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The Crack Magazine


Bruges La Morte

Georges Rodenbach, Dedalus

This novel by Belgian author Georges Rodenbach was first published in 1892 and has been reissued by Dedalus with a translation by Mike Mitchell and introduction by Alan Hollinghurst. It begins with Hugues Viane mooching around Bruges. The reason for his blues? His young wife has died but, as it turns out, the decaying city of Bruges is the ideal place for a spot of moping. During his daily perambulations however, he spots a young actress who is the exact double of his dead wife and he becomes transfixed. While I was reading it I thought this must have been the book that influenced Hitchcock’s ‘Vertigo’ but, as it turns out, this is the book that influenced the book that influenced ‘Vertigo’. It’s a beautiful piece of symbolism, infused with a really haunting air, and it’s also unusual in that it was the first novel that came complete with photographs, in this case, images of a suitably forlorn Bruges (all reproduced here). A treat.