The Low Countries

Deze Engelstalige blog, gelinkt aan het jaarboek The Low Countries, brengt nieuws over taal, cultuur en maatschappij in de Lage Landen voor een breed buitenlands publiek.

  • 6 mei 2018

Flanders Fields, 1917 – A Crucial Year

Flanders Fields, 1917 – A Crucial Year

If we consider the history of the First World War from the perspective of its enduring legacy, we see that 1917 was certainly a crucial year, if not the most crucial year of all. After almost three years of heavy fighting, Europe was already significantly weakened and the new future world powers were entering the theatre of war for the first time. The year was also of particularly great importance for the front in Flanders. The biggest event was the Third Battle of Ypres, known by the name of its final phase, the Battle of Passchendaele. With a death toll of at least 150,000 between 7 June and 17 November 1917 (perhaps as many as 175,000 – the counting still continues), it is the largest massacre ever to have taken place on Belgian soil.

  • 27 april 2018

Why the Netherlands is totally orange today

Why the Netherlands is totally orange today

The whole Dutch nation is covered in orange today as it King Willem-Alexander's birthday. But do you know why the Dutch wear orange hats and eat orange cakes instead of, let's say, yellow ones or red ones?

You can find out in the article Orange: a Colour that Unites and Divides, that was published in the 2011 issue of The Low Countries Yearbook. Read it in this blog post.

  • 24 april 2018

The Low Countries Yearbook 26 Is Out - What Do You Think About Its Digital Future?

The Low Countries Yearbook 26 Is Out - What Do You Think About Its Digital Future?

The 2018 issue of The Low Countries yearbook is out now. The theme of this volume is: ‘About suffering they were never wrong, The old Masters’ - Dutch and Flemish Artists Around the Globe. Find out more here

The theme of this yearbook was developed jointly with CODART, the international network of curators of Dutch and Flemish art which this year celebrates its twentieth year.

This twenty-sixth edition of The Low Countries will be the last ever in print. With pride – and a little melancholy – the editorial board looks back on those twenty-six volumes.

But don’t worry. From next year you can find us at where we will continue with the same fervour and depth to publish information, comment and essays about the Low Countries. For more people. We still have a lot more to tell. 

In this context, we would like to hear your opinion on what should be located on such a web platform.

You can fill out the survey here.

Thank you in advance for your willing cooperation.

  • 10 april 2018

Van Gogh’s Japonism on View in Amsterdam

Van Gogh’s Japonism on View in Amsterdam

The exhibition Van Gogh & Japan is on view at Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam until 24 /6/2018.

Like Monet and Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) was impressed by Japanese prints which had flooded the European market since the mid nineteenth century. Landscapes, portraits and street scenes inspired him. He was indisputably influenced by the pronounced colours and abstract figures, prominent composition, robust contour lines and motifs abruptly cut off by the edge of the picture.

In the end Japan became a kind of personal ideal for the painter. Sunny southern France was his mirror for Japan, where he found a model for an artisanal alliance with painter colleagues. In 1888 he painted a self-portrait, with a thin face, close-cropped hair and eyes somewhat askance, like a Japanese ascetic. Nevertheless he continued to opt for his own wilful style over the refinement of the Japanese prints.

  • 19 maart 2018

The Clever Letter Thief - Ten Years after the Death of Hugo Claus

The Clever Letter Thief - Ten Years after the Death of Hugo Claus

Exactly ten years ago today, the Flemish writer Hugo Claus passed away. He was 78 years old.

For many, Hugo Claus is the greatest Flemish writer of the second half of the 20th century. In 1986 he received the triennial Dutch Letters Prize, the highest literary distinction in Dutch. A prolific author, he has worked in many fields, publishing over twenty novels, dozens of plays and thousands of poems. He has also exercised his talents as a painter and film director.

Claus had the art of varying the registers better than anyone else, happily alternating the tragic, the sublime, the classical, the burlesque and the flatter obscene. His favourite themes were love for the mother, the difficult contact with the father (absent), sexuality (incipient), the feeling of guilt linked to the Catholic faith, and Flanders during and after the war.

Read four of his poems and a portrait of this clever letter thief in this blog post. 

  • 14 maart 2018

Belgium and the Netherlands: Small Welfare States in the European Union

Belgium and the Netherlands: Small Welfare States in the European Union

The persistent differences between the Netherlands and Belgium illustrate precisely that the European Union does not create uniformity among its member states”, writes former Belgian minister and current professor at the University of Amsterdam Frank Vandenbroucke in an interesting article about these two small welfare states, that can be successful in the European Union, but must not be ‘small’ in their view of the EU” . 

This article, which you can read in full in this blog post, is a summary of the Pacification Lecture Vandenbroucke delivered on 11 November 2017 in Breda. The complete lecture can be found, in Dutch, on

Translated by Lindsay Edwards / Photo © Jeroen Oerlemans

  • 11 maart 2018

Violence and Legitimacy Occupied Belgium 1914-1918

One forgets easily that by November 1914 the majority of Belgians were trapped inside an occupied country. The capture of Belgium had started with an outburst of extreme German violence. The army would resist behind the Yser, a river in a small uninvaded corner of the country. When on 22 November 1918, King Albert rode past the cheering crowds in Brussels, he presided a reunion between the different segments of Belgium-at-war that brought its share of tensions.

  • 27 februari 2018

Scottish Poetry Festival StAnza Focuses on the Low Countries

Scottish Poetry Festival StAnza Focuses on the Low Countries

StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival, will focus on Dutch and Flemish poetry this year under the title ‘Going Dutch’, with special attention for the languages and cultures of the Low Countries: Dutch, Flemish and Frisian. 

A number of award-winning Dutch, Flemish and Frisian poets are among the big names from the literary world who will read and perform, including Ester Naomi Perquin, Jan Baeke, Thomas Möhlmann, Frank Starik, Tsead Bruinja, Sigrid Kingma, Geart Tigchelaar, Lies Van Gasse (photo), Maud Vanhauwaert and Andy Fierens.