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Search - List of Books by Hendrik Conscience

Henri "Hendrik" Conscience (December 3, 1812 Antwerp - September 10, 1883 Elsene) was a Belgian writer. He was a pioneer in writing in Dutch after the secession from the Netherlands in 1830 left Belgium a mostly French speaking country.

He was the son of a Frenchman, Pierre Conscience, from Besanšon, who had been chef de timonerie in the navy of Napoleon Bonaparte, and who was appointed under-harbourmaster at Antwerp in 1811, when that city formed part of France. Hendrik's mother was a Fleming, Cornelia Balieu. When, in 1815, the French abandoned Antwerp after the Congress of Vienna, they left Pierre Conscience behind them. He was a very eccentric person, and he took up the business of buying and breaking-up worn-out vessels, of which the port of Antwerp was full after the peace.

The child grew up in an old shop stocked with marine stores, to which the father afterwards added a collection of unsellable books; among them were old romances which inflamed the fancy of the child.

His mother died in 1820, and the boy and his younger brother had no other companion than their grim and somewhat sinister father. In 1826 Pierre Conscience married again, this time a widow much younger than himself, Anna Catherina Bogaerts.

Hendrik had long before this developed an insatiable passion for reading, and revelled all day long among the ancient, torn and dusty tomes which passed through the garret of The Green Corner on their way to destruction. Soon after his second marriage Pierre took a violent dislike to the town, sold the shop, and retired to the Kempen region which Hendrik Conscience so often describes in his books, the desolate flat land that stretches between Antwerp and Venlo. Here Pierre bought a little farm, with a great garden round it, and here, while their father was buying ships in distant havens, the boys would spend weeks, and even months, with no companion but their stepmother.

At the age of seventeen Hendrik left the paternal house in the Kempen region to become a tutor in Antwerp, and to prosecute his studies, which were soon broken in upon by the Revolution of 1830. He volunteered as a private in the new Belgian army, and served in barracks at Venlo, and afterwards at Dendermonde, until 1837, when he retired with the grade of sergeant-major. Thrown in this way with Flemings of every class, and made a close observer of their mental habits, the young man formed the idea of writing in the despised idiom of the country, an idiom which was then considered too vulgar to be spoken, and much less written in, by educated, Francophone Belgians.

Although, close by, across the Scheldt, the Dutch possessed a rich and honored literature, many centuries old, written in a language scarcely to be distinguished from Flemish, a foolish prejudice denied recognition to the language of the Flemish provinces of Belgium. As a matter of fact, nothing had been written in it for many years, when the separation in 1831 served to make the chasm between the nations and the languages one which could never be bridged over. It was therefore with the foresight of a prophet that Conscience wrote, in 1830: "I do not know how it is, but I confess I find in the real Flemish something indescribably romantic, mysterious, profound, energetic, even savage. If I ever gain the power to write, I shall throw myself head over ears into Flemish composition."

His poems, however, written while he was a soldier, were all in French. He received no pension when he was discharged, and going back idle to his fathers house, he determined to do the impossible, and write a Flemish book for sale. A passage in Guicciardini fired his fancy, and straightaway he wrote a series of vignettes set during the Dutch Revolt, with the title In 't Wonderjaar 1566 (published Ghent, 1837).

His father thought it so vulgar of his son to write a book in Flemish that he turned him out of doors, and the celebrated novelist of the future started for Antwerp, with a fortune which was strictly confined to two francs and a bundle of clothes. An old schoolfellow found him in the street and took him to his home; and soon various people of position, amongst them the eminent painter Wappers, interested themselves in the brilliant and unfortunate young man. Wappers even gave him a suit of clothes, and presented him to the king, who expressed a wish, which was not immediately carried out in consequence of some red tape, that the Wonderjaar should be added to the library of every Belgian school. But it was under the patronage of Leopold I that Conscience published his second work, Fantasy, in the same year, 1837. A small appointment in the provincial archives relieved him from the actual pressure of want, and in 1838 he made his first great success with the historical romance called The Lion of Flanders (Flemish: De Leeuw van Vlaanderen), which still holds its place as one of his masterpieces, and whose influence extended far beyond the strictly literary sphere.

