Spread the Spark
Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere bids his readers farewell.
High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands
High Road to Culture in Flanders and the Netherlands
Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere bids his readers farewell.
While Flanders prepares to devote the years 2014-2018 to large-scale commemoration of the First World War, the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres shows a completely new scenography and a total area 50 % larger than when it opened in 1998. ...
Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere honours the artist who loved to play around with belgitude.
Flemish photographer Stephan Vanfleteren travelled along the Atlantic Wall, the entire coastal German World War II defence from Norway to Spain. In his own inimitable fashion he shows us the melancholic beauty of these relics. Another Flem...
A traveller follows the Roman limes in the Netherlands from Katwijk to Xanten (Germany). He passes through Leiden, looks for fortresses and finds a historical theme-park where he meets Roman soldiers. He examines the outlines of the Roman ...
Flemish and Dutch people have a totally different relationship with their language. Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere explains why.
Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere takes the start of the Multatuli year as an opportunity to explore the author’s legacy.
Luc Devoldere rejects the existence of a bond between language and ethnicity – or Blut und Boden. Instead, he suggests the term ‘territory’.
Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere considers himself a language romanticist. 'A romanticist will consider language as the spine of one’s identity.'
Have you ever heard of “suburban Flemish” and “Polderdutch”? Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere about the tension between dying dialects, weird "in-between-languages" and overpowering standard languages.
Luc Devoldere states that we have no choice in Europe, but to become as multilingual as possible.
For centuries, the Dutch language in Belgium had to pave the way for French. And yet, editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere, a Fleming, wouldn’t miss French for the world.
What are those Low Countries actually that we are always talking about? Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere explains.
According to editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere, literature does not provide knowledge, let alone truth. Still, literature can make people better.
Reflecting on Leonardo da Vinci’s death, 500 years ago, Luc Devoldere makes a few comments on the notion of the uomo universale.
Milo Rau and his theater company NTGent adapted the Greek tragedy The Oresteia. Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere left the performance with mixed feelings.
Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere reread Natalia Ginzburg’s classic ‘The Little Virtues’ and muses on the life lessons that the Italian writer taught us.
When it comes to Dutch, editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere states that it is not clear who determines which language norms to respect and which rules to adhere to.
Where once there was a checkpoint in France, the slogan 'Let us be ungovernable' can be read along the border. Luc Devoldere wonders what the graffiti artists mean by this.
For a long time, the Dutch believed that the Netherlands was somehow a 'Gidsland' ('Guide Land'), a nation whose moral example could inspire other nations toward better behaviour.
Discover one of the greatest classical poets of the twentieth century in the Netherlands.
For decades, pigeon racing was as much part of Belgium as the Atomium, chip stalls and cycle racing.
‘One-Third Land and Two-Thirds Sky' – that is how the film director Peter Greenaway saw, and sees, the Netherlands.
Ons Erfdeel vzw launches a platform with the ambition to inform you about artistic, cultural and societal topics in the Low Countries.
The legacy of the Dutch historians Johan Huizinga and Pieter Geyl can hardly be overestimated.
Often, when discussing Flanders versus the Netherlands, we tend to fall back on the cliché about being ‘Catholic’ versus being ‘Protestant’. The truth, however, is far more complex.
Anyone who wants to understand the linguistic complexity of Belgium must be aware of the language border, declared in 1963, that divides the country into two big regions.
When did the first texts written in Dutch date from?
If you really want to get to know Flanders, you have to drive along its stone roads.
16th century humanist Jan van Gorp believed that Dutch was the only language that originated directly from the Proto-Human language and was still very similar to it.
Which image or object would you choose to capture the Low Countries?
This year, the Month of Philosophy in Belgium and the Netherlands is dedicated to the concept of truth.
Emperor Charles V embodied the complex linguistic situation in the Low Countries.
When it comes to language, Belgium has a complex history. That is beautifully illustrated by the position of French-language literature written at the end of the 19th century by Flemings.
Latin is often denounced for being elitist, but people tend to forget that, before, anyone had to master it as a second language. Therefore, not a single European nation could feel disadvantaged by Latin.
Why do we call the language we speak today 'Dutch'?
The internationally renowned essayist has been awarded the Golden Quill for his contribution to the international political debate and his outstanding service to the Dutch language.
Works of art along the motorway: the cross of Fabre, chaos and a cyclops.
