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Hugues Viane is a widower who has turned to the melancholy, decaying city of Bruges as the ideal location in which to mourn his wife and as a backdrop for the narcissistic wanderings of his disturbed spirit. He becomes obsessed with a young dancer whom he believes is the double of his beloved wife, leading him to psychological torment and humiliation, culminating in a deranged murder. This 1892 work is a poet's novel, dense, visionary, and haunting. Bruges, the 'dead city', becomes a metaphor for Hugues' dead wife as he follows its mournful labyrinth of streets and canals in a cyclical promenade of reflection and allusion--the ultimate evocation of Rodenbach's lifelong love affair with the enduring mystery and mortuary atmosphere of Bruges.

100 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1892

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 243 reviews
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,400 reviews3,282 followers
August 14, 2022
Georges Rodenbach does everything possible to create the atmosphere of the morbid and deadly melancholia so this authentic aura of hopelessness and doom turns the novel into the well of despondency.
Upon the day following the funeral of the wife in whom was bound up all his possibilities of happiness, he had retired to Bruges as a fastness of melancholy and there succumbed to its fascination.

The old Gothic town and the bereft widower are in the perfect harmony…
In the vistas of the canals he discerned the face of Ophelia rising resurgent from the waters, in all the forlornness of her beauty, and in the frail and distant music of the carillon there was wafted to him the sweetness of her voice. The town, so glorious of old and still so lovely in its decay, became to him the incarnation of his regrets.

The main hero walks the streets of Bruges as if lost:
After ten years of constant companionship with a woman to whom he had been absolutely devoted, he had been rendered utterly unable to accommodate himself to her absence. His only resource was the attempt to discover suggestions of her in other countenances.

And unexpectedly he meets the woman who resembles his late beloved wife like the reflection of the moon in a canal resembles moon. But the reflection isn’t substantial, it is enough the slight breeze to ripple the water and the reflection is distorted and destroyed… So gradually, the protagonist gets disillusioned and becomes more and more obsessed and depressed…
Hughes urged upon himself the necessity of bringing his life into conformity with the behests that were everywhere issued around him. Bruges became again to him an intangible personality, guiding, counselling, and determining all his actions.

And depression, cooped in the sick consciousness, always finds the most unpredictable outlets.
Profile Image for Dolors.
524 reviews2,178 followers
July 18, 2017
My real trip to Bruges took place when I got home after visiting the actual city, when I gathered enough momentum to submit to Rodenbach’s pulsating testimony of the kind of beauty that can only be found in death, like one can sense in certain places such as the somber cathedrals, the towering belfries, the pebbled alleys and greyish quays that compose the skeleton of Bruges, once a decadent city brought back to life by the refined pen of a Symbolist’s contemplation.

Hugues Viane is a disconsolate widower who has found a matchless companion in the lonely melancholy of Bruges, a city whose glorious days of trade have waned into a suffocating atmosphere of religious conservatism. Haunted by memories of his deceased wife, Viane roams the streets of Bruges in silent conversation with its canals, chiming bells and austere convents, absorbed by his inexhaustible despair until he crosses paths with Jane, a young actress who bears a strong resemblance with his beloved. Spurred by his mysterious connection with the dormant city, Viane indulges in a deranged fantasy that takes him into a downward spiral towards a climatic ending that explores the link between death, conscience and grief.

Rodenbach’s evocation of Bruges is more than an attempt to paint an accurate landscape for Hugues’ mourning but a deliberate effort to thread a perturbing analogy between the city and the states of mind of a man lost in the morbid eroticism of venerating a dead woman in a living corpse. Bruges becomes the mute narrator and the ultimate protagonist of the story, Hugues the mirror that refracts it to the reader and Jane, a grotesque object disguised as femme fatale that gives a Gothic touch to the outcome of the novel.

Tragedy can already be anticipated in the opening paragraph, but plotline is totally superfluous in this case. It’s the stylistic delivery of foretold events merging with the internalized perceptions of its main character that makes this book a chilling but strangely delicate experience, that creates the impression of a pagan ritual branded in darkly sensuous poetry that tempts and hypnotizes the reader, leaving him helpless and levitating in suspended tension, in the ache of pleasure momentarily achieved but never truly possessed.

I recently took a stroll around the medieval alleys of Bruges, crossed its bridges and admired the quays, over-brimming with waves of tourists and pearly white swans, but it was through Rodenbach’s aesthetic vision that I finally met the true soul of this town in all its withered splendor and somber beauty of past blending with present, of introspective art fused with metaphorical precision.

Profile Image for Warwick.
812 reviews14.5k followers
March 3, 2016
I sometimes get the worrying feeling that nineteenth-century men preferred their women to be dead than alive. There is something archetypal about the repeated vision of the pale, beautiful, fragile, utterly feminine corpse. Beyond corruption, a woman who's died is a woman you can safely worship without any danger that she'll ruin the image by doing something vulgar like using the wrong form of address to a bishop, or blowing your best friend. It's a vision that crops up everywhere in the works of these fin-de-siècle writers, who were unhealthily obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe and with the figure of drowned Ophelia (for them, more Millais than Shakespeare):

Bruges-la-Morte (1892) is the apotheosis of this kind of preoccupation. As my introductory para suggests, I find the general mindset a little problematic, but this is certainly a beautifully-written distillation of the theme. Hugues Viane, our melancholy hero, settles in Bruges after the death of his wife, and prepares to live out the rest of his days nursing his memories of her: he dedicates a room of his house to her portraits, and preserves a lock of her hair in a glass cabinet.

When he's not staring at her pictures, he's out taking moody walks along the canals.

Where, one day, he sees a woman in the street who looks identical, in every detail, to his dead wife. Is it a ghost? An appalling coincidence? His mind playing tricks on him?

And might it be somehow possible to recreate his lost love…?

Viane is the main character; but drizzly, grey Bruges is the real hero of the book. The city is portrayed as the necessary complement to Viane's feelings of loneliness:

Une équation mystérieuse s'établissait. À l'épouse morte devait correspondre une ville morte.

A mysterious equation established itself. To the dead wife there must correspond a dead town.

The point is underlined by the inclusion of a number of black-and-white photographs of the city, looking still and silent, and often including unidentified figures. A modern reader can't help seeing the effect as Sebaldian.

But anyway, however interesting this early use of photography may be, the real star is Rodenbach's prose. He finds a thickly atrabilious style to fit his story, rich in imagery, full of strikingly depressive turns of phrase. The city's canals are ‘cold arteries’ where ‘the great pulse of the sea has stopped beating’; the famous Tour des Halles ‘defends itself against the invading night with the gold shield of its sundial’; down below there are streetlamps ‘whose wounds bleed into the darkness’.

This must be what people mean when they talk about ‘prose-poetry’. There are some paragraphs here that seem to be made up entirely of alexandrines. And then just look at a phrase like this:

Les hautes tours dans leurs frocs de pierre partout allongent leur ombre.

There is a progression of vowels here that slides forward through the mouth beautifully, ending with the wonderful dirge-like assonance of allongent and ombre; and the consonants travel too, from the silent h of haut, back in the throat, forward to the t of tours, on to one lip with the f of frocs, then both lips for the two ps, and finally the lips are pushed right out for the last two nasal vowels. Wowzer! (Translation: something like: ‘Everywhere the high towers in their stony habits stretch forth their shadow.’)

