- One of the great mystical authors of the Middle Ages, Jan van Ruusbroec wrote devotional treatises from his monastery in the Forêt de Soignes in the 14th century. French poet Eustache Deschamps spent three years in Brussels about 1380 and composed complimentary verses on living there. Petrarch visited Brussels after his expulsion from Florence and writers were drawn to the brilliant court life beginning with the Burgundian regime and culminating with the reign of Emperor Charles V. Erasmus stayed briefly in An-derlecht. Later in the 16th century, Philips van Marnix van Sint Aldegonde (1540-1598) wrote polemical tracts in support of Calvinist reforms while the poet Catherine Boudewyns (1520-1603) decried the hardships endured by faithful Roman Catholics during the period of Protestant ascendancy in the wars of religion.During the Austrian regime, a literary society was founded by the count of Cobenzl, Empress Maria Theresa's minister in the Austrian Netherlands (1787). Voltaire visited in the 1740s, living in the rue de la Grosse Tour where he finished his play Mahomet. Literary salons were fashionable during the rule of Charles of Lorraine. A Société de littérature was founded in 1800.Literary visitors were especially prominent in the 19th century, notably Alexandre Dumas, Lord Byron (George Gordon), Matthew Arnold, Charlotte Brontë, Honoré de Balzac, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine. Rimbaud published his Une saison en enfer (A season in hell) in Brussels in October 1873. Charles Baudelaire and Herman Melville wrote that they did not like the city.Literary societies were very few before the arrival of French refugees after the coup d'état of Napoléon III on 2 December 1852. The emigrés— Victor Hugo an eminent member—stimulated intellectual life, and literary meetings soon spread in cafés and taverns around the city. La Jeune Belgique, founded in 1881, marked the start of a literary flowering, with many reviews appearing in the 1880s and 1890s (L'Artiste, Courrier hebdomadaire), although most were short-lived. Camille Lemmonier contributed regularly to journals. Charles de Coster published his masterpiece The Glorious Adventures of Tyl Ulenspiegel in Brussels (1868). Coster, from Flanders, wrote in French. Dutch-language authors who lived in Brussels included Hendrik Conscience and the great Catholic poet Guido Gezelle (1830-1899). André van Hassert (1805-1874) wrote works strongly reflective of romanticism (Quatre incarnations du Christ, Four incarnations of Christ ). Émile Leclerc (1827-1907) wrote the novel Gabrielle Hauzy with its setting in Saint-Josse-ten-Noode and other works (L'Heritage [Heritage]) were situated in 19th-century Brussels. Léopold Courouble and Georges Garnier penned novels about the manners and morals of the citizens of Brussels at the turn of the 20th century.Odilon-Jean Périer (1901-1928) lived most of his short life at rue Defacqz 50, and both his home and his native city served as subject and backdrop for much of his poetry, which included collections titled Notre mère la ville (Our mother the city ) and Le Citadin (The city dweller ).Jules Destrée founded the Académie royale de Langue et de Littérature française in Brussels (1921) and led a literary revival after World War I. Notable writers included Michel de Ghelderode and Stanislas André Steeman. Writers' associations in the city have published their works in publications that have included Revue nationale, Revue nouvelle Le Flambeau, and Revue générale belge. The city has played a central role in works by Louis Quiévreux, Jean d'Osta, and folklorist Albert Marinus. Jeroen Brouwers,a noted author from the Netherlands, has penned writings that reflect on his life in Brussels. French-language poet Paul Nougé (1895-1967) made use of experimental language. Most recently, Pierre Mertens won the Prix Medic n 1987 for his works.See also Theaters.
Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Paul F. State.