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Would you like to see the original manuscripts of authors Hendrik Conscience, Paul van Ostaijen and Willem Elsschot? Visit the Letterenhuis (House of Literature) and find out more about the history of Flemish literature.
Literary history at the Letterenhuis
In its permanent exhibition, the Letterenhuis tells a story about Flemish literature in the 19th and 20th centuries. The museum invitingly opens the door to the vast collections of letters, diaries and manuscripts.
Not only can you set off in search of the great stories, but you can also discover the smaller stories about how literature is created, how a text is refined and polished and how differences of opinion occur.
But you will not just discover how writers set to work and how literary texts are created. The Letterenhuis also tells the story of a changing world and how literature relates to that. Both what is happening in a writer’s immediate surroundings and everything going on in the wider world can be a source of inspiration. The Letterenhuis tells stories about the relationship between literature and reality, about art and involvement, about tradition and innovation, about protest and avant-garde ideas, and about old and new values.
In the Letterenhuis you can view a choice selection from the vast collection of manuscripts.
There is the manuscript of Paul van Ostaijens’s charming poem ‘Marc groet ‘s morgens de dingen’ and there are also the manuscripts of dozens of other older and more modern classic Flemish texts, including De Kapellekensbaan by Louis Paul Boon, Kaas by Willem Elsschot and Ten oorlog by Tom Lanoye. There are also many others, by such writers as Guido Gezelle, Karel van de Woestijne, Hendrik Conscience, Cyriel Buysse, Jef Geeraerts and Herman de Coninck, for example.
Of course, there is much more to discover than just manuscripts and letters. Beautiful photos, posters, paintings and sculptures provide a fresh view of both well-known and lesser-known artists. And image and sound fragments bring Flemish writers to life.
The emphasis of the exhibition is on the post WW II period. A story about form experiment, protest movements and literature is told using the work of, among others, Ivo Michiels, Hugo Claus, Paul Snoek, Walter van de Broeck, Leonard Nolens, Kristien Hemmerechts, Lieve Joris, Paul Mennes, Tom Lanoye and Peter Verhelst.
The Letterenhuis offers a general view of Flemish literature, from Conscience’s notes for De Leeuw van Vlaenderen to the literature of the digital era.