Earlier this year I read Nerval's Les Filles du feu, and I kept being reminded of it while I was reading Bruges-la-Morte. There is exactly the same fascination with the ‘doubling’ of a love interest: one woman becomes two (or more), each taking on different attributes – one is blonde, the other dark, one is pure, the other degraded, one is a virgin the other is a whore, and so on. Some scenes, some lines, are almost identical: Rodenbach must surely have been a Nerval fan. He sums up the poetic essence of this tradition perfectly – indeed so perfectly that I found the formalities of plot resolution at the end of the book to be irritatingly drab and melodramatic by contrast. I guess that's the problem with turning poetry into a novel.

Nevertheless, Bruges-la-Morte is obviously a high point of Symbolist writing, a book that's obsessed with death and always alert to new ways to externalise deep emotions. There is a brooding openness to the supernatural, and a looming architectural presence, which also has clear links with the Gothic. But more importantly it's just beautifully-written: every sentence drops balanced and gorgeous into your head.

For best results, it should be read at dusk, preferably when it's raining outside. Just make sure you have a brisk walk afterwards.

(Oct 2013)
Profile Image for Ian.
705 reviews65 followers
August 12, 2022
I’d long been curious about this book, which turned out to be a novella of just 78 pages in the edition I read, which was in English translation. My edition also had an Introduction of about 20 pages, which annoyingly gave away the whole storyline and thus reduced my enjoyment of the novel. If you happen to come across the same edition as me, published in 1985 with the translation by Philip Mosley, then I recommend you skip the Introduction. I might start doing that as a general rule with novels.

There’s also a short Foreword by the author in which he explains that in the novel, the urban landscapes of Bruges “are no longer mere backdrops or arbitrary descriptions but are fundamentally involved in the plot of the novel.”

In the Middle Ages, Bruges was an economic powerhouse and one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. During the second half of the 20th century its medieval architecture led it to become a magnet for visitors. Rodenbach’s 1892 novel captures the city in between these phases. He portrays it not just as a sleepy backwater town but as somewhere actually tomblike, with deserted streets and lifeless canals, with the main sound of the city being the constant pealing of church bells. The bells are a sign of how much the town is dominated by the Catholic Church. In this novel, Catholicism envelopes the town and its inhabitants.

The lead character, Hugues Viane, is a 40-year-old widower, whose wife died some years ago, but who remains in the throes of extreme, inconsolable grief. He has chosen to move to the “melancholy city” because its landscapes and atmosphere fit his mood of depression. One day, he meets a young woman with a remarkable resemblance to his deceased wife, to the extent that he wonders whether she is a reincarnation. The woman however, is a very different personality. She does not know of Viane’s wife, but quickly senses that she has a power over the man.

Even the Introduction comments that the book has an element of melodrama. I would say that Viane’s passion is so intense as to border on madness, but this level of passion did seem to be more common in 19th century literature.

In my opinion, it is the author’s use of the city of Bruges as a main character that sets this novel apart from other 19th century melodramas, and which makes it a worthwhile read.

August 25, 2014

Hugues Viane has retired to Bruges after the death of his wife of ten years; five years later, he is still unable to put her memory to rest. Indeed, he has sequestered himself in his home, erecting a shrine to his wife; in this room are gathered her portraits and various objects and trinkets, along with a tress of her hair which Viane has placed inside a glass box. Each day he caresses and kisses each item, and by night he takes to the meandering the streets of Bruges whose grey melancholy he feels in tune with, a kind of "spiritual telegraphy between his soul and the grief-stricken towers of Bruges."

As in many symbolist texts, doubling is apparent here: not only is Viane's mood that of the city, and therefore emphasized, but his grief is so obsessive that he chances upon a woman whom he believes to be the striking image of his dead wife. This act of doubling is one in which Georges Rodenbach is extremely interested in that it proves how the dead die twice, the first death being their physical death and the second being when our memories of them begin to fade, causing those mental images to which we cling to no longer be sources of recollection and comfort:
But the faces of the dead, which are preserved in our memory for a while, gradually deteriorate there, fading like a pastel drawing that has not been kept under glass, allowing the chalk to disperse. Thus, within us, our dead die a second time.
Bruges-la-Morte is very much concerned with the vacillation between states of intense joy and utter anguish. In his obsession over Jane, the woman who resembles his dead wife, Viane is embodying this idea of the dead dying twice. While there are moments of some melodramatic intensity characteristic of symbolist work, Rodenbach is also keen on exploring how the life of a small city reacts to a scandal, and it is both the solitary city scenes that drive home the despair of the protagonist and the scenes of townspeople gossiping in the city that demonstrate how the city works in different ways for its inhabitants.

Although he is under "the spell" of this double, and even though he hopes that the likeness "would allow him the infinite luxury of forgetting," Viane can do no such thing, and soon finds himself at an erotic and psychological crossroads at which the "distressing masquerade" he enacts to quell his grief is not enough to sustain the memory of the dead.

Bruges is very much the main character in the novel: "He was already starting to resemble the town. Once more he was the brother in silence and in melancholy of this sorrowful Bruges, his soror dolorosa." The novel is accompanied by photographs of the city to underscore the central role it plays in Viane's state of mourning. Rodenbach is adamant about how living spaces breathe and affect those living there:
Towns above all have a personality, a spirit of their own, an almost externalised character which corresponds to joy, new love, renunciation, widowhood. Each town is a state of mind, a mood which, after only a short stay, communicates itself, spreads to us in an effluvium which impregnates us, which we absorb with the very air.
This idea of the city having an emotional and psychological state of its own is also something Rodenbach explores in the short essay included in the Dedalus edition, "The Death Throes of Towns."Bruges-la-Morte is a symbolist masterpiece; more than that, it is powerful novel about grief and mourning, as well as a treatise on how one's city can reflect one's emotional state, and vice versa.
Profile Image for Jan-Maat.
1,535 reviews1,793 followers
June 2, 2022
I had the idea of reading Bruges la morte and watching the film "In Bruges" to see if there were any similarities between the tragi-comic crime caper and fin de siecle symbolist text.

First I had to order Bruges la morte from the frightful fortress of the library's reserve stacks and then it struck me that it was a little impractical to watch a film and read a book equally attentively at the same time.

In the end I saw the film first then read the book in an old film tie in edition, the thick pages well thumbed interspersed with uninspiring colour plates from the film.

Well ok, so you have guessed that both play out in the same town, but the town also plays a similar role as a liminal space between life and death, or being both dead in the sense that it's medieval heyday has past, but it is living on life support, a zombie town, now with the surface animation of tourism but in Rodenbach's time lacking such basic civic amenities as museums of torture or of chips .

Also in both the same choices lie before the characters; continuity of death in life, meeting a mysterious beautiful woman, or radical transformation.

The chapel of the Holy Blood and indeed the Holy Blood itself plays a role in bringing about the sudden violent conclusion.

But since Bruges la morte, despite the author's name does not feature beer nor American tourists of any weight, I am forced to conclude that plainly there is no connection between the two works and that Rodenbach and McDonagh did not meet in a cafe and collaborate in their writing.


