Louis Paul Boon: author, poet, painter …
Louis Paul Boon (°Aalst, 1912 - † Erembodegem, 1979) was artistically gifted in several ways: as a writer of novels, some of them pornographic, essays, chronicles, regular columns, erotic fairy tales, art and literary criticism, even a radio play – besides being a poet, journalist, columnist, painter and sculptor.
When WW I broke out, L. P. Boon was just a youngster. He nonetheless retained harrowing memories, including of a failed attempt to flee by a prisoner of war, which happened very close to him. His novel Verscheurd Jeugdportret ('Portrait of a Shredded Youth', 1975) talks about this. At the age of 16, he swapped his schooldays for a job as a façade and car painter, in order to help his father. In the meantime, he began taking lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts in Aalst.
He married Jeanneke De Wolf in 1936, and in 1939 they had a son, Jo.
During the mobilisation in September 1939, he wrote letters to his good friend, the painter Maurice Roggeman, published as Brieven aan Morris ('Letters to Morris', 1989). His experiences as a soldier in WW II are described in the bundle of more than 30 chronicles that he wrote, Mijn Kleine Oorlog ('My Little War', 1947), which broke with the trend of post-war prose. Most of these chronicles tell a story, but letters, protests and arguments were also included, each time featuring a different main character. His official debut novel De Voorstad Groeit (The Suburbs Grow', 1942), about life in the very last street of a suburb under construction, saw somewhat of a sequel with Vergeten Straat ('Forgotten Street', 1946). In this, he outlines how the residents of a street in Brussels, which had been closed off owing to works on the North-South Connection, try to build up a utopian society.
The 50s and 70s were his most productive period as an author; as a painter and sculptor, this was the 60s and 70s. In his masterpiece, the dual-plot novel De Kapellekensbaan ('Chapel Road', 1953) and its sequel Zomer te Ter-Muren ('Summer in Ter-Muren', 1956), he blends social critique with self-edited stories from the medieval beast epic Of Reynaert the Fox and personal experiences. Meanwhile, he published the three-part novel Menuet (1955) about a labourer, his wife and their housemaid, who each experience the same reality separately in a different way. Besides Menuet L. P. Boon is also known for Pieter Daens (1971), a documentary novel about the social and political battles of the priest Adolf Daens at the end of the 19th century, which was made into a film in 1992 and received a number of Belgian and international prizes and nominations.
Ten of his books have been translated into French, English, German, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Polish, Russian and Hungarian.
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