Bruges-la-Morte: Georges Rodenbach (Dedalus European Classics)

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9781903517826: Bruges-la-Morte: Georges Rodenbach (Dedalus European Classics)

Bruges-la-Morte, first published in 1892, is one of the great masterpieces of the Symbolist period and of city writing. Rodenbach does for Bruges what Dickens did for London and Meyrink and kafka did for Prague.
Hugues Viane, a widower, has turned to the melancholy, decaying city of Bruges as the ideal location in which to mourn his wife. There he find a suitable haven for the narcissistic perambulations of his inexorably disturbed spirit. The story itself centres on Hugue's obsession with a young dancer whom he believes is the double of his beloved wife.

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Every evening Hugues retraced the same route, following the line of the quais. His gait was uncertain, slightly hunched already, even though he was only forty. But widowhood had brought an early autumn. His hair was receding, with a copious scattering of grey ash. His faded eyes were fixed on a distant point, a very distant point, beyond life itself. And how melancholy Bruges was, too, during those late afternoons! That was how he liked the town! It was for its melancholy that he had chosen it and had gone to live there after the great catastrophe. In those happy times when he was travelling round with his wife, living as his fancy took him, a somewhat cosmopolitan life, in Paris, abroad, by the sea, he had passed through the town with her, but its profound melancholy had not had the power to affect their joy. Later on however, once he was alone, he had remembered Bruges and had immediately and instinctively known he must settle there. A mysterious equation gradually established itself. He needed a dead town to correspond to his dead wife. His deep mourning demanded such a setting. Life would only be bearable for him there. It was instinct that had brought him here. He would leave the world elsewhere to its bustle and buzz, to its glittering balls, its welter of voices. He needed infinite silence and an existence that was so monotonous it almost failed to give him the sense of being alive. In the presence of physical pain, why must we keep silent, tread softly in a sickroom? Why do noises, voices, seem to disturb the dressing and reopen the wound? Those suffering from mental anguish can be hurt by noise too. In the muted atmosphere of the waterways and the deserted streets, Hugues was less sensitive to the sufferings of his heart, his thoughts of his dead wife were less painful. He had seen her, heard her again more clearly, finding the face of his departed Ophelia as he followed the canals, hearing her voice in the thin, distant song of the bells. In this way the town, once beautiful and beloved too, embodied the loss he felt. Bruges was his dead wife. And his dead wife was Bruges. The two were united in a like destiny. It was Bruges-la-Morte, the dead town entombed in its stone quais, with the arteries of its canals cold once the great pulse of the sea had ceased beating in them.

Review:

This is a book which is not only richly, almost oppressively, atmospheric: it is about atmosphere, about how a city can be a state of mind as well as a geographical entity. It has its shocks and its melodrama: but it is a haunting, and a haunted work.." Nick Lezard inThe Guardian

" a Symbolist vision of the city that lays the way for Aragon and Joyce, and a macabre story of obsessive love and transfiguring horror .This is a little masterpiece." Scotland on Sunday

" The translators remain faithful to the substance and style of the original, and Alan Hollinghurst's introduction is stimulating and heartfelt, explaining Rodenbach's idiosyncrasies without apologizing for them." Daniel Starza-Smith in The Times Literary Supplement

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Book Description DEDALUS LTD, United Kingdom, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Hugues Viane has turned to the melancholy of the decaying city of Bruges as an ideal location in which to mourn the death of his wife. The city becomes the dead image of his dead wife whilst Hugues falls into psychological torment and humiliation, culminating in a deranged murder. Bookseller Inventory # AAO9781903517826

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Book Description Dedalus Limited. Book Condition: New. 2010. 2nd edition. Paperback. Editor(s): Hollinghurst, Alan. Translator(s): Mitchell, Mike (Lecturer in German, University of Stirling). Num Pages: 166 pages, black & white illustrations. BIC Classification: FC. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 127 x 13. Weight in Grams: 186. 166 pages, illustrations. Editor(s): Hollinghurst, Alan. Cateogry: (G) General (US: Trade). BIC Classification: FC. Dimension: 198 x 127 x 13. Weight: 184. Translator(s): Mitchell, Mike (Lecturer in German, University of Stirling). . . . . . Books ship from the US and Ireland. Bookseller Inventory # V9781903517826

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