Bruges la morte is the simple everyday story of a man, Hugues Viane, whose wife has died and who resolved to enjoy to the full his sensations of loss and grief and so moves to Bruges, the town which best matches his mood. Where he mostly succeeds in living a withdrawn melancholy existence; only going out in the evenings , having contact only with his flemish housekeeper who is a reservoir of both superstition and rural piety. She appears to be in contrast to her sophisticated French speaking employer, but on the other hand it is he and not her who is the one who has established a shrine to his dead wife in his house. I had thought that there was a contrast between Christian and Pagan modes of being in the story and there is something of Orpheus and Eurydice about the tale. While after the midway point of the novel there are passages in which the main character is moved by medieval religious paintings, goes to churches and religious establishments, and hears a sermon, all of which prepare us for the ending which is precipitated by the procession of the Holy Blood. All this though reminded me of the scene in Clayhanger in which the eponymous hero observing the festival of the Methodist cult of the Christian faith thinks that they are much the same as Hindus (which he does not intend as a compliment). While Hugues has a shrine to his dead wife, Christianity is a faith replete with shrines dedicated to dead people. This feels more like a continuum than an opposition, though Rodenbach might have intended it as a sharp contrast; a false faith versus a true faith, false martyr versus true ones.

Rodenbach treads a fine line and avoids his text tumbling into self parody, it reminded me above all of Andrei Bely's Petersburg which similarly draws upon an identification of the central character with the city, with both character and city representing a way of being. Ticking is important in both books too, though here it is only the clocks with the innocent memento mori of their tick-tock. I can imagine that this might be a fun book to teach: sit down and shud-up, take out your books, you have fifteen minutes to go through chapter two and find all the references to death that you can spot, starting from...now.
Profile Image for Josh.
291 reviews148 followers
October 12, 2022
"When he first came here, Hugues had felt this pale and soothing influence of Bruges and through it had come to resign himself to living on memories alone, to relinquish hope, looking forward to a Good Death...

And now, despite the anxieties of the present, his pain diluted a little, in the evening, in the long, still canals, and he tried to become one more a man in the image and likeness of the town."

After making my way back from a trip to The Netherlands and Belgium, I thought I would reminisce with this novella about Bruges and it did not disappoint. Bruges was probably the high point of my trip as it is a city frozen in time. The scenes that Rodenbach describes of the canals, the cathedrals, the streets, the market square are similar, yet the atmosphere has changed. At the tail end of the 19th century, Bruges wasn't the tourist attraction it is today. Rodenbach's main character Hugues Viane describes a solemnness, a brooding atmosphere of loneliness throughout the city.

Hugues mourns his wife and has moved to this supposed 'dead city' to feel her death. He feels her death as if he's waiting to die. Living in Bruges is the only way to feel death the way he wants to feel it. When things change and he starts to feel something different, the reader should know that will not last for long and an explosive ending awaits.

Rodenbach's writing is poetic, descriptive and evocative. When talking about Notre Dame, Saint Salvator, the Belfry, the Square, Minnewater, the Begijnhof/Beguinage and other notable places, the book sent me back to a place that I cherished. Unlike Hugues, I went there not to die, but to live, to rejoice in a rebirth. My mind is at ease with memories and the nostalgia will be there for many days to come.
Profile Image for Dagio_maya .
896 reviews255 followers
March 6, 2021
Grigio topo

Fine ottocento.
Il vedovo Hugues Viane non si dà pace per la sua perdita.
Sceglie di andare a vivere a Bruges non a caso:

”Un’equazione misteriosa si era creata: alla sposa morta doveva corrispondere una città morta. Il suo lutto immenso esigeva uno scenario adeguato. Solo qui la vita gli era sopportabile. C’era venuto d’istinto. Il mondo, altrove, continuasse pure ad agitarsi, a fremere, ad accendere le sue feste, a intrecciare le sue mille voci. A lui occorrevano un infinito silenzio e un’esistenza tanto monotona da non dargli quasi più la sensazione di vivere.”

Nella quiete cittadina, data dall’assenza di vitalità, Hugues perpetua il ricordo dell’amata conservando e venerando alcune reliquie tra cui una treccia conservata sotto vetro.

Bruges è come la morta poiché anch’essa vive sepolta sotto la pietra e nella rigidità di pensiero delle Beghine.

Come dice l’autore nella prefazione, tuttavia, la città non è solo lo scenario ideale ma protagonista stessa dell’azione:

”In questo studio delle passioni abbiamo voluto comunque e soprattutto evocare una Città, la Città come personaggio necessario, che partecipa agli stati d’animo, consiglia, dissuade, spinge all’azione. Così – come nella realtà – questa Bruges che abbiamo scelta appare quasi umana. Il suo influsso si trasmette a tutti quelli che vi soggiornano. Li modella a immagine dei suoi paesaggi e delle sue campane. Questo volevamo suggerire: è la Città stessa che orienta l’azione; i paesaggi urbani non sono più soltanto fondali dipinti, motivi scelti un po’ arbitrariamente, ma prendono parte anch’essi alla storia.”

L’incontro con una donna assolutamente somigliante alla moglie morta sarà un momento di svolta.

Il concetto di somiglianza quindi torna ad essere centrale in questa classico simbolista del belga Georges Rodenbach (1892).

Hugues vuole perpetuare il suo dolore e trova la città ideale che traspira e rinnova quotidianamente la sua tristezza.
Jane Scott -la donna così somigliante alla morta- concretizza un ideale, ossia quello di rappresentare una novità perpetuando al tempo stesso il bisogno dell’abitudine:

” L’uomo si stanca di possedere lo stesso bene. Non si apprezza la felicità, così come la salute, se non attraverso la sua negazione. E l’amore stesso consiste nella propria intermittenza.
Ora, la somiglianza è precisamente ciò che armonizza in noi queste due esigenze, dando voce a entrambe e congiungendole in un punto imprecisato. La somiglianza è la linea d’orizzonte fra l’abitudine e la novità.
Questa particolare raffinatezza opera soprattutto in amore: con l’incanto del sopraggiungere di una donna nuova che somigli all’antica. “

Ben presto, tuttavia, Hugues riapre gli occhi accorgendosi che era tutta un’illusione.
Le differenze si accentuano e lui desidera tornare a perpetuare la sua sofferenza.
Un meccanismo, tuttavia, si è messo in atto e il dramma è il solo l’epilogo che può avere una storia grigio topo.

