Brussels by André de Vries

Brussels: A Cultural History by André de Vries
Publisher: Interlink Books
Genre: Non-fiction, Historical
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Starting out as a few huts in a forbidding swamp, Brussels took more than a thousand years to become the capital of the Duchy of Brabant, of Burgundy, and from 1830 the capital city of the new kingdom of Belgium. Today its name popularly evokes Eurocrat megalomania and miniature cabbages, its image that of a beer-drinker’s dream, a paradise of chