Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
681
BELGRADE

group. He described the life of the peasants of his native Flanders with a bold realism, making himself the apologist of the vagabond and the outcast in a series of tragic stories:—Kees Doorik (1883), Kermesses (1883), Nouvelles Kermesses (1887), Le Cycle patibulaire (1892), Mes Communions (1895), Escal Vigor (1899) and La Faneuse d’amour (1900), &c. Nouvelle Carthage (1888) deals with modern Antwerp. In 1892 he produced a striking book on English literature entitled Au siècle de Shakespeare, and has written French versions of Beaumont and Fletcher’s Philaster (1895) and of Marlow’s Edward II. (1896).

The earlier work of “Young Belgium” in poetry was experimental in character, and was marked by extravagances of style and a general exuberance which provoked much hostile criticism. The young writers of 1870 to 1880 had not long to wait, however, for recognition both at home and in Paris, where many of them found hospitality in the pages of the Mercure de France from 1890 onwards. They divided their allegiance between the leaders of the French Parnassus and the Symbolists.

The most powerful of the Belgian poets, Émile Verhaeren (q.v.), is the most daring in his technical methods of expressing bizarre sensation, and has been called the “poet of paroxysm.” His reputation extends far beyond the limits of his own country.

Many of the Belgian poets adhere to the classical form. Albert Giraud (born at Louvain in 1860) was faithful to the Parnassian tradition in his Pierrot lunaire (1884), Pierrot narcisse (1891) and Hors du siècle (1886). In the earlier works of Iwan Gilkin (born at Brussels in 1858) the influence of Charles Baudelaire is predominant. He wrote Damnation de l’artiste (1890), Ténèbres (1892), Stances dorées (1893), La Nuit (1897) and Prométhée (1899). The poems of Valère Gille (born at Brussels in 1867), whose Cithare was crowned by the French Academy in 1898, belong to the same group. Émile van Arenberghe (born at Louvain in 1854) is the author of some exquisite sonnets. Fernand Severin (b. 1867) in his Poèmes ingénus (1900) aims at simplicity of form, and seems to have learnt the art of his musical verse direct from Racine. With Severin is closely associated Georges Marlow (b. 1872), author of L’Âme en exil (1895).

Georges Rodenbach (1855-1898) spent most of his life in Paris and was an intimate of Edmond de Goncourt. He produced some Parisian and purely imitative work; but the best part of his production is the outcome of a passionate idealism of the quiet Flemish towns in which he had passed his childhood and early youth. In his best known work, Bruges la Morte (1892), he explains that his aim is to evoke the town as a living being, associated with the moods of the spirit, counselling, dissuading from and prompting action.

The most famous of all modern Belgian writers, Maurice Maeterlinck (q.v.), made his début in a Parisian journal, the Pléiade, in 1886. He succeeded more nearly than any of his predecessors in expressing or suggesting ideas and emotions which might have been supposed to be capable of translation only in terms of music. “The unconscious self, or rather the sub-conscious self,” says Émile Verhaeren, “recognized in the verse and prose of Maeterlinck its language or rather its stammering attempt at language.” Maeterlinck was a native of Ghent, and the first poems of two of his fellow-townsmen also appeared in the Pléiade. These were Grégoire le Roy (b. 1862), author of La Chanson d’un soir (1886), and Mon Cœur pleure d’autrefois (1889); and Charles van Lerberghe (b. 1861), author of a play, Les Flaireurs (1890) and a collection of Poèmes (1897).

Max Elskamp (born at Antwerp in 1862) is the author of some volumes of religious poetry—Dominical (1892), Salutations, dont d’angéliques (1893), En symbole vers l’apostolat (1895)—for which he has devised as background an imaginary city. Eugène Demolder (b.1862) also created a mythical city as a setting for his prose contes in the Légende d’Yperdamme (1897).