Curiosità: il romanzo fu spunto per il film “Vertigo” (“La donna che visse due volte”) di Alfred Hitchcock.
Profile Image for Chiamartini95.
67 reviews536 followers
April 4, 2017
Huges é un uomo dall'animo triste e angoscioso, incapace di affrontare il lutto della moglie amata vive nella sua ombra, passando gli anni della sua vita fra le reliquie della defunta.
Vivendo in un limbo fra vita e morte, le giornate di Huges scorrono impassibili, allietate esclusivamente dal riflesso dei sentimenti dell'uomo nella città in cui vive: Bruges.
Bruges infatti altro non è che la raffigurazione dell'animo di Huges, grigia nebulosa, malinconica ma allo stesso tempo affascinante Bruges diviene agli occhi del protagonista la citta dei non-vivi, di coloro che, spezzati dai dolori dalla vita, attendono pazientemente la morte.
In uno dei tanti momenti di malinconia per le grigie strade di Bruges, Huges ha un apparizione, spettatore di quello che pare essere un evento miracoloso rivede la propria amata passeggiare; egli sa che non può essere lei bensì semplicemente una donna molto somigliante eppure dentro di lui nasce l'idea di poter rivedere in quella estranea la propria amata.
Huges entra quindi in una spirale di follia, inebriato dalla ricomparsa della propria moglie vive nell'illusione che quella sconosciuta sia la sua copia tornata in vita, tuttavia l'uomo presto si dovrà scontrare con la realtà uscendone dilianato e sconfitto.
Classico della letteratura belga, questo romanzo è una perla che era andata perduta della letteratura decadentista, attraverso una prosa poetica e malinconia siamo catapultati in una città grigia e sofferente che influenza la vita di un uomo altrettanto buia e inquieta.
Profile Image for Ulysse.
271 reviews101 followers
November 18, 2022
Lately I’ve taken to roaming
The streets of a city so dead
That even the sea and her moaning
Long since hath retreated and fled

Along old canals where the waters
Lie still ‘neath a low sullen sky
Th’ occasional soft pitter patter
Can be heard of the lone passerby

Here I walk every night of my grieving
A shade among shades in the dark
With the image of mine own true Darling
Locked deep in the shades of my heart

A long tress keep I of her golden
Hair in a showcase of glass
Which I placed near my bed on the morning
Her soul from her body did pass

Every night before falling asleep
The braid I remove from its case
And holding it close to my lips
I recall Her angelical face

One evening as I was out walking
My thoughts in a halo of frost
I happened to look at one passing
—A creature of flesh or a ghost?

O Mary O Mother of Jesus
I swear it was She that I saw
Clear as the star-sheen above us
It was my Beloved I saw!

Well that’s about all for this review
I won’t give the ending away
For everyone knows that a spoiler
Is a crime worse than foregoing

Two stars is the rating I give this
And that is a generous rating
For this is a book I shan’t miss
Nor end up loving or hating
Profile Image for P.E..
753 reviews508 followers
October 26, 2020

À la mort de l'épouse qu'il adore, Hugues Viane vient de l'étranger pour s'installer à Bruges. Là, il passe des années dans le culte du souvenir de la défunte. La ville redouble ce deuil où Hugues tient à s'ensevelir, ne vivant que dans l'espoir de rejoindre la disparue à sa mort. Un soir, à la sortie de Notre-Dame, il rencontre Jeanne, une jeune comédienne qui ressemble effroyablement à sa compagne. Il cherche alors à lier connaissance avec elle. Cela ne se fera pas sans que tout ce que la ville compte de dévots le sache.

Le quai du Rosaire où réside Hugues Viane dans Bruges-la-Morte, ici vers 1900

- Temps en suspension, mort vivante. La ville personifie la morte.
- Peinture des états d'âmes mouvants qui se projettent sur le décor de la ville et forment un paysage psychologique d'une certaine richesse et d'une certaine homogénéité, réseau de connotations, d'échos historiques, architecturaux, picturaux...
- Le vague à l'âme de Hugues, les désirs inassouvis de la servante Barbe, les ambitions de la danseuse Jeanne. La ville contient les émois et est construite par les émois de ceux qui arpentent ses rues.
- Voyeurisme, commérages, jeux de regards, jeux de miroirs.
- Dérision et mascarade.
- Poids de la religion, des défunts, du passé qui ne passe pas ici (Charles le Téméraire, la légende des cygnes que Bruges est condamnée à nourrir de toute éternité en punition d'une faute...)
- Le rituel, le sacré, le sacrilège.

Crédits photo : Willems Marc (Visit Bruges)

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Записки из подполья
Nouvelles Histoires extraordinaires
The King in Yellow
Contes cruels

Paysages psychologiques :
Le Loup des steppes

Les mille mises en scène de la mémoire :
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Obsession de la réincarnation :
Neige de printemps
Chevaux échappés : La mer de la fertilité II
Le Temple de l'aube : La mer de la fertilité III
L'ange en décomposition : la mer de la fertilité IV

Inspiration indirecte de Vertigo de Alfred Hitchcock.
August 3, 2017
A time of melancholic desperation. Everything appears reminiscent of the loss of our loved one. It is not a projection of our loss but that we chose to live here, a place which occupies our feelings, moods. The inner and outer has become dissoluble. Each is the other and enables us now to dedicate ourselves not to the stopping of life but to the dedication of our life to the devoted mourning of our dead love. This is a religion which is supported by the mementos of the beloved dead wife including a tress of her golden hair, where homage is paid daily. A solitary life in a large house, each day repetitively scheduled including walks through the brooding empty streets of Bruges where the only occasional passers by are elderly women, bent and hooded apparitions of the march of death. The town appears in its meager population to be a summonings of those waiting for time to pass without disruption to end in a, good death.

Poetic and ethereal we march on to the peal of church bells, the towers and belfry, the grayness of the town’s substance. Only forty already we are stooped over in our shuffled downtrodden walk. The woman we see impossibly resembles our loved one; in appearance, gait, gesture. We follow.

Rodenbach has created a land where inner and outer is emphasized through the distance of the third person narrator yet inclusive is the inner workings of the characters. All this set in a world where what is left out is as important as what is mentioned in constructing the febrile, tenuous, atmosphere so important in the telling of this tale. Little is mentioned to us of the lost beloved wife other than the mementos and his recall of their happiness for ten years. The mementos are arranged in the house’s sitting room. All we know about the house is its largeness and its gloom, housing him and his elderly female servant. His, ours, Bruges, is not a concrete world but a world of resemblances. An entombment into a dust of memories.

Yet he, we, follow the woman, the flesh and blood woman into a theater. She is not seated in the audience. As the opera begins we see her on the stage. This is a world created for the stage as this book is an entire world created for us, by us. Unusual. Recommended.
Profile Image for Radioread.
112 reviews105 followers
January 14, 2020
Mallarme, Ölü Brugge hakkında bir şiir-roman demiş; ben mest edici bir güzellikle birbirini tamamlayan tüm o gri-siyah sözcükleriyle ayrıca bir tablo-roman olarak da gördüm onu.

Profile Image for Nate D.
1,578 reviews984 followers
August 10, 2012
The morbid obsession of an inconsolable bereavement, and the dual mapping of that loss onto city streets, fog-bound and empty, and onto a new living object, innocent of the simulacrum she's been forced to become. Or the book doesn't really see her as innocent, casting her as a somewhat blandly archetypal manipulative harlot, but really who wouldn't fair poorly under the projected image of a lover who is unable to see her at all behind the other he has lost? Still, the streets of Bruges have a slow-burning mystery here, and a well-wrought background of fanatical Catholic disapproval that builds to fever in the culminating Holy Blood procession. Eerie and poetic, this was a key text of the Belgian Symbolists, admired by Huysmans and Mallarme with obvious cause.

