Some of the characters are in quite desperate circumstances though, which they are barely able to conceal from their fellow boarders. The story mostly centres on the seduction of the maid Louise by an unscrupulous German businessman Grünewald, but there is room for some even darker situations as well with the suicidal Monsieur Brizard, the absconding Monsieur Martin and the vengeful kleptomaniac Madame Gendron. In fact some of the scenes and lines here were quite shocking due to their casual delivery. The brutality of one line will likely live in your memory forever once you know the context:

It was a simple funeral: he went to Mrs Wimhurst's pension by a roundabout route and, on the way, in a deserted street, threw the package with the thing in it over a fence.

See DVD cover at https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BNTIzMTU2MjI0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODk1NDAz...
DVD cover for the 2002 film version of "Villa des Roses". Image sourced from IMDb.

Villa des Roses was an insightful portrayal of a variety of character types which encompassed the full spectrum of comedy through to tragedy. My thanks to friend Tony Souza for the loan of this rare book!

Trivia and Links
I highly recommend reading this very informative review by my GR friend Ilse which contains further background on the novel including a link to research about Willem Ellschot's time in Paris.

Villa des Roses was adapted into the English language same-titled film in 2002 directed by Frank van Passel, which starred Julie Delpy as Louise and Shaun Dingwall as Richard Grünewald. There is no trailer on YouTube but you can see the trailer at IMDb. The tone of the trailer leads me to suspect that the movie adaptation plays up the romantic over the comic elements of the book.

Villa des Roses was also adapted as a 3 hour Dutch language TV series in 1989 directed by Marc Lybaert. You can watch the entire 3 hour series in 3 parts on YouTube (but without subtitles) starting with Part 1 here.
… (mere)
alanteder | 5 andre anmeldelser | Aug 6, 2022 |
Er zijn van die momenten waarop je denkt: “nu even het hoofd met wat anders stofferen”.
De ernst van de heersende pandemie maar eens plaats laten maken voor een totaal ander verhaal. En dan blijkt het herlezen van een werk van Elsschot een goede oplossing.
Na eerste lezing -vijftig jaar geleden (!)- is het verhaal nog steeds sprankelend van toonzetting, tovert het een glimlach op je lippen en balsemt het de onrustige geest.
deklerk | 1 anden anmeldelse | Jan 12, 2021 |



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