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Johan Daisne

Johan Daisne (1912-1978) was one of the pioneers of magical realism in Dutch-language literature, together with Hubert Lampo. His stories combine dream and reality and often consist of a sequence of unexpected and astonishing events, outlining a philosophical view of life. Like Lampo, Daisne extensively described in essays what it meant to write in a magic-realistic style. His vision is based on a world image with two poles that constitute reality: on one side the sober, rational reality and, on the other, the fantastic, irrational dream. Magic realism is generated by the tension between those poles, between which a spark occasionally jumps, according to Daisne.

As well as a novelist, Daisne was also a poet, a writer of stage plays, radio plays and essays and a film critic. He wrote his most important work during a particularly challenging period: his life and work were marked by the unexpected loss of his first child in 1946 and the death of his father in 1950. Many of his works are (semi) autobiographical.

Daisne’s best-known novels are The Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short and The Train of Inertia. Both novels were adapted for the big screen by the Belgian cinematographer André Delvaux, who does justice to the surreal atmosphere and the subtlety of narration, the use of multi-layered metaphors and the beautiful intertwining of dreams and reality.

Photo Collection Letterenhuis, Antwerp