Author

Ivo Michiels

The writing career of Ivo Michiels (1923) stretches back half a century. He made his debut shortly after the Second World War with several traditional novels, and also wrote film scenarios. In 1963, however, he made a totally new start with Het boek alfa (The book ‘alpha’). Inspired by the French nouveau roman, this work in effect introduced the modernistic novel into Flemish literature. In 1979 he retired to a village in France to devote himself to an ambitious new endeavour, the ten-volume series Journal brut. The first book, De vrouwen van de aartsengel (The wives of the archangel), appeared in 1983. The recently published De mirakelen, Elisabeth, de mirakelen (The miracles, Elisabeth, the miracles) is the final work in the series.

The Book Alfa

(De Bezige Bij, 1963, 143 pages)

When, in the late 1960s, a German translation of one volume of the Alpha cycle was published, Samuel Beckett remarked that, stylistically, this was the best book he had read that year. The Alpha cycle is, indeed, one of the most overwhelming reading experiences in postwar literature. It owes its legendary status to Michiels’ unsurpassed use of language.

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The miracles, Elisabeth, the miracles

The miracles, Elisabeth, the miracles

(De Bezige Bij, 2001, 256 pages)

Ivo Michiels has often been referred to as an experimental writer, a term to which he himself takes exception. His work is far more accessible than his reputation suggests. Admittedly, he forsakes the well-trodden paths of the traditional novel, and readers will search in vain for a recognizable narrator, a structured account, or neatly packaged intervals of time labelled ‘past’ and ‘present’. The ten volumes which make up the series entitled Journal Brut are nothing less than the story of his life and of the relationship between Michiels and the world around him.

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