Incidentally, this edition was published by Atlas Press, committed translators and reissuers of so many otherwise lost surrealist, symbolist, and dada texts. Their edition also reproduces Rodenbach's photos of Bruges, as they appeared in the original publication. Symbolist painter Fernand Knopff, also of Bruges, did the original frontispiece, and later did his own versions, ghostly and elegaic, of several of the photos:

Profile Image for [P].
145 reviews499 followers
December 24, 2015
Funny how, years later, I can still picture that one pose, how everything else has fallen away – all the bitterness, the arguments, the boredom – and left only that. I didn’t even see it first hand, I saw only her reflection in the surface of the mirror. I was sitting on her bed, and she, with her back to me, was grabbing at her short hair and pouting at herself; and I don’t know, I can’t recall, if I even found it beautiful at the time, but, after the break-up, this probably unreliable memory became, for a short while, an obsession, and the standard against which I judged all other women’s looks. How silly of me. In my mind I thought I was paying tribute to her, and yet in reality I was doing her an injustice, reducing her to a single image, one that no one, not even she, could have lived up to. If I see pictures of her now, which I do very infrequently, I just cannot square them with that young woman reflected in the mirror, who, I’m now sure, never existed anywhere but in my head.

Generally speaking, I’m not one for living in the past, for desperately scrambling after something that has gone. It’s too much like chasing a runaway donkey. It has a taste of the absurd about it. But I was nineteen at the time of the above anecdote, and nineteen is an absurd age. Besides, grief does strange things to you. No, she didn’t die, but the end of a relationship is a kind of death, a little death. It felt that way, anyway. I was in mourning; well, until I got over it, of course. Some people, however, never manage to do that, they cannot move beyond tragic or upsetting events. People like Hugues Viane, the central character in Georges Rodenbach’s atmospheric masterpiece Bruges-la-Morte.

“It was Bruges-la-Morte, the dead town entombed in its stone quais, with the arteries of its canals cold once the great pulse of the sea had ceased beating in them.”

In the opening pages Hugues is described as a solitary man with nothing to occupy his time. This, it soon becomes clear, is because his wife of ten years is dead. Or, more accurately, it is because, as hinted, he cannot get over his wife’s death, for he has, obviously, not been forced to spend the last five years alone, it is a kind of choice. Hugues wallows in his grief; he moves to Bruges, because it strikes him as a melancholy place, he contemplates suicide [but won’t go through with due to the small chance that this will prevent him renewing his relationship with his wife in heaven], and he is still wearing mourning for his spouse half a decade after she passed away. Moreover, he will not throw or give away her clothes or things, or change the arrangement of the home they shared, for this, he thinks, will, in a way, mean losing her again, or another part of her. It is, then, no surprise, although it is rather macabre, that his most treasured possession is a large chunk of her hair, which he removed from the corpse and keeps in a glass case.

On the basis of all this one might legitimately call Hugues obsessive, or even insane. Certainly there is, whatever you want to call it, something unhealthy and peculiar about his behaviour even at this early stage of the narrative. However, as things progress, one is left in no doubt at all as to how dangerous his frame of mind has become, as he first follows and then begins a kind of relationship with a woman who he believes is the very image of his dead wife. Yet it is to Rodenbach’s credit that one, or I at least, still feels some level of sympathy for his protagonist, even in the weirdest and most excruciating moments, such as when he attempts to make this doppelgänger try on one of his wife’s dresses. Bruges-la-Morte is less than one hundred pages long, and so the author did not have much to work with, but I never stopped believing in Hugues; he, and his grief, always felt kosher to me.

[Portrait of Georges Rodenbach by Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer, 1895]

While the trajectory of Hugues’ relationship with this look-alike is what gives the novel momentum and tension, and I’d argue that all great novels need those things, it is not what provided me with the most enjoyment. First of all, Rodenbach’s prose is fantastic. I have seen it described as ornate, but it never struck me that way, especially in the context of when the book was published, 1892, a time when authors really did know a thing or two about overcooking their sentences. For me, Rodenbach wrote with clarity, and insight and tenderness. His prose is that special kind that, if I can write this without too much cringing, glides along the page, with grace and absolutely without pretension.

I was also impressed by how he worked his themes into the narrative, in a way that is touching and engaging without being too heavy-handed. Bruges-la-Morte is, of course, primary concerned with death, but rather than focussing on corpses and funerals and all that, he chooses to write about change and decay and memory [which are all, or can be, related to death, of course]. I have mentioned some of this stuff already, but it is worth exploring in more detail. Take the locks of hair, Rodenbach notes how, while the body slowly disintegrates, the hair remains constant, it doesn’t change or fade, it, in effect, challenges death. I was very much taken with that.

Or consider how it is said that the face of Jane, the look-alike, becomes that of his wife, how, to be specific, after seeing Jane her face actually replaces that of his wife in his memory. We have all, I’m sure, experienced that strange and cruel phenomena, whereby we cannot properly remember what someone looks like, where, after a period of time, their appearance starts to become fuzzy in our minds. This is what happened to Hugues, so while he thinks that Jane is a deadringer for his dead love, in actual fact it is only ever Jane he sees; his wife, in essence, becomes Jane, not the other way around. I thought that was brilliant. Moreover, the marriage, we’re told, was extremely happy, was one where the passion and love never diminished over time. Therefore, one wonders whether this is simply how Hugues remembers it, rather than it being strictly the case, for his wife has become, in his mind, a kind of saint. Indeed, he literally worships her memory and treats her things like relics.

[Bruges-la-Morte, when originally published, featured a number of photographs of Bruges, including this one]

I hope I am managing to give some sense of how complex, moving and satisfying a book this is. There is, moreover, still much that I have not covered. I haven’t, for example, mentioned how mirroring plays such a prominent role in the text. Yes, of course, there is Jane and how she is the wife’s double, but there is more to it than that. At the very beginning of the book Hugues house is said to be reflected in the water of the canal outside. There is also much made of how Bruges itself mirrors the wife, how it is a dead city, and how Hugues needed a dead city to represent the dead woman. I must, before I finish, cover this in a little more detail, for Bruges-la-Morte is often described as one of the great ‘novels about cities,’ similar, in this way, to Ulysses or Bely’s Petersburg. Yet, without wishing to compare the quality of the three books, all of which I love, I would say that this one gave me more of a sense of place than the others. Bruges, we’re told, is where radiant colours are neutralised and reduced to greyish drowsiness, like a pastel drawing left uncovered. Which is, let’s be honest, fucking brilliant.

“Every town is a state of mind.”

Rodenbach takes us down the narrow streets, upon which falls constant rain, to the Église Notre-Dame [not the one in Paris], along the canals, and at every step there is an interplay between place and man, each intensifies the inherent sadness or bleakness of the other.

Even Rodenbach's tomb is amazing.
Profile Image for Svetolik Taštinski.
28 reviews7 followers
February 18, 2017
Kako kaže autor pogovora, Radivoje Konstantinović, krajnje jednostavna radnja ovog romana podseća na antičku tragediju. Tekst je protkan jakim simbolima, i kao takav, ima snažnu psihoanalitičku podlogu. I iz naslova se već može pretpostaviti da grad igra važnu ulogu u formiranju atmosfere romana, gde on praktično prerasta u zaseban lik (ili zasebnog lika – kad je već personifikovan, hah). Ig Vijan, koji je (uz grad) glavni lik, stapa se sa slikom Briža, poistovećuje se s njim, emocionalno je rasparen i ne uspeva da prežali smrt žene. Osim toga, u svemu deluje opsesivno, i to me je u nekim trenucima podsećalo na Andrićevog profesora V. (pripovetka „Znakovi”). Da vam ne bih oktrio o čemu se konkretno radi, reći ću samo da Ig pokušava da stvori način na koji bi, da se izrazim lingvistički, dao oblik svemu onome što ga vezuje za ženu, a to će se dešavati nakon što upozna drugu osobu koja neobično liči na njegovu umrlu dragu. Tada do izražaja dolazi i fantastično u romanu, kroz način na koji Ig zamišlja i oseća stvarnost, a očituje se kroz njegovu opsesivnost.

