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Old 12-24-2013   #21
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Another writer who falls within the Jean Ray/Thomas Owen class but has yet to be translated and I think also needs to be, is Gerard Prevot. Neglected outside of Belgium. His story collections remind me more of Owen than Ray in terms of style and atmosphere (and do see some infusion of Poe and Lovecraft at times). He wrote 34 short stories in 3 collections. The ones which had particular striking effect were those with WW2 themes. It seems to me Prevot's short stories have a more consistent quality about them compared to Owen and Ray who had a greater output.
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Old 12-24-2013   #22
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Uitarii, it's really fantastic that you are familiar with all of these authors. Gérard Prévot is the next name I wanted to mention on the thread. I am surprised that none of his collections have ever been translated into English considering the reputation he's earned with his disquieting strange stories. Given that so many publishers visit TLO, I hope we will have a chance to draw their attention to these names. I still haven't read any of his oeuvres, but I recently purchased Le Démon de février and L'Invitée de Lorelei (Flueve Noir), which collect his stories and novels.



He was celebrated by Franz Hellens and Louis Aragon. I found out about him in an interview with Thomas Owen, who recommended him.
The Belgian School of the Strange is the real deal. ;)

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily

Last edited by yellowish haze; 12-24-2013 at 04:33 AM..
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Old 12-24-2013   #23
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

A lot of interesting recommendations on this thread. Thanks. I have ordered a couple books by Paul van Ostaijen, Feasts of Fear and Agony and Patriotism, Inc. and Other Tales. and I am going to keep an eye out for an inexpensive copy of October Long Sunday by Guy Vaes. Both of these authors sound like they wrote works that would appeal to me.
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Old 12-29-2013   #24
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

One of the most interesting articles in the book on Jean Ray I mentioned above is indeed the one written by Thomas Owen, which is a bit less enthusiastic from the rest. Here is a summary of several paragraphs on how the two writers got to know each other and how, according to Owen, their works differ:

When he was in college, Owen discovered a tale of Ray in the anthology "Les Maîtres de la Peur". His wife was a close relative of Jean Ray’s family. She later gave him the first volume of "Les contes du whisky" lent by her cousin. He was quite delighted, full of admiration for the writer whom he considered a major discovery.
At the time he was not that passionate about fantastic literature, even though he read some Poe and seemed to be more interested in this genre than anything else. He was 18 at the time and still hasn’t chosen the field, in which he wanted to develop as a writer. Jean Ray has made a huge impact on him and thus drew him to the fantastic.
Thanks to the cousin, he was put in touch with the author. Owen ran a small magazine and asked him to write a story for it, which he did and from that time both of the writers kept in touch. Owen had a chance of getting to know him better during the meetings of "Les Auteurs associés".
Even though Jean Ray’s work had a definite impact on Owen, he didn’t consider himself his disciple: “I do not write the same way and I'm not even influenced by his writings, but I'm terribly influenced by his person, because most probably, without him I would have never been given such a boost to write fantastic fiction. I considered him a true revelator, as much as my booster and mentor.”
At first, he was proud of the relationship established between him and Ray. However, Ray would be often referred to as "the Belgian Poe" and Owen considered “Jean Ray’s follower" - something the latter could not agree with as he didn’t consider himself Ray’s continuator. With the exception of one story 15-12-38, which may have been influenced by Jean Ray, Owen didn’t see any relationship between their works. For him, Jean Ray used the fantastic by provoking strong emotions. He writes that: “In his works the monster breaks through the door, whilst in mine he blows a puff of smoke through the keyhole. Whereas he [Ray] storms into the everyday life, I subtly creep into it. This is very different. In the works of Jean Ray, there is initially little terror coming from within, as it is usually caused by extraordinary, unexplainable events coming from the outside that affect people. In my fiction, I think the terror comes from within the characters and it gives trivial and commonplace events gravity that is revealed only to the character and which I reveal to the reader.”