Belgian literary activity extends also to historical research. Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove (1817-1891) wrote a Histoire de Flandre (7 vols., 1847-1855), and a number of monographs on separate points in Flemish and English history. Though an accurate historian, he allowed himself lo be prejudiced by his extreme Catholic views. He was a vehement defender of Mary Stuart. Louis Gachard (1800-1885) wrote many valuable works on 16th century history; Mgr. Namèche (1810-1893) completed the 29th volume of his Cours d’histoire nationale before his death; Charles Piot (b. 1812) edited the correspondence of Cardinal de Granvelle; Alphonse Wauters (1818-1898), archivist of Brussels, published many archaeological works; and Charles Rahlenbeck (1823-1903) wrote enthusiastically of the history of Protestantism in Belgium. One of the most masterly writers of French in Belgium was the economist Émile de Laveleye (q.v.). In aesthetics should be noted the historian of music, François Joseph Fétis (1784-1871); F. A. Gevaert (1828-1908), author of Histoire et théorie de la musique d’antiquité (2 vols., 1875-1881); and Victor Mahillon (b. 1841) for his work in acoustics and his descriptive catalogue (1893-1900) of the museum of musical instruments belonging to the Brussels conservatoire. In psychology Joseph Delboeuf (1831-1896) enjoyed a great reputation outside Belgium; Elisée Reclus (b. 1830), though a Frenchman by birth, completed his Géographie universelle (1875-1894) in exile at Brussels; and Ernest Nys has written many standard works on international law. In the history of literature an important work is compiled by Ferdinand van der Haeghen and others in the Bibliotheca Belgica (1880, &c.), comprising a description of all the books printed in the Netherlands in the 15th and 16th centuries. The vicomte de Spoelberch de Lovenjoul (1836-1907) was well known in France as the author of Sainte-Beuve inconnu (1901), La Genèse d’un roman de Balzac (1901), Une Page perdue de H. de Balzac (1903), and of numerous bibliographical works.

See F. V. Goethals, Histoire des lettres, des sciences et des arts en Belgique (4 vols., 1840-1844); Fr. Masoin, Histoire de la littèrature française en Belgique de 1815 à 1830 (1903); F. Nautet, Histoire des lettres belges d’expression française (3 vols., 1892 et seq.), written from the point of view of young Belgium, and by no means impartial; A. de Koninck, Bibliographie nationale brought down to 1880; Biographie nationale de Belgique (1866, &c.) in progress; see also articles by Émile Verhaeren in the Revue des revues (15th June 1896), by Albert Mockel in the Revue encyclopédique (24th July 1897); a collection of criticisms chiefly on Belgian writers by Eugène Gilbert, France et Belgique; études litteraires (1905); Frédéric Faber, Histoire du théâtre français en Belgique (5 vols., 1878-1880). An excellent anthology of Belgian poets was published by K. Pol de Mont with the title of Modernités (1898).

 (E. G.) 

BELGRADE (Servian, Biograd or Beograd, i.e. “White Castle”), the capital of Servia. Pop. (1900) 69,097. Belgrade occupies a triangular ridge or foreland, washed on the north-west by the Save, and on the north-east by the Danube; these rivers flowing respectively from the south-west and north-west. The sides of the triangle slope down abruptly towards the west, more gradually towards the east; at the base stands the cone of Avala Hill, the last outpost of the Rudnik Mountains, which extend far away to the south; and, at the apex, a cliff of Tertiary chalk, 200 ft. high, overlooks the confluence of the two rivers, the large, flat island of Veliki Voyn and several smaller islets. This cliff is crowned by the walls and towers of the citadel, once white, but now maroon with age, and, though useful as a prison and barracks, no longer of any military value. Behind the citadel, and along its glacis on the southern side, are the gardens of Kalemegdan, commanding a famous view across the river; behind Kalemegdan comes Belgrade itself, a city of white houses, among which a few great public buildings, like the high school, national bank, national theatre and the so-called New Palace, stand forth prominently. The town was formerly divided into three parts, namely, the Old town, the Russian town (Sava-Makhala or Save district), and the Turkish town (Dorčol, or Cross-road). A great change, however, took place in the course of the 19th century, and the old divisions are only partially applicable, while there has to be added the Tirazia, an important suburban extension along the line of the aqueduct or Tirazi. A few old Turkish houses, built of plaster, with red-tiled roofs, are left among the ill-paved and insanitary districts bordering upon the rivers, but as the royal residence, the seat of government, and the centre of the import trade, Belgrade was, after 1869,