Prvim delom romana dominira atmosfera koja je možda na rubu patetike, ali takav početak ispostavio se vrlo funkcionalnim u odnosu na ono što sledi, te ga ne bih odredio kao manjkavost stila. Tek sam se nakon čitanja, tj. posle vraćanja na ono što sam beležio, uz sugestije iz pogovora, jače osvestio o neke detalje iz vrlo podrobnih opisa gradskog pejzaža, koji su važni da bi se moglo kretati među nekim motivima, odnosno simbolima koje Rodenbah provlači kroz ceo roman.

Nakon čitanja, naročito me je zaintrigiralo saznanje iz pogovora o tome da Gaston Bašlar analizira ovaj roman u svojoj knjizi „Voda i snovi”. Možda ta informacija zaintrigira i vas. :)
Profile Image for Ingrid.
80 reviews27 followers
September 18, 2016
Capolavoro di neanche cento pagine, che andrebbe obbligatoriamente letto nelle scuole, come uno dei grandi romanzi della letteratura simbolista e decadente quale è.
Ingiustamente poco conosciuto (sebbene abbia profondamente influenzato i "nostri" scrittori crepuscolari), lo scrittore belga francofono Rodenbach (1855-1898) ha colto perfettamente le sensazioni, le emozioni, l'essenza delle cose di una città incantevole come Bruges, che io ho visto più volte e più volte ho amato.
Incentrato sul tema del doppio, della memoria e della somiglianza, Bruges la morta è un lungo racconto più che un romanzo. Un vedovo inconsolabile si è rifugiato a Bruges, eleggendo quella città malinconica e come essa stessa morta, a simbolo della moglie scomparsa, di cui conserva gelosamente le reliquie. Finché un giorno non incontra per caso una donna nell'aspetto incredibilmente simile alla morta.
Fin dalle prime pagine mi ha colpito l’intimo rapporto tra Hugues e la città di Bruges che incarna i suoi rimpianti, il dolore, la consapevolezza di una vita senza più senso. Le torri, le vecchie mura, le chiese univano la loro voce per nutrire il desiderio di morte dell’uomo, la sua impazienza della tomba. Solo la religione gli vietava di darsi la morte perché Dio l’avrebbe allontanato per sempre da Sé e lui avrebbe perso l’ultima possibilità che aveva di rivedere l'amata moglie.
Come molti hanno notato, tante sono le somiglianze con la storia di "Vertigo" di Alfred Hitchcock, a testimonianza dell'influsso che Bruges la morta ha avuto nel '900 sia in letteratura, sia nella musica, sia nel cinema.
Da leggere assolutamente.
Profile Image for Roberta.
1,710 reviews278 followers
May 24, 2019

Ok, era tanto che avevo in giro questo libro, e a parte la Nothombe non conosco scrittori belgi, e poi pare sia un classico, e insomma va letto... solo che a fine lettura non so bene che pensare. Il travaglio di Hugues mi lascia abbastanza indifferente, però la descrizione della città mi ha fatto venir voglia di partire subito. La vicenda è senza tempo, nonostante la prima edizione sia del 1892: per me potrebbe essere stata scritta ieri.
Leggo su Wikipedia che potrebbe essere una rivisitazione del mito di Euridice: ci sta. Anni e anni di letture, dai miti greci a Stephen King, mi hanno insegnato che un amore morto è meglio che rimanga tale. I ritornanti, siano essi il defunto o una persona a loro molto somigliante, riescono sempre a deludere i vivi.
Profile Image for Chiara.
241 reviews244 followers
October 14, 2018
Per un libro che viene presentato come "una lettura assolutamente indimenticabile", devo ammettere con orgoglio che sono riuscita a dimenticare tutto benissimo.

(a distanza di 5 mesi)
Profile Image for S̶e̶a̶n̶.
830 reviews316 followers
February 28, 2019
He needed a dead town to correspond to his dead wife. His deep mourning demanded such a setting. Life would only be bearable for him there. It was instinct that had brought him here. He would leave the world elsewhere to its bustle and buzz, to its glittering balls, its welter of voices. He needed infinite silence and an existence that was so monotonous it almost failed to give him the sense of being alive. (p. 30)

He possessed what one might call a 'sense of resemblance', an extra sense, frail and sickly, which linked things to each other by a thousand tenuous threads, relating trees to the Virgin Mary, creating a spiritual telegraphy between his soul and the grief-stricken towers of Bruges. (p. 60)

In Bruges a miracle of the climate has produced some mysterious chemistry of the atmosphere, an interpenetration which neutralises too-bright colours, reduces them to a uniform tone of reverie, to an amalgam of greyish drowsiness. (p. 61)

The melancholy of the close of these all-too-brief winter afternoons! Drift of mist gathering. He felt the pervasive fog flooding his soul as well, all his thoughts blurred, drowned in grey lethargy. (p. 89)
In retrospect. winter's lingering finale was probably not the right time for me to have read this classic work of 'dead-city prose', the grey weight of which has now seeped into my own leaden consciousness. And yet would it have been any better to read such an homage to melancholy amid the burgeoning life-promise of spring, or worse, during the heated obscenity of summer? Perhaps autumn's decaying splendor would instead have been the ideal setting in which to first dwell upon the lifeless calm of the canals of Bruges. Alas, I will never know.
Profile Image for Ray.
568 reviews112 followers
March 25, 2021
I really liked this book. It has a contemporary feel and light tone that belies the fact that it was written in 1892.

Rich widower moves to Bruges. He is sad about his dead wife, and just a little unhinged by grief - he has a shrine to the wife. He sees a dancer who is the dead spit of his deceased spouse, so of course he starts up a relationship with her. It gets a bit icky when he asks her to put on the wifes dresses - I suppose we should be grateful he didn't ask her to play dead. In time the doppelganger facade begins to crack, as the dancer can never live up to the idolised

Set pre WW1 in a Bruges that is devoutly Catholic. The affair between the widower and dancer is soon common knowledge, and widely condemned by godfearing folk.

Lots of walking around in the rain feeling morose. Some wonderful black and white photos of old Bruges really help set the scene.

The affair does not end well.

Soundtrack : Love will tear us apart - and the cover photo on the 12 inch is perfect


Worth a read
Profile Image for aithusa.
72 reviews14 followers
February 14, 2018
Bellissimo romanzo nelle sue tinte cupe e inquietanti, con una Bruges che con i suoi vicoli silenziosi e malinconici, i canali plumbei, il suo grigiore, è in realtà vivissima nel suo essere morta grazie alla prosa di Rodenbach.
Da qualche parte ho letto che questo romanzo è "una celebrazione lirica di una città e un'inquietante allegoria di una condizione umana e culturale" penso sia una definizione perfetta di questo romanzo.
Profile Image for Noah.
442 reviews45 followers
April 6, 2021
Das tote Brügge" handelt von einem Witwer, der sich nach dem frühen Tod seiner großen Liebe ins in der Vergangenheit zurückgebliebene Brügge zurückzieht, um sich seiner Trauer hinzugeben. Auf der Straße entdeckt er eine Doppelgängerin seiner verstorbenen Frau, eine Balletttänzerin, die er zu seiner Geliebten macht. Er stört sich immer mehr an ihren Unterschieden zum Original und sie nutzt ihn aus und betrügt ihn. Als sie sich schließlich über die als Reliquie geheiligten Haare der Frau lustig macht, erwürgt er sie mit diesen.

