Ghelderode, Michel de

Ghelderode, Michel de

(mēshĕl` də gĕldərōd`), 1898–1962, Belgian dramatist. He wrote in French and is noted for his colorful and avant-garde plays. He lived in obscurity until 1949, when he gained prominence with the production of Fastes d'enfer (1929). His vast output reveals his use of many sources; Barabbas (1928), Mademoiselle Jaïre (1934), and Marie la misérable (1952) draw on biblical themes or medieval morality plays. The influences of Maeterlinck and Flemish painters, of puppet theater and commedia dell'arte, of Rabelais and Edgar Allan Poe, are evident in Pantagleize (1929), Magie rouge (1931), La Balade du grand macabre (1934), and Hop Signor! (1935). Complex dramatic techniques are used in Christophe Colomb (1927) and Don Juan (1928). Ghelderode favored themes of death and the devil, gluttony, avarice, and lust, but he also explored the heights of religious exaltation. Among his prose works La Flandre est un songe (1953) is well known.


See his Théâtre complet (5 vol., 1950–52). Les Entretiens d'Ostende (1956) has been partly translated, together with some of his best plays, in Seven Plays (1960).

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Ghelderode, Michel de


Born Apr. 3, 1898, in Ixelles; died Apr. 1, 1962, in Brussels. Belgian writer. Wrote in French. Dramatist (Death Looks Through the Window, staged in 1918; Maria the Sufferer, 1952) and story writer (“The Pilgrimage,” 1922, and “Sacrilege,” 1941).

Ghelderode’s outlook was ambivalent: he was horrified by the future, he did not believe in men’s rational efforts to change the course of history, and he had a common man’s hatred of private-ownership society and of the individualistic morality of the powerful of this world (the farce Feast of the Beasts, produced in 1919, and the collection of short stories Man in Uniform, 1923). He was saved from decadent despair by faith in the mission of the theater to be a “mirror of nature,” by a Flemish love of life (the drama Don Juan, 1928), by vital ties with the poetics of farcical shows and pantomime (the farce Feast in Hell, 1929) and by ties with experiments in Flemish folk theater (the tragedies Barabbas, produced in 1929, and Pantagleize, produced in 1930).


Théâtre complet, vols. 1-3. Brussels, 1942-43.
Théâtre, vols. 1-5. Paris, 1950-57.


Merl’, R. “Neskol’ko slov o sovremennom frantsuzskom teatre.” Inostrannaia literatura, 1957, no. 4.
Lepage, A. M. de Ghelderode. Brussels-Paris [1960].
Vandromme, P. M. de Ghelderode. Paris [1963].
Delarue, M. “Soirée Ghelderode.” Humanité, Apr. 17, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.