Rodenbach, Georges(zhôrzh rôdĕnbäk`), 1855–98, Belgian symbolist poet and novelist. Living in Paris from 1887, he wrote about Flemish life. His works include the poems Le Foyer et les champs (1877), La Jeunesse blanche (1886), and Les Vies encloses (1896) and a novel, Bruges-la-morte (1892).
Born July 16, 1855, in Tournai; died Dec. 25, 1898, in Paris. Belgian author who wrote in French.
The son of an aristocrat, Rodenbach was educated as a lawyer. He belonged to the literary group Young Belgium and later lived in Paris, associating with the French symbolists. Symbolist influence is apparent in the collections of poetry Pure Youth (1886), The Reign of Silence (1891), Enclosed Lives (1896), and The Mirror of the Native Sky (1898) and in the novels Bruges the Dead (1892) and The Bell Ringer (1897).
Rodenbach was a conservative romantic who disapproved of bourgeois civilization, contrasting to it the aesthetics of the changeless past: descriptions of the ancient cities of Flanders and the unchanging life and traditions of their inhabitants. His work is imbued with Catholic symbolism and religious mysticism. As a poet of social pessimism, Rodenbach was drawn to the Christian ideal of suffering, but he was also attracted to the theatrical aspects of the Catholic ritual.
The dominant moods of Rodenbach’s poetry are a gentle melancholy, a sense of the sadness of solitude, and a longing for oblivion. His verses, composed of halftones and shifting outlines, are permeated with complex tropes and are highly refined. However, they are free of the deliberate obfuscation characteristic of many French symbolist literary works. Using traditional meters with great skill, Rodenbach sought to achieve classical clarity and lucidity of expression.
WORKSOeuvres, vols. 1–2. Paris, 1923–25.
Choix depoésie, avec notice biographique de P. Maes. Paris .
In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1909–10.
[“Stikhi.”] In the collection Molodaia Bel’giia, vol. 1. Moscow .
Frantsuzskie liriki 19 veka. T’ranslated by V. Briusov. St. Petersburg .
REFERENCESVeselovskaia, M. Zh. Rodenbakh. Moscow, 1917.
Andreev, L. “Zh. Rodenbakh.” In his book Sto let bel’giiskoi literatury. Moscow, 1967. Pages 271–92.
Mirval, J. Le Poète du silence: G. Rodenbach. Brussels, 1940.
Maes, P. G. Rodenbach. Gembloux, 1952.
Grisay, A. “Bibliographie des éditions originales de Rodenbach.” In Le Livre de l’Estampe. Brussels, 1965.
B. L. RASKIN