In a new book by our publisher Ons Erfdeel vzw, experts state that a lot of institutions and systems that were built up after the Second World War are at risk today.
In 2016, the Flemish political scientist Kris Deschouwer wrote an illuminating piece about the very special character of the Belgian social security system.
On 15 May 1920, the deposed German Emperor, Wilhelm II, settled in ‘House Doorn’, an estate with a lavishly furnished country house near Utrecht. Today, the manor is a museum worth visiting.
Just going by today’s headlines, the end of Western democracy seems imminent. However, is a crisis not the essence of a democracy?
Studying Dutch abroad signifies considerable economic and cultural added value. But are the Dutch and Flemish politicians truly aware of this untapped potential?
Sixty-something Flemish and Dutch artists come up with a response to the current public health crisis. Their inspiration? Paul van Ostaijen’s famous poetry collection 'Bezette Stad'.
Historians have chosen new themes to represent the Canon of Dutch History.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the Great War, numerous events have been held. This anthology brings together some of the finest essays we have published.
The Battle of Arnhem famously ended in failure for the Allied forces. On the contrary, for the German troops, the clash meant a final major military victory.
A small history of the Adornes domain: a unique heritage of the Middle Ages.
Between the late 1950s and mid-1970s Western society and culture undeniably experienced great changes, which also affected the Low Countries. After years of rebuilding following World War II, at the start of the 1960s prosperity had arrive...
Can one frame the sea? The Chief Editor tries to, presenting the theme of this issue: sea, water in all its forms, turning tides.
Tratsaert will succeed Luc Devoldere as editor-in-chief and managing director of Flemish-Dutch cultural institution Ons Erfdeel vzw.
The Dutch government had asked the Nexus Institute to organise a series of international conferences during the Dutch presidency of the EU in the second half of 2004, focusing on the values that Europe embraces, the values that it should em...
‘About suffering they were never wrong, The old Masters’ DUTCH AND FLEMISH ARTISTS AROUND THE GLOBE On 20 January 2017, a mural appeared on Barthélémylaan/Boulevard Barthélémy on the Canal in Brussels, of an imminent beheading. The knif...
A foreword: Why does someone take the trouble to get up and go somewhere, to travel?
The subject of this book is borders. Historic borders and mental borders. It is the paradox of borders that you must accept them if you want to transcend them.
A foretaste of the 13th issue
In this introduction the Chief Editor presents the themed section of this issue: sports and play in general. He also reflects on twenty years of presenting the culture of the Low Countries to the world.
The subject of the themed section of this book is the Great War. How does one write about that? The poet Yeats said he couldn’t. But all the others did. And how.
There are many clichés doing the rounds about the different characteristics of Dutch language and literature in the North and the South. Apparently minimalism is prized in the North. Writing there is sober and accurate. In the South, on th...
A Foreword. Money matters: but so do arts and society in this yearbook.
A foreword to the 18th yearbook and its themed section about South Africa which hosts the Football World Cup in the summer of 2010. In this issue of the yearbook we are talking about South Africa and the Low Countries: how do they view each...
A foreword to the 16th yearbook and its themed section about love and lust, sent from the Low Countries with Tender Loving Care.
When he was alive Tadema produced art. After his death it appeared kitsch. If kitsch is, as Roger Scruton claims, ‘fake art, expressing fake emotions, whose purpose is to deceive the consumer into thinking he feels something deep and serio...
An introduction to the 12th yearbook and its theme
Introduction to the book. How good do people feel in the Low Countries, still after all a prosperous delta area? Comfortably discontented, as one poet writes? How do they cope with the way of all flesh known as ‘ageing', with the welfare-an...
What do we see in the mirrors we look into and the mirrors others hold up to us? To form the theme of this edition we have put together a collection of images: images of Flanders and the Netherlands to be found in other countries and images...
In the Middle Ages belfries or hall towers were a symbol of the urban and middle class freedom and power in the Southern Netherlands. Here we show you eight of them. They all have a tale to tell.
This great Flemish theologian played a major role in the renewal of the Church and of theology. Often obliged to defend himself in Rome, he was never condemned. One could say that he felt a freedom with regard to Church structures that enab...
A bombshell exploded in 2010 when the Bishop of Bruges confessed to sexually abusing his nephew for years more than two decades earlier. The annus horribilis that followed should be seen against a background of galloping secularization. Be ...
About the life and work of this Frisian painter, who died in London, where he was fêted and knighted in his lifetime.
