Philip Mosley


Guy Vaes (1927-2012) was a Belgian author whose magic realist fiction also drew on modernist psychological investigation and on existentialist ideas of alienation.  A native of Antwerp, Vaes had an intimate knowledge of his city and wrote about it obliquely in his fiction and more directly in essay form.  As a francophone Fleming, a minority writer in a Dutch-speaking region, he also found a way to decenter his own identity by writing poems and essays on various foreign cities that inspired him, cities that in his own phrase “measured his exile.”  Cities in the British Isles fascinated him and gained his lasting affection:  Dublin, Edinburgh and, above all, London.  A dedicated flâneur, he loved exploring such cities and had a boundless enthusiasm for their quirkier, less evident sides.  His essays reveal the art of a subtle psychogeographer whose refined sensibility marries aesthetic and intellectual insights in a quest for the meaning of places and of the author’s often complex relation to them.

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