CHAPEL ROAD by Pierre Frei


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An important reissue of a classic Dutch novel whose Flemish author (1912–79) was an early metafictionist and a political maverick and chameleon frequently compared to Louis-Ferdinand Céline and John Dos Passos. Chapel Road (1953) is an inordinately ambitious text whose central narrative focuses on its protagonist, ondine, a wily and amoral survivor who escapes her native slums to join the fledgling socialist movement in early–19th-century Flanders. Her (mostly political and amatory) experiences are counterpointed against a vivid retelling of the medieval Dutch legend of Reynard the Fox, and also theoretical and autobiographical commentary by (ondine’s creator) the novelist within the novel, ebulliently loquacious johann jenssens (Boon has no more truck with capitalization than with capitalism). A rich, rowdy, unruly, and fascinating work (and a possible influence on Grass’s The Tin Drum?). Boon is a forgotten writer very much deserving of a revival.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2003
ISBN: 1-56478-285-9
Page count: 338pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2003