Paul van Ostaijen
was a Flemish
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...
poet and writer.
Van Ostaijen was born in Antwerp
. His nickname was Mister 1830
, because of his habit of walking along the streets of Antwerp clothed as a dandy
A dandy is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self...
from that year.
His poetry shows influences by Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...
, Dadaism and early Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....
, but Van Ostaijen's style is very much his own.
Van Ostaijen was an active flamingant
The Dutch and French word flamingant refers to all activists of the Flemish movement and was initially used as a pejorative term by Belgicists to indicate nationalist Flemish people. It may be derived from Flamins, the Walloon word for Flemings. The word can be equally used as an adjective or...
, a supporter of Flemish independence. Because of his involvement with Flemish activism
Activism consists of intentional efforts to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing...
during World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...
, he had to flee to Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...
after the war. In Berlin, one of the centers of Dadaism and Expressionism, he met many other artists. He also went through a severe mental crisis.
After he returned to Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...
, Van Ostaijen opened an art gallery in Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...
. He died of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...
in 1928 in a sanatorium
A sanatorium is a medical facility for long-term illness, most typically associated with treatment of tuberculosis before antibiotics...
in Miavoye-Anthée, in the Wallonia
The Ardennes is a region of extensive forests, rolling hills and ridges formed within the Givetian Ardennes mountain range, primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretching into France , and geologically into the Eifel...
Czech poet Ivan Wernisch
Ivan Wernisch is a Czech poet, editor and a collage artist. He studied Ceramics Secondary school in Carlsbad and has since done many jobs, mostly manual. In 1961, after publishing his debut poetry book, he quickly established himself as one of the best and most loved writers of his generation...
was so impressed by "the genius of van Ostaijen" that he learned Dutch to be able to translate him (his translation was published as Tanec gnómů
, Dance of the gnomes, in 1990.)
- Music hall (1916)
- Het sienjaal (The signal, 1918)
- Bezette stad (Occupied city, 1921)
- Feesten van Angst en Pijn (Feasts of Fear and Pain, written 1921, published posthumously)
- Nagelaten gedichten (Posthumous poems, published posthumously in 1928)
From the Posthumous Poems:
Zelfmoord des Zeemans
hij hoort de stem der Loreley
hij ziet op zijn horloge
en springt het water in
[The Sailor's Suicide
he hears the call of the Loreley
he looks at his watch
and jumps into the water]
- De trust der vaderlandsliefde (The trust of patriotism, 1925, grotesque
The word grotesque comes from the same Latin root as "Grotto", meaning a small cave or hollow. The original meaning was restricted to an extravagant style of Ancient Roman decorative art rediscovered and then copied in Rome at the end of the 15th century...
- Gebruiksaanwijzing der lyriek (Manual of lyrics, 1926, lecture)
- Het bordeel van Ika Loch (Ika Loch's brothel, 1926, grotesques)
- De bende van de stronk (The stump gang, 1932, grotesques)