32(1) - 2020

Du national au transnational. Escal-Vigor (1899) et sa traduction en néerlandais (2014)

Kris Peeters

From national to transnational. Escal-Vigor (1899) and the Dutch translation (2014)

In 1899, the Flemish French-writing novelist Georges Eekhoud published Escal-Vigor, the first Belgian or even European novel to overtly defend homosexuality. Although written by a Flemish author, the novel was translated into Flemish (Dutch) only in 2014. In this article we interrogate that deafening silence. First, the evolution of Belgian critical discourse on Eekhoud is reconstructed. Initially, Eekhoud was considered a national and naturalist writer. After the 1920s, however, he became a regional French-writing Flemish author, whose style was increasingly described as overstated and outdated. Finally, Eekhoud was rehabilitated in the 1990s, not however as a Belgian naturalist nor as a Flemish regionalist, but as one of the first writers to defend homosexuality. Second, the analysis of the context and paratexts of the Dutch translation shows how homosexuality was indeed foregrounded, while Eekhoud’s ‘Belgitude’ and regional background were downplayed. The analysis of the translation itself reveals how homoerotic scenes were explicitated, while reputedly outdated pathos and style were modernized. The text’s translational legitimacy today therefore has moved away from the traditional defining criteria of nation and/or language. Instead, Eekhoud’s novel was presented and translated as one of the founding works of a transnational and translinguistic literature, that is, gay literature.

Belgian francophone literature, literary translation, Dutch, gay literatur

DOI 10.17462/para.2020.01.06

April 24, 2020
  32(1) - 2020