About the scholar Jozef IJsewijn, Professor at Leuven University, and his magnum opus, the 'Companion to Neo-Latin Studies'
The photographer Vanfleteren has simply dreamed up his whole personal, wilful, idiosyncratic Belgium and created his own truth. Belgium is in the eye of the beholder. Le spectacle est dans le spectateur. That spectator has now made an archi...
Willem, Willelmus, Gullielmus, Guillaume, William: this sturdy Fleming was born in Rubrouck around 1210-1215. After joining the Franciscan order he received his training in Paris, as one of the first generation that hadn't known the saint ...
About the 'Jef Denyn' Royal Carillon School in Mechelen.
In this article the author examines the extent to which the image of Flemish greedy sensuality and mysticism (or lavish living and piousness) is projected, if at all, in two grand novels that have become the idiosyncratic national epics of ...
A journey through the First World War cemeteries of West Flanders and Northern France. These ‘lieux de mémoire' speak of a war whose last eye-witnesses are fast vanishing from the scene. And so the Great War will finally become part of `gre...
The author paints a portrait of Aalst. Then he makes a confession. For him, Aalst was first and foremost a smell. When he first came to the town about 35 years ago, it was the all-pervasive, acridsmell of starches – the factory! – that stru...
Geometry won't get you far in Flanders. There the horizon is closer, the roads are not as straight and the water is not such an overwhelming presence. Here everything is on a smaller scale and more cluttered than in the Netherlands. Messier...
When the humanist and patron Hieronymus Busleyden died in 1517, he left enough money to enable an idea cherished by Erasmus finally to be turned into a reality: the founding of a school in Leuven dedicated to the study of the three classic...
In the heart of Brussels, on the corner of Leopoldstraat and Prinsenstraat, an impressive building is undergoing renovation. The intention is that this building will become the Dutch-Flemish Centre for Europe in Brussels, which will be open...
At the beginning of his essay the author descends the majestic stairs of Antwerp Central Station, ‘the Cathedral of the Tracks'. Then he tells us he collects stations and shares some Flemish stations from that collection with the reader. He...
A short survey of the work of Jaap van Heerden, Dutch essayist extraordinaire with books which have titles to die for and essays which are never boring.
As the title says, these are supposed to be excerpts from the log the author kept on board of a number of boats during two river trips: one down the Scheldt, and one down the Maas, each time from source to estuary. But the author himself ad...
If someone were to be nominated as the greatest Belgian of all time, it would surely have to be Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916). He was a man who wrote in French but who was regarded as a Fleming; and who died in the First World War as a staun...
In 2015 the Royal Academy of Dutch Language and Literature bent their heads together in Ghent over the canon, and came out with fifty titles, fifty works from between the end of the twelfth century and the nineteen-eighties. All the author...
Review of a literary guide to Amsterdam (Manfred Wolf (ed.), Amsterdam, A Traveler's Literary Companion. San Francisco: Whereabouts Press, 2001
On 28 November 2000 history was made in the Netherlands. On that day the Second Chamber, the lower house of parliament, passed the Euthanasia Bill by a majority of 104 to 40. An analysis.
A historical account of the Low Countries as a refuge for philosophers, artists, writers etc. The reader meets René Descartes in his Amsterdam study, Charlotte and Emily Brontë in a Brussels boarding school, Stefan Zweig and Joseph Roth on ...
From 21 to 27 March 1999 eighteen Dutch-language writers were guests at the London Festival of Literature. The 'Stichting Frankfurter Buchmesse '93' supported this event with an impressive promotional campaign.
The 'In Flanders Fields' museum is not a traditional museum. It's a 'layered' museum, a museum you can put together yourself, and so it's eclectic and postmodern in the sense that the big stories are replaced by the countless small ones.
Editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere discusses whatever moves or triggers him in and about the Low Countries, where he lives, resides and works.
Once in a while, editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere dives into the archives of The Low Countries and pulls out a story that is worth rereading. Consider it left luggage, that reveals a hidden gem.
Which languages have been spoken in the Low Countries? Celtic, Latin, Flemish, Hollandish, Belgian, Dutch? In this series, editor-in-chief Luc Devoldere wonders how we keep on managing in our very own Babel. He contemplates the way we use l...
Our best language stories of 2019, handpicked by the editor.
Our best language stories of 2020, handpicked by the editor.
The new director of Ons Erfdeel regrets that the debate about Flemish self-awareness has degenerated into a polarisation between the populist right and the tendentious left.