See also: Bruges (homonymy)
Bruges-the-Dead is a novel of the Belgian writer of French expression Georges Rodenbach (1855 - 1898), considered as a chief of work of the symbolism, initially published in serial in the columns of the Figaro of the 4 to the February 14th 1892, then in in June volume of the same year, at Flammarion.
This work, whose central figure is the town of Bruges itself, will gain a great success, making its author famous of the day at the following day, and will contribute largely to famous of the Flemish city.
But to have described Bruges under a nostalgic aspect and to have conducted campaign against the project of Bruges-port of sea, or Zeebrugge, Georges Rodenbach is always persona non grata in its town of election.
Born with Turned, in Wallonia, declining of the Flemish topics in French language, like Verhaeren, Georges Rodenbach, first Belgian writer to succeed with Paris, announces all contradictions of the current Belgium. His/her cousin, the poet Albrecht Rodenbach was besides one of the cantors of a nationalist Flanders in process of emancipation.
The warningIn the warning placed at the head of its book, written Rodenbach: In this passion study, we also wanted and mainly to evoke a City, the City like an essential character, associated with the states of heart, which advises, dissuades, determines to act. Thus, in reality, this Bruges, that it rained us to elect, appears almost human… Ascending is established of it on those which remain there. It works them according to its rites and its bells. Here what we wished to suggest: the City directing an action; its urban landscapes, either only like backdrops, descriptive topics a little arbitrarily selected, but related to the event even of the book. This is why it is important, since these decorations of Bruges collaborate in the adventures, to reproduce them also here, inserted between the pages: quays, deserted streets, old residences, channels, béguinage, churches, goldsmithery of the worship, belfry, so that those which will read us are subject to also the presence and the influence of the City, test the contagion of better close water, feel in their turn the shade of the high towers lengthened on the text.
Summary of workUnoccupied, solitary, Hugues Viane, a forty year old widower, whose widowhood was like an early autumn, spends all his days in his room, a vast part on the first floor, whose windows give on the quay of the Rosary, in Bruges. He settled in the Flemish city five years before, after death, with the threshold of about thirty, of his wife, after ten years of happiness, of which he does not manage to comfort himself. He reads a little - reviews, of old books -, smokes much and dreamed in front of the opened window, lost in his memories.
Hugues Viane leads to Bruges with Barbe, his pious maidservant, a calm and withdrawn life, carefully cultivating his pain and his memories. He does not manage to be done with his widowhood, repeating himself with itself: “Widowed! To be widowed! I am the widower! ”, irremediable and short word, of only one syllable, without echo, odd word and which indicates the odd being well. It is certainly not by chance that it chose this city. Main character and omnipresent, the city joins his sorrow, being assimilated even to the dead wife: “ With the dead wife was to correspond a dead city. Its deep mourning required such a decoration ”.
Hugues leaves each evening for a walk in the city, always starting again the same route, following the line of the quays, of an undecided walk, a little arched already, his faded eyes looking at far, very far, beyond the life. And as Bruges also is sad in these ends of the afternoon, it likes it thus.
One evening, however, while leaving Notre-Dame, where it enjoys to often come, because of her funeral character - there are everywhere, on the walls, on the ground, of the tumulary flagstones with death's-heads, notched names, inscriptions also corroded like stone lips -, Hugues, sadder than ever, who, usually, notices hardly the passers by, if rare besides, an agitation tests undergoes by seeing an unknown young woman arriving towards him. At its sight, it stops Net, like fixed, then, after one moment of hesitation, giving up the quay which it descended, it is suddenly put to follow it through the embrumé maze of the streets of Bruges. Almost alarming miracle of a resemblance which goes until the identity, it finds his wife died in the unknown factor. And all - its walk, its size, the rate/rhythm of its body, the expression of its features, the interior dream of the glance - restores the alive image of that to him which he liked.
But, going like a sleepwalker, always following the unknown factor, automatically, without knowing why and reflecting more, it ends up losing sight of the fact it to a crossroads, where several directions tangle up. Hugues keeps this meeting a great disorder. Now, when he thinks of his wife, it is the unknown factor of the other evening which he re-examines; it is its alive memory, specified. It seems to him the dead more resembling.
Hugues Viane would like to re-examine the unknown factor. He is inserted in the died streets, the tortuous lanes, hoping to see it emerging, abrupt, with some angle of a crossroads. This waiting lasts one week, and Monday - the same day precisely that the first meeting - it re-examines it, which advances towards him, of the same balanced walk. It follows it to the Theater, where it sees it entering, but loses it again. Hoping to find it in the public, it buys a place to attend the representation, but he does not find it, very not disconcerted, anxious, sad, starting to regret its unwise action. Hugues ends up discovering, at the end of the part, when, after the scene of the Nuns, in a decoration of cemetery, Helena becomes animated on his tomb and, rejecting shroud and froc, ressuscite, that its unknown factor it is it. He knows his name: Jane Scott, which is reproduced in the high-speed motorboat on the poster. It resides at Lille, coming twice per week, with the troop of which it forms part, to give representations to Bruges.
Hugues Viane, seeking in the face of the actress the figure of the dead, re-examines it, converses with it. The magic spell of the resemblance operates. It will often visit it, each time she plays, awaiting it the hotel where she goes down. During long minutes, it looks at it, with a painful joy, storing its lips, its hair, its dye, transferring them with the wire of its stagnant eyes. To also deceive itself with its voice, it lowers sometimes the eyelids, it listens to it speech, it drinks this sound, almost identical to mistake there, except by moment a little silencing device, a little wadding on the words. It is as if the old one spoke behind a hanging.
Hugues Viane becomes the lover of Jane. By looking at it, he thinks of the dead, the kisses, the interlacings of at one time. He hopes for reposséder the other, by having this one. And it would not even mislead the Wife, since it is her still that he would like in this effigy and that he would kiss on this mouth such as his. But, the austere city reproaches him its connection…
Hugues installs Jane in a laughing house which it rented for it with the length of a walk which leads to suburbs of greenery and mills. At the same time, it decided it to leave the theater. It is given up from now on with enivrement this resemblance of Jane to the dead, as formerly it was exaltait with the resemblance of itself to the city. Its love of formerly which seems so far and out of the attack, Jane returned to him. How its life had changed! It is not sad any more. It does not have any more this impression of loneliness in an immense vacuum.
Jane would like to see the house of Hugues, because it for a certain time decided to inherit it. At the time of a religious procession, which will pass under its windows, it is invited to dine at his place. When Jane sees the always preserved braid of the died woman, it takes it, laughing and puts it around its neck.
Hugues shouted: " Return to me! return to me! … " Jane ran, on the left, on the right, whirling around the table. Hugues in the wind of this race, under this laughter, these sarcastic remarks lost the head. He reached it. (...) Jane did not laugh any more. It had pushed a small cry, a sigh as the breath of an expired ball with water flower. Strangled, it fell.
TopicsThe expensive one disappeared or the myth from Eurydice.
- Full text of Bruges-the-Dead
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