'Hugo Claus | Achter vele maskers'

15th of March 2018

Safeguarding the literary heritage of one of the greatest Flemish writers – in accordance with the wishes of his heirs – has prevented this archive from being dispersed as well as making it accessible to everyone. This was the objective that the Heritage Fund set for itself when it had the opportunity to acquire Hugo Claus’s archives and entrust them to the Letterenhuis in Antwerp. Today, 10 years after his death, the Letterenhuis is paying homage to Claus through an exhibition that brings together numerous exceptional pieces from this important archive. An event not to be missed!

Photographs, documents, citations and fragments from his notebooks, interviews, novels and poems all throw a new and very personal light on the life and work of Hugo Claus. Some particularly enlightening pieces are also presented. For instance, a very early version of his emblematic work The Sorrow of Belgium and the working material for Wonder and two prize-winning collections of poetry -Mister Boar and Traces - as well as works inspired by his love for the Dutch actress Kitty Courbois (notably The year of the Lobster).

The documents exhibited also enable us to better understand Claus’s creative process. We see how certain poems emerged from notes scribbled here and there, how texts developed after being endlessly crossed out and re-written and how some works were only able to see the light of day after extensive preparatory work and detailed plans. For Claus, literature was real work.

Sometimes Claus re-used a theme in more than one literary genre. Thus, the novel Talking about Deedee was based on a film that was never made. Seven years later, Claus recycled this theme again for his theatre play Interior, which in turn inspired his film The Sacrament.

By entrusting Hugo Claus’s archives to the Letterenhuis, other collectors, including the University of Antwerp, have been similarly inspired to entrust their own archives to the Letterenhuis in the form of long-term loans and to add them to the literary archival funds of the Heritage Fund.

Discover the great wealth of these unique archives and the secrets hiding behind Claus’s numerous masques at the Letterenhuis in Antwerp between 17 March and 1 July 2018.