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Tydskrif vir Letterkunde

Print version ISSN 0041-476X

Abstract

RENDERS, Luc. In black and white: a bird's eye overview of Flemish prose on the Congo. Tydskr. letterkd. [online]. 2009, vol.46, n.1, pp. 109-122. ISSN 0041-476X.

This article provides an overview of the literary prose written in Dutch about the Congo, the former Belgian colony. The Congo was ruled over by king Leopold II as his private property from 1885 to 1908. From 1908 to 1960 it was governed by the Belgian state. The Congo gained its independence on 30 June 1960. During the colonial period and after the Congolese independence a substantial number of Flemish literary works have been written about the Congo. During the colonial period most of them were written in the colonialist vein. They reflect a Eurocentric perspective and a colonialist attitude. However, there are also a number of writers who are critical of the colonial project. Some of them criticize the way in which the colonization is carried out; others reject the colonial enterprise out of hand. After the Congolese independence Flemish authors engaged in some serious soul searching. The universality of western values is examined and the problems regarding acculturation are addressed. In the last two decades authors such as Guido Tireliren and Lieve Joris have tried to understand the Congo from within. Most Flemish literature on the Congo is not of a high literary quality but from a historical-cultural perspective it is a very important domain of study.

Keywords : Flemish prose on the Congo; Congo literature; postcolonialism; Eurocentrism.

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