LOSS IN MALDEGEM AND JORWERD COUNTRY ‘SITES’ IN CONTEMPORARY DUTCH/FLEMISH LITERATURE

in The New Georgics
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A consideration of the cultural geography of contemporary Dutch/Flemish prose literature reveals that recent social and economic changes in rural life constitute only a minor theme. Explicit concerns about the countryside as landscape are developed in particular by novelist Paul de Wispelaere in a trilogy that appeared between 1976 and 1982, set near the Flemish town of Maldegem, while changes in Dutch rural community life are addressed most prominently by literary journalist Geert Mak in his popular 1996 account of life in the Frisian village of Jorwerd. Both authors structure their narratives around a modernist sense of loss. In so doing, De Wispelaere taps the pastoral tradition while also deploying the novel as a vehicle for cultural critique, whereas Mak, in his effort to capture and elucidate the far-reaching changes in Dutch rural life, relies heavily on literary strategies and ethnographic conventions.

The New Georgics

Rural and Regional Motifs in the Contemporary European Novel

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