Hubert Lampo : novelist, essayist, critic
Anyone mentioning the name Hubert Lampo adds 'magical realism' in the same breath. And usually also the title of the novel that broadly associates him with that literary movement: The Coming of Joachim Stiller (1960).
It initially seemed that Hubert Lampo would pursue a career in education. He obtained his teaching and regent diplomas one after the other. During World War II, he worked as a teacher in Antwerp, but also made his debut as a novelist during the same period, with Don Juan en de laatste nimf (Don Juan and the last nymph, 1942), a highly erotic story in which the cunning Spanish seducer meets his end in our regions. This was immediately followed by the publication of his first essay, De jeugd als inspiratiebron (The youth as a source of inspiration, 1943), a commendable study on orphans and the problems of youth.
From around 1945 to 1965 he was both editorial secretary of the Nieuw Vlaams Tijdschrift (NVS) and journalist and art critic for De Volksgazet. In the latter he wrote the weekly Art and Culture section and reviewed theatre performances.
Hubert Lampo was utterly convinced that there was an inexplicable, dreamed dimension beyond the visible and measurable reality. These are primal images that have crept into our collective subconscious over time and are expressed in our dreams, in religious experiences, in a state of ecstasy or in books, such as The Coming of Joachim Stiller (1960). The primal images or archetypes can take various forms: an evil spirit, a witch, a hero, fire, water ... or in Lampo's perhaps most intriguing and well-known novel the fear of an unspecified catastrophe and the presence of a Saviour who will free us from it. Joachim Stiller is the bizarre timeless saviour figure, a completely unique version of Christ the Redeemer. He sends letters to journalist Freek Groenevelt that only 40 years later arrive in the mailbox and predict future events. When Stiller eventually dies, it turns out that the Catastrophe does not take place after all; his death is just the ransom for liberation. As a generational liberal, unbaptised and confirmed agnostic, Hubert Lampo always found the religious tenor of his novel strange. In his own words, he never intended to go down that road, thereby deducing that The Coming of Joachim Stiller largely wrote itself. Another figure who readily appears in much of his work, each time under a different name, is the typical Lampo woman. He didn't deliberately create her either. For example, Simone Marijnissen in The Coming of Joachim Stiller, filmed in 1974, Hélène Defraye in the novel of the same name (1945) or Sarah Silbermann in Wijlen Sarah Silbermann (The late Sarah Silbermann, 1980) are embodiments of this Lampo woman.
Hubert Lampo translated novels, plays and essays from French and German and his own works were translated into German, English, French, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Czech and Swedish.
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