During the 19th century, numerous nationalist-minded writers, poets and artists in various European countries were busily taking up heroic characters from their countries' respective histories and myths, and making them into romantic icons of national feeling and pride. With "The Lion of Flanders" Conscience did that very effectively with the character of Robert of Bethune, a 14th Century count of Nevers and Flanders, Crusader, and - most important from Conscience's point of view - a prominent protagonist in a prololonged struggle to maintain the authonomy of Flanders against great odds.

Hisotorians have accused Conscience of some historical inaccuracies - for example, depicting his hero as having taken part in the Battle of the Golden Spurs, which did not happen. it was also pointed out that in reality The Lion of Flanders probably did not even speak Dutch. For all that, Robert of Bethune, "The Lion of Flanders", is up to the present often seen as a symbol of Flemish pride and freedom - which is in particular due to the romantic, albeit somewhat incorrect, portrayal of him by Conscience. Conscience's portaryal of the count also inspired De Vlaamse Leeuw (Flemish: "The Flemish Lion"), long the unofficial anthem of Flemish nationalists and in recent decades officially recognised as the national anthem of Flanders.

The Lion of Flanders was followed by How to become a Painter (1843), What a Mother can Suffer (1843), Siska van Roosemaei (1844), Lambrecht Hensmans (1847), Jacob van Artevelde (1849), and The Conscript (1850). During these years he lived a variegated existence, for some thirteen months actually as an undergardener in a country house, but finally as secretary to the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. It was long before the sale of his books--greatly praised but seldom bought--made him in any degree independent. His ideas, however, began to be generally accepted. At a Flemish congress which met at Ghent so early as 1841, the writings of Conscience were mentioned as the seed which was most likely to yield a crop of national literature. Accordingly the patriotic party undertook to encourage their circulation, and each fresh contribution from the pen of Conscience was welcomed as an honor to Belgium.

In 1845 Conscience was made a knight of the Order of Leopold. To write in Flemish had now ceased to be regarded as a proof of vulgarity; on the contrary, the tongue of the common people became almost fashionable, and Flemish literature began to live.

In 1845 Conscience published a History of Belgium, but he was well advised to return to those exquisite pictures of Flemish home-life which must always form the most valuable portion of his repertory. He was now at the height of his genius, and Blind Rosa (1850), Rikketikketak (1851), The Decayed Gentleman (1851), and The Miser (1853) rank among the most important of the long list of his novels. These had an instant effect upon more recent fiction, and Conscience had many imitators.

In 1855 the earliest translations of his tales began to appear in English, French, German and Italian, and his fame became universal. In 1867 the post of keeper of the Royal Belgian museums was created, and this important sinecure was given to Conscience. He continued to produce novels with great regularity, and his separate publications amounted at last to nearly eighty in number. He was now the most eminent of the citizens of Antwerp, and his seventieth birthday was celebrated by public festivities. After a long illness he died, in his house in Antwerp; he was awarded a public funeral and interred in the Antwerpen Schoonselhof.

The portraits of Conscience present to us long smooth hair, contemplative dark eyes under heavy brows, a pointed nose, and a humorous broad mouth; in late life he wore the ornament of a long white beard. Whether the historical romances of Conscience will retain the enormous popularity which they have enjoyed is much less than certain, but far more likely to live are the novels in which he undertook to be the genre-painter of the life of his own day. In spite of too rhetorical a use of soliloquizing, and of a key of sentiment often pitched too high for modern taste, the stories of Conscience are animated by a real spirit of genius, mildly lustrous, perhaps, rather than startlingly brilliant. Whatever glories may be in store for the literature of Flanders, Conscience is always sure of a distinguished place as its forerunner and its earliest classic.
This author page uses material from the Wikipedia article "Hendrik Conscience", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0
Total Books: 108
Le Lion De Flandre
2010 - Le Lion De Flandre [French Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781143386664
ISBN-10: 1143386663
Genre: Nonfiction

Le Gentilhomme Pauvre
2010 - Le Gentilhomme Pauvre [French Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781143874062
ISBN-10: 1143874064

Scnes De La Vie Flamande
2010 - Scnes De La VIe Flamande [French Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781143577437
ISBN-10: 1143577434
Genre: Nonfiction

