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A farmer recounts the story of his life

Peasant Psalm

Felix Timmermans

Along with Pallieter, ‘Peasant Psalm’ is one of Felix Timmermans’ most renowned novels. In it, a farmer recounts the story of his life: his connection to the soil which he works, his relationship with God (and pastor), and his natural acceptance of his and his family’s fate. The story, written in the first person, echoes with this simple man’s love for life.

The most beautiful ode to rural life ever written in the Dutch language.
De Standaard

The main character is Farmer Wortel, who feels a strong bond with his native soil. His wife Fien is his polar opposite. Her son, Fons, who is at a loss with his surroundings and especially himself, is the cause of much worry for her and eventually becomes her downfall. Farmer Wortel remarries Frisine, the wife of his son Fons, who has since also died. Consumed by jealousy, Wortel unreasonably suspects his young wife of being unfaithful. One night, when she goes looking for her missing husband Wortel, Frisine falls into the water, with fatal consequences. Wortel eventually returns to his own land, the only place in his life where he can find a good footing and balance. ‘Peasant Psalm’ is a novel that reveals a deep knowledge of suffering, in which praise of nature gives way to praise of humanity. 

A new edition of 'Peasant Psalm' was published by Davidsfonds in 2022 with a foreword by author Bart Van Loo and beautiful illustrations by artist Koen Broucke. Beyond all expectations, the new edition became a number one best-seller in Flanders.

What an incredibly compelling and poignant literary masterpiece. It’s all but impossible to put down.
Christophe Vekeman
In both content and form, his writing shows an unequalled degree of unmistakable originality.
Gerard Walschap
'One of the best in the Dutch literary canon.'
Bart Van Loo, author of 'The Burgundians. A Vanished Empire'

Count your blessings, because you’re looking at a novel from 1935 that was out of print for many years but is one of the best in the Dutch literary canon. Timmermans' language breathes soil, air and light, and his surprising sensory metaphors are tiny electric shocks that keep the reader on their toes. They create laughter and wonder and occasionally make your head spin. And sometimes they’re so beautiful, I play a game with myself and try to smuggle them into conversations. (...) The vitality of Peasant Psalm comes to us from an unspoiled, lost Flanders. That’s partly why, in this day and age, Timmermans' sentences feel like a medicine that provides a detox for our hectic lives – just keep taking it all in, bit by bit, until the novel is finished. He generously gives us some much-needed grounding