Aus heutiger Sicht ist kaum nachvollziehbar, wie dieses Werk zum Schlüsselwerk des Symbolismus wurde, zahllose Kunstwerke beeinflusste und den bis heute ungebrochenen Tourismus in die schöne Stadt auslöste. Es ist eher eine nicht atypische Kurzgeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts mit gut gesetzter Pointe mit wenig Tiefgang, überzogenen Charaktären und einem Stadtbild, das zwar Brügge heißt aber genauso gut auch jede andere im Mittelalter steckengebliebene Stadt hätte sein können.
Profile Image for Eadweard.
602 reviews492 followers
February 17, 2015
This is going straight to my Favorites shelf.

" Ten years of this happiness, ten years hardly noticed, so quickly had they passed. Then his young wife had died, just as she reached her thirtieth year, confined for a few short weeks to her bed, which quickly became her deathbed, an image that would remain with him for ever: faded and white, like the candle burning at her head, the woman he had adored for the beauty of her radiant complexion, of her eyes, black, dilated pupils set in mother of pearl, their darkness contrasting with the amber yellow of her hair, hair which, loosened, covered the whole of her back in long, wavy tresses. The Madonnas of the Primitives have similar flowing locks, descending in calm ripples. During the last days of her illness, this sheaf had been braided into a long plait and Hugues had cut it off from the recumbent corpse. Is not death merciful in this? It destroys everything, but leaves the hair intact. The eyes, the lips, everything crumbles and disintegrates. The hair does not even lose its colour. It is in that alone that we live on.

Even now, after five years, the tresses of his dead wife that he had kept had scarcely faded at all, despite all the salt tears shed."

"In this solitude, that was both evening and autumnal, with the wind sweeping up the remaining leaves, he felt more than ever the desire to have finished with life and impatience for the tomb. It seemed that a shadow was cast from the towers over his soul, a word of counsel reached him from the old walls, a whispering voice rose from the water – the water coming to him as it came to Ophelia, according to what Shakespeare’s gravediggers tell. More than once he had felt this seduction. He had heard the slow persuasion of the stones, he had truly discerned the nature of things there, not to survive the death all around. He had thought long and hard about killing himself.

That woman, oh, how he had adored her! He still felt her eyes on him, still sought after her voice, now fled to the far horizon."

"All this coalesces in one profound mortuary impression which little by little the town reveals to us and which is sustained even here in the sombre cathedral where reside those moving tombs of Charles the Bold, lying on his back, hands folded in prayer, feet upon a lion, symbolising strength, and of Mary of Burgundy, in a gown of marble, her feet resting on a heraldic greyhound, symbol of fidelity. And so many other tombs: all the slabs are memorial stones, with skulls, names chipped away, inscriptions already eaten into as if by lips of stone. Here death itself is expunged by death!"
Profile Image for Cemre.
696 reviews469 followers
November 29, 2019
Jane altın sarısı saçlarıyla Hugues'ün dikkatini nasıl çektiyse kitap kapağındaki bu ışıltılı altın sarısı saçlar benim de dikkatimi çekti. Kitapçıya gittiğimde kitabı elime aldım, arka kapağı okudum, yerine koydum. Bir dahaki gidişlerimdeki yine aynısını yaptım. En sonunda da kitabı satın aldım. Önceki seferler gibi yapıp kitabı yerine koysaydım, almasaydım ve bu nedenle kitabı okumasaydım hayatımda bir şey değişir miydi? Hayır. Bu kitabı okumamak benim için bir eksiklik olur muydu? Ne yazık ki hayır.

Kitabın fikri, yani hikâyeyle beraber hikâyenin geçtiği Bruges fotoğraflarına yer vermek, dönemi için yenilikçi ve hoş bir fikir; fakat kitabı bitirdiğimde fark ettim ki fotoğraflar olmasa da bir eksiklik hissetmezdim; çünkü fotoğrafların benim okuma serüvenime bir katkısı olmadı. Ayrıca kitabın hikâyesinin de maalesef beni çok etkilediğini söyleyemiyorum. Bunun nedenlerinden biri belki de sembolizmden çok hoşlanmamam. Bir diğeri ise kesinlikle kitabın ön sözü mahiyetindeki yazı oldu. Henüz kitabı okumadan tüm kitabı anlatan "sunuş" yazısı neyi okuyacağınızı bilerek kitaba başlamanıza ve kitabın tüm tadının tuzunun kaçmasına neden oluyor. Sayın yayınevleri, niye bu tür yazıları ısrarla "ön söz" olarak ekliyorsunuz? Son söz olarak ekleseniz de merak duygusunu öldürmeseniz olmaz mı?

Sonuç olarak çok sevmedim; fakat yazarın "benzerliğe" dair bir yorumu var, onu mutlaka paylaşmak istiyorum:

"Benzerlik, insan doğasının birbiriyle çelişen iki ihtiyacına karşılık gelir: Alışkanlık ve yenilik. Alışkanlık yasası, varlığın kendi ritmidir. ...Öte yandan, yenilik isteği de insan doğasının en temel ihtiyaçlarından biridir. İnsan sürekli aynı şeylere sahip olmaktan sıkılır. Mutluluktan, tıpkı sağlıktan olduğu gibi, zevk almamızın nedeni onun sürekli aynı kalmamasıdır. ...Benzerlik de tam olarak alışkanlık ve yeniliği uzaklaştırır, onları dengeler ve konumu bilinmeyen bir noktada buluşturur. Benzerlik, alışkanlık ve yeniliğin ufuk çizgisidir" (s.119-120).
Profile Image for Shawn.
793 reviews228 followers
May 14, 2010
BRUGES LA MORTE is a slim novel telling the story of a man who, mourning his dead wife, moves to the Belgian city of Bruges, a city seemingly designed to mope in. Mist and fog blanket the cobblestone causeways and chilly canals watched over by brooding stone cathedrals from whose towers peal endless, mournful bells.

You may think I'm being satirical but, actually, this is a great, atmospheric read. Our narrator is shocked to pass a woman in the street who looks exactly liked his dead wife (this book is sometimes cited as a inspiration for the book that inspired VERTIGO). After casting around for her fruitlessly in the gloomy streets, he finally finds her and starts up a relationship, albeit a slightly awkward one as it has to incorporate his fetishistic shrine to her already passed predecessor. And things get a little more complicated when her character is discovered to be nothing like the pure, sainted memory of the wife, as this new version is nothing but a common *actress* (hiss the word with me!) who dares to do things like have fun and dance around in the clothes of the ever-lost "Lenore". What happens to a fetishist when he finally gets what he wants, but it's not exactly what he wants (because what he really wants is for his fixation to never change, and thus be inert and dead)? You may be right if you guess....

