Paul van Ostaijen  

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"Aan de poort van het ekspressionisme in Vlaanderen moet men in reusachtige letters ‘James Ensor’ schrijven, gelijk men onvoorwaardelik ‘Cézanne’ schrijven moet vóór een absolute beweging als het frans kubisme."--"Ekspressionisme in Vlaanderen" (1918) by Paul van Ostaijen

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Paul van Ostaijen (1896 – 1928) was a Belgian poet and writer, known for such poems as "Mark groet 's morgens de dingen" and "Boem Paukeslag".



Van Ostaijen was born in Antwerp. His nickname was Mister 1830, derived from his habit of walking along the streets of Antwerp clothed as a dandy from that year.

His poetry shows influences from Modernism, Expressionism, Dadaism and early Surrealism, but Van Ostaijen's style is very much his own.


Van Ostaijen was an active flamingant, a supporter of Flemish independence. Because of his involvement with Flemish activism during World War I, he had to flee to Berlin after the war. In Berlin—one of the centers of Dadaism and Expressionism—he met many other artists. He also struggled through a severe mental crisis.

Upon returning to Belgium, Van Ostaijen opened an art gallery in Brussels. He died of tuberculosis in 1928 in a sanatorium in Miavoye-Anthée, in the Wallonian Ardennes.

Van Ostaijen was the first writer to translate Franz Kafka, making him Kafka's first foreign translator, publishing in Dutch five of Kafka's short prose pieces from Betrachtung in 1925. The stories were "Zum Nachdenken für Herrenreiter", "Wunsch, Indianer zu werden", "Die Vorüberlaufenden, "Zerstreutes Hinausschauen" and "Der plötzliche Spaziergang." These translations were published in the Antwerp magazine Vlaamsche Arbeid. Maandschrift voor letteren, kunst en wetenschappen (15, 5-6 (mei-juni 1925), p. 176-178.).


  • Music hall (1916)
  • Het sienjaal (The signal, 1918)
  • Bezette stad (Occupied city, 1921)
  • Feesten van Angst en Pijn (Feasts of Fear and Pain, written 1921, published posthumously)
  • Nagelaten gedichten (Posthumous poems, published posthumously in 1928)

From the Posthumous Poems:

Other publications

See also

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