Item description for Bruges-La-Morte (Dedalus European Classics) by Alan Hollinghurst Georges Rodenbach...
Hugues Viane is a widower who has turned to the melancholy, decaying city of Bruges as the ideal location in which to mourn his wife and as a backdrop for the narcissistic wanderings of his disturbed spirit. He becomess obsessed with a young dancer whom he believes is the double of his beloved wife. The consequent drama leads Hugues to psychological torment and humiliation, culminating in a deranged murder. This 1892 work is a poet's novel, dense, visionary and haunting. Bruges, the 'dead city', becomes a metaphor for Hugues' dead wife as he follows its mournful labyrinth of streets and canals in a cyclical promenade of reflection and allusion -- the ultimate evocation of Rodenbach's lifelong love affair with the enduring mystery and mortuary atmosphere of Bruges.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 7.64" Width: 4.96" Height: 0.63" Weight: 0.44 lbs.
Release Date Apr 27, 2005
ISBN 1903517230 ISBN13 9781903517239
Reviews - What do customers think about Bruges-La-Morte (Dedalus European Classics)?
Mourning in a mournful town Feb 26, 2008
In the Middle Ages Bruges was a bustling and sumptuous international trading city; today it is a tourist centre, with fake medieval banners fluttering brightly from lamp-posts. But in 1475 the river Zwijn which had connected it with the North Sea dried up as the latter suddenly receded; the town's prosperity died away; its quais were deserted; all so much so that by the 1890s it was known as Bruges-la-Morte. It had - so at least Rodenbach perceived it in 1892 - become a sleepy, pious city under mournful grey skies, with the dominant colours being the black robes of the clergy, the white head-dresses of the nuns who live in the `mystic enclosure' of the Beguinage, and the white swans on the canals.
When Hugues Viane, the chief character in the novel, lost his beloved young wife, he decided to settle and shut himself away in Bruges because the dead town corresponded to his dead wife and because its atmosphere matched his inconsolable grief. Then one day, just as he was beginning to have difficulties in recalling his wife's features, he sees a woman in the street who is so much the absolute image of his dead wife that he pursues her. He rents a house in which he instals Jane as his mistress without at first feeling that he was being unfaithful to the cherished memory of his wife. After a while, it all goes horribly wrong as Jane's coarse nature diverges more and more from that of his wife; but by that time he cannot free himself from the erotic (and now experienced as the sinful) thrall into which he has fallen; and the end is terrible.
It is quite a powerful novella. It is told poetically against the pervasive atmosphere of the town which itself is a character in the story.
When the book first appeared, it was illustrated by 35 half-tone photographs of Bruges. This edition has new black-and-white photographs, but since none of them was taken in sunlight, they have the grey look which goes well with the text to which they refer.
A haunting read... Feb 5, 2008
Bruges-La-Morte by Georges Rodenbach is one of those minor pieces of world literature that can have a major effect on the reader. It is not a sublime work of art, it is not an epic, nor is it a treatise expounding on some political thought. At best it is a book for a moody afternoon, the story is laden in the overcast of a melancholy dreaming, a yearning.
The above review gives a good description of the story. A man has lost his wife. He moves to Bruges. His is a lonely life. He has a housekeeper but they are not the best of friends. One day he sees a woman resembling his dead wife. He courts her, longs for her, knows she is nothing like his wife in spirit and yet wants to refine her in his own way.
The beauty of this novel is in the pathos of the main character. A man in mourning who cannot let go of the past dooms himself. The photographs within the book add to the atomsphere. The streets are empty, the canals are empty, the world feels empty while you read this book. Again, it is not an epic piece of world literature but like an ominous dream, it lingers in the mind and heart. There are few novels or novellas out there that can haunt your life after you read it. This is one of them.
The Dead City Sep 6, 2006
This is a very mood-affecting piece of writing. For opera lovers it may ring a vague bell. It is, in fact, the novel on which Eric Korngold based his opera 'The Dead City'. However, it is not directly the source because Georges Rodenbach himself created a theatrical version of the story called 'Le Mirage'. Whether 'Le Mirage' is closer to 'The Dead City' than 'Bruges-la-Morte' I cannot tell, but there are definitely differences between the original novel and the opera libretto. Nevertheless the mood is carried into the opera - if you know Korngold's opera you will feel at home here.
This is the story of a man, a long-time mourner for his dead wife, who has moved his life to the quiet of the dead city - Bruges. After many years of subdued living he is confronted by a woman who appears to be the image of his wife - in body, but not in spirit. How can he resist her? How can he forgive her? Can the dead come back to life? Could the city of Bruges resurrect itself in a new guise after the sea withdrew from it? Is death final?
This is an interesting novel that is enhanced by images of Bruges - matching the original edition.