Worth searching out for those wanting a nice gloomy masterpiece of dark imagination that touches on the decadent and fantastic.
Profile Image for Sümeyye  Yıldız.
136 reviews7 followers
January 30, 2020
Ruh yaşadığı şehrin rengine bürünüyor. Hugues.. Bir günah çıkartma ayininde koca şehir dinleyen ama affetmeyen bir rahibe dönüşüyor. Gri kapşonlu koca bir rahibe. Günah anlatısı ve şehir, neyin içindeysek bize ancak o şey görünüyor ve baskın oluyor. 'yort kitap' tan çıkan kitap, Roza Hakmen'in çevirisi ve Selim Ileri'nin son sözüyle daha da değer kazanıyor. Eşini kaybetmiş bir adamın matem haline yakışır bir şehirde kaybettiği eşine çok benzeyen Jane ile karşılaşması ve onda o eski ölüyü aramasının takıntısını okuyoruz. Saplantılı, huzuru kaçıran ama bilinen bir hikaye. Brugge taşrası ve inançlı yüzünün adama günahını hatırlatması. Kitap boyunca şehirden eşyaya doğru etrafta olan herşeyle insan arasında bağlantı kurulması bir şehri metnin ana karakterine eş olarak karşımıza çıkarıyor.

"Mutlak unutuş! Yeniden başlangıçlar! Zaman taşsız bir yatakta, yokuş aşağı akar... Sanki, daha hayattayken, ölümsüz hayat yaşanır. "

"Benzerlikler daima çizgilerde ve bütündedir. Ayrıntılar didiklenirse herşey farklılaşır".
Profile Image for Antonella Imperiali.
1,082 reviews103 followers
October 16, 2016
Un'atmosfera suggestiva e suggestionabile, quella di Bruges.
Con i suoi colori spenti, il cielo sempre velato e pesante, la pioggerella che entra nell'anima, i canali, le rive, gli argini con alberi affamati di luce, i cigni con le loro ali d'angelo, i vicoli stretti e tortuosi, le vecchie beghine che sembrano fantasmi lievi nella bruma serale con i loro mantelli neri di panno...
Dolore, rimpianto, disperazione, ossessione, solitudine, illusione, amore, delusione, rabbia, follia, con un sottofondo di religione che permea la sua vita: questo il cammino di Hugues Viane, vedovo quarantenne. Il tutto sotto l'occhio vigile di una città morta e grigia, come Bruges (tra l'altro, bellissima!) che detta le regole del vivere/non vivere, in attesa della fine.
Il senso di eternità che si respira in questo breve romanzo, leggendo, mi ha fatto pensare a Oscar Wilde con il suo Dorian Gray; e un po' anche al nostro D'Annunzio: un romanticismo decadente, crepuscolare, affascinante con la sua aria quasi esoterica, che appanna il senso vero della vita, quella vita che, nonostante tutto, nonostante noi, continua.
Bellissima, tra l'altro, la descrizione del suono delle campane che annunciano una processione: sembra che risuonino nelle orecchie come se fossi lì ad assistere, ad occhi chiusi. Coinvolgente e commovente.
Intrigante, molto.
Sicuramente da leggere.

Ancora una cosa: la copertina è semplicemente stupenda. Mi sorridono affettuosamente gli occhi, ogni volta che la guardo.
Profile Image for Bern.
69 reviews1 follower
October 19, 2019
Olmadı, sevemedim. Yıllar önce üç haftamı geçirdiğim, beni büyüleyen Brugge ile ilgili bu kitabı ne umutlarla almıştım. Üstelik Everest Yayınlarının "Modern Klasikler" serisinden ne kadar memnun kaldığımı, yeni yazar ve eserleri keşfettiğimden bunca bahsetmişken. Eserin çıkış noktası aslında çok güzel, varlıklı ve soylu bir adam karısını kaybettikten sonra inzivaya çekilip Brugge'a yerleşiyor ve karısına neredeyse tıpatıp benzeyen bir kadına saplantılı bir ilgi duyuyor. İşin güzel ve ilginç yanı, kitap ilerlerken olay örgüsüne (kahramanların nerede ne yaptıklarına) o ana ve o mekana dair eski bir Brugge fotoğrafı eşlik ediyor, yani yazar seneler (hatta yüzyıllar sonrasında) okuyucuya bir nevi nostalji duygusu yaşatmakla yaratıcı bir çaba içine girmiş. Ama ben bu çalışmayı değil roman, novella olarak bile göremedim; belki de Hıristiyan kültürü hakkında yeterli bilgim olmadığındandır, erkek kahramanın kişisel ve dinsel sorgulamalarını anlayamadığımdandır. Bu şekilde kitabı ve kendi okurluğumu aklamaya çalışsam da, kitaptaki epitopu üç kahramanın kimlikleri havada kalıyor. Buna ek olarak, kitabın önsözü o kadar ayrıntıya giriyor ki, benim spoiler başlığı altında yazdığımdan çok daha fazla detay vererek (hatta kitabın sonunu anlatarak) okuyucunun hevesini kursağında bırakıyor. Değerlendirmem sadece ve sadece Brugge fotoğrafları ve yazarın yaratıcı fikri üzerinden oldu.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jim.
2,031 reviews666 followers
December 15, 2012
This short novel bears a startling resemblance to Alfred Hitchcock's film Vertigo and to the Boileau and Narcejac novel upon which it is based D'Entre les Morts). Having lost his wife, Hugues Viane moves to the melancholy city of Bruges in Belgium where he lives a somber life morosely contemplating his loss some five years ago. His house has become, in effect, a museum dedicated to her with the same furniture, the clothing, paintings, and -- most highly prized of all -- a braided blonde tress from her head. As author Georges Rodenbach writes in the opening chapters:
Equally beautiful and beloved in its former days, the city was the virtual incarnation of Hugues's own loss. Bruges was his wife, while she was Bruges. Their destinies were joined together. This was Bruges-la-Morte, the dead city, entombed in its stone quays, the arteries of its canals chilled to death at the cessation of the great heartbeat of the sea. [Rodenbach refers to the fact that Bruges was once a seaport.]
As in the Hitchcock film, Viane runs into the living image of his wife -- a dancer from Lille named Jane Scott. He starts seeing her, to the scandal of the locals who are familiar with him. What happens is that our hero wants to see in Jane a replacement for the lost wife (who is never named, but ever present, in the book). He even takes a trunk of old clothing to the apartment he has rented for Jane and tries to make her over in his wife's image.

As in Vertigo when Madeleine Elster refuses to assume the persona that Scottie wants her to, Jane resists the transformation. But whereas Madeleine really was the same person, Jane Scott is a different individual altogether. And the difference becomes more noticeable as time passes:
Hugues had experienced a great disillusionment since the day he had that strange whim of putting Jane in one of his wife's old-fashioned dresses. He had gone too far. Through wanting to unite the two women, their resemblance had diminished. The delusion was possible so long as they remained far removed from each other, separated by the mist of death. Drawn too close together, the differences appeared.
There is a climactic scene during a famous religious procession which Jane wishes to view from Hugues's balcony. When she appears at the window, the town is scandalized; and Hugues pulls her back. What happens next you will have to find out from this unfortunately neglected little book, which it will take you only an hour or so to read.

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