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily

Last edited by yellowish haze; 12-29-2013 at 06:17 PM..
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Old 12-29-2013   #25
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

yellowish haze, that is very interesting background on the interaction between Ray and Owen.

Some more comments by Owen on Ray:

"Jean Ray is a gothic personage, he resembles the cursed priest and the cathedral gargoyle. There is a presence of stone in him. Something of a prison wall which locks sins, regrets, suffering, under the icy indifference of the mortar and the rough stone. With Jean Ray, the physical and the invisible are incessantly intermingled. He fears nothing. It's not as much courage but a total absence of repulsion. He belongs to a subterranean world, that of centipedes, of reptiles, of caverns, of darkness. His eyes close in sunlight. He is made for the night, the rain and not for brightness. Darkness is his true world. That of his life and that of his art, for everything with him is confounded."

There is not much commentary on what Ray thought of Owen.
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Old 12-29-2013   #26
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Uitarii, thank you for this. What a great exchange of comments by Owen. I have identified your quote as one coming from an article "Présence de Jean Ray" by Thomas Owen.

Is this available in English anywhere?

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
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Old 12-29-2013   #27
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

I don't believe the essay is fully translated (I modified an existing translation of the quote).

Further on Ray and Owen there are a number of film adaptations of their stories as follows:

Film adaptations of Jean Ray's works:

2003 Irish Whisky (short)
1990 La griffe d'Horus (movie)
1982 Déséquilibres (short)
1971 Malpertuis
1966 L'homme qui osa (short)
1964 The Big Scare (based on "La cité de l'indicible peur" )

Film adaptations of Thomas Owen's works:

1990 Hostel Party (based on "Motel Party")
1987 La fille de la haute dune (short)
1982 Meurtres à domicile (based on "Hôtel meublé")
1974 Symptoms/Vampures (movie)
1968 La princesse vous demande (short)
1967 Contes fantastiques (short)
1965 La présence désolée (short)
1946 Les invités de huit heures (dialogue)
(he also directed Contes fantastiques)

some can be found on youtube.
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Old 02-24-2014   #28
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange



I just noticed that there is a new website dedicated to dark fiction from Belgium and France called DISEASED GARDENS:


Quote
This site seeks to provide reliable English language translations of a number of Belgian and French contes fantastiques. These are stories that merit wider readership outside Francophone territories but that, to the best of my knowledge, haven’t previously been translated. If you’re interested, please read on.
Among the translations one can find stories by Thomas Owen, Jean Ray, Michel de Ghelderode, Franz Hellens and others.

This is well-worth exploring!

"In my imagination, I have a small apartment in a small town where I live alone and gaze through a window at a wintry landscape." -- TL
Confusio Linguarum - visionary literature, translingualism & bibliophily
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Old 02-24-2014   #29
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Looks Great!! Thanks, yellowish haze. The Jean Ray story alone has me hooked.
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Old 06-01-2014   #30
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Re: L'école belge de l'étrange

Fascinating thread.

I had no idea that the film Symptoms was based on a Thomas Owen work.

Jean Ray, in my opinion, is really little more than a pulpster. He churned out reams and reams of negligible stuff, though admittedly he hit the high spots of great weird in one or two tales in his collection Ghouls In My Grave (whose title is better than the contents). I did read the Ex Occidente volume, but it was something of a crushing disappointment.

I think there might be a danger of simply regarding European Weird as, in and of itself, of a higher literary standard than American. It is hard to top Ligotti or Lovecraft in any language.

But you know, there are some Englishmen who often look towards continental Europe for their literary inspiration, rather than across the Atlantic. Mark Valentine and John Howard spring to mind. And, I confess, I myself tend to find more inspirational sustenance for the stuff I turn out from European rather than American sources.

But, as I said, a fascinating thread.

Mark S.

"You have no idea how much nastier I'd be if I were not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being." Evelyn Waugh
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