Belgian Literature in Germany


Symposium on the reception of Belgian Literature in Germany (1945-today)

On 17 November 2023 a symposium was organised by the Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf. The idea for the event came up during Dr. Anja van de Pol Tegge’s dissertation, which she had been writing under the supervision of apl. Prof. Dr. Vera Elisabeth Gerling (Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf) and Prof. Dr. Arvi Sepp (Vrije Universiteit Brussel).

How well do we know Belgium in Germany? Not quite well, as recent studies have shown. But Belgium as a multilingual country can offer a wealth of literary works in French, Dutch and German, some of which do not find their way to Germany. Literary translation as the most important medium for the reception of Belgian literature in Germany is the main topic of the symposium.

 The symposium was divided into three parts:

1) The conceptual first part centred on Belgium as a complex object of an interdisciplinary focus within the framework of cultural translation processes. Luc van Doorslaer (University of Tartu, KULeuven) informed about publishing and translation in Eastern Belgium. Anja van de Pol-Tegge (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) talked about possible problems of Belgian-German literary translation.

2) In the second part, experts from Belgium and Germany presented current research on Belgian literatures in the German context. Céline Letawe (Université de Liège) talked about francophone Georges Simenon and the reedition and retranslation of his collected work in Germany. Hubert Roland (Université Catholique de Louvain) informed about German translations of francophone poetry in East Belgium since 1970. Heinz Eickmans (Universität Duisburg-Essen) showed how Flamish literature has been represented in Germany by analysing German anthologies of Dutch and Flamish literature. Lut Missinne (Universität Münster) presented changes in the reception of Flamish authors in Germany from the fifties till now.

3) The third part was more practical: Bettina Bach, literary translator French-German, but also Dutch-German organised a  translation workshop for the participants and discussed a fragment from Suzanne Lilar’s autobiography “Une enfance gantoise”, a text about the francophone bourgeoisie in Flanders at the beginning of the 20th century. The day culminated in a bilingual reading by the Flemish author Fikry El Azzouzi and his translator Ilja Braun.

(Christine Koopmann, University Münster)

Prof. Dr. Céline Letawe and Prof. Dr. Vera Elisabeth Gerling

photo: ©Julia Braun

Prof. Dr. Lut Missinne, Universität Münster on reception of Flemish literature in Germany

photo: ©Julia Braun

Ilja Braun and Fikry El Azzouzi

photo: ©Julia Braun