Le Mal Du Sicle Scnes De La Vie Comtemporaine
2010 - Le Mal Du Sicle Scnes De La VIe Comtemporaine [French Edition] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781143583360
ISBN-10: 1143583361

A History of England During the Reign of George the Third
2010 - A History of England During the Reign of George the Third (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781143420085
ISBN-10: 114342008X

The Merchant Of Antwerp A Tale From The Flemish Of Henrick Conscience
2010 - The Merchant of Antwerp a Tale From the Flemish of Henrick Conscience [1872] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781120903549
ISBN-10: 1120903548
Genre: Literature & Fiction

Batavia Historisch Tafereel Uit De Xviie Eeuw
2010 - Batavia Historisch Tafereel Uit De XViie Eeuw (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781142454227
ISBN-10: 1142454223

The Demon of Gold
2010 - The Demon of Gold (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781142329204
ISBN-10: 1142329208

The Merchant of Antwerp
2010 - The Merchant of Antwerp (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781141517800
ISBN-10: 1141517809

The Curse of the Village And the Happiness of Being Rich 2 Tales Transl
2010 - The Curse of the VIllage and the Happiness of Being Rich 2 Tales Transl (Paperback)Paperback
ISBN-13: 9781141554768
ISBN-10: 1141554763

The Lion of Flanders
2010 - The Lion of Flanders [Volume 2] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781152388338
ISBN-10: 1152388339

Tales of Old Flanders Count Hugo of Craenhove Wooden Clara and the Village Innkeeper
The Lion of Flanders Or the Battle of the Golden Spurs
2009 - The Lion of Flanders or the Battle of the Golden Spurs (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781150759512
ISBN-10: 1150759518

Tales of Flemish Life
2009 - Tales of Flemish Life (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781150600913
ISBN-10: 1150600918

Tales of Flanders Count Hugo of Cranenhove the Story of Abulfargus  the Poor Gentleman
2009 - Tales of Flanders Count Hugo of Cranenhove the Story of Abulfargus the Poor Gentleman [with] (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9781150011382
ISBN-10: 1150011386

Moeder Job
2009 - Moeder Job [1856 - Mandarin Chinese Edition] (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 9781120795359
ISBN-10: 1120795354
Genre: Literature & Fiction

De Burgers Van Darlingen Part 12
2009 - De Burgers Van Darlingen Part 12 [1861 - Mandarin Chinese Edition] (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781120489982
ISBN-10: 1120489989
Genre: Literature & Fiction

De Leeuw Van Vlaenderen Part 1
2009 - De Leeuw Van Vlaenderen Part 1 [1843 - Mandarin Chinese Edition] (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781120517890
ISBN-10: 1120517893
Genre: Literature & Fiction

Bella Stock Tafereelen Uit Het Leven Der Vlaemsche Visschers
2009 - Bella Stock Tafereelen Uit Het Leven Der Vlaemsche VIsschers [1861 - Mandarin Chinese Edition] (Paperback)Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781120266316
ISBN-10: 1120266319
Genre: Literature & Fiction

Le Gant Perdu
2009 - Le Gant Perdu (Hardcover)Paperback, Hardcover
ISBN-13: 9781115853842
ISBN-10: 1115853848

The Boys of the Sierras Or The Young Gold Hunters
2009 - The Boys of the Sierras or the Young Gold Hunters (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 9780217066679
ISBN-10: 0217066674

2009 - La Nia Robada [Spanish Edition] (Paperback)
2008 - The Amulet [Large Print Edition] (Hardcover)
2008 - Le Pays De L'or [Large Print Edition - French Edition] (Hardcover)
2008 - Argent Et Noblesse [Large Print Edition - French Edition] (Hardcover)
2008 - La Tombe De Fer [Large Print Edition - French Edition] (Hardcover)
2008 - Histoire De Deux Enfants D'ouvrier [Large Print Edition - French Edition] (Hardcover)
Le Lion De Flandre La Bataille Des Eperons D'or [Mythes et epopees d'Europe - French Edition] (Paperback)
De Leeuw Van Vlaanderen [Dutch Edition] (Other)
De Loteling [Grote Marnixpockets] (Other)
Baas Gansendonck [Grote Marnixpocket] (Other)
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