Book reviewContrebande littéraire et culturelle à la belle époque. Le « hard labour » de Georges Eekhoud entre Anvers, Paris et
Bruxelles [Literary and Cultural Contraband in the Belle Époque. Georges Eekhoud’s “Hard Labour” between Antwerp,
Paris and Brussels]. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2017. 262 pp. .
Reviewed by Kris Peeters
University of Antwerp
The volume under review, which focuses on one particular writer’s multilingual mediation in early twentieth-century Belgium, is novel in three ways. First, Maud Gonne places at the centre of interest the Flemish francophone novelist and critic Georges Eekhoud (1854–1927), who was, as her book abundantly shows, a key player and an important intercultural mediator in the Belgian literary field during the Belle Époque, when the overlapping and interrelating cultural identities in Belgium (that is, Flemish, francophone and national) were in full development. In the aftermath of World War I, during which he had taken a pacifist-anarchist and pan-Germanic view with regard to the German enemy, Eekhoud lost his influential position in the literary field. Outshone by the better-known and canonised Belgian symbolists, such as Maeterlinck and Verhaeren, he fell into oblivion once the so-called nordicité in francophone Belgian literature ran out of steam. He disappeared from public interest altogether after World War II, during which he had been popular with those in favour of a pan-Germanic ideology. In the 1990s, however, Eekhoud was rediscovered, mainly because of the work of his biographer and editor of several of his texts, Mirande Lucien (Eekhoud 1992, 1993, 1996a, 1996b, 1999), primarily as an important writer in the history of homosexuality. Over the past two decades, literary scholars and, more recently, translation scholars have developed an interest in Eekhoud. Nonetheless, this book is the first monograph on Georges Eekhoud in over sixty years and constitutes a long awaited complement to Lucien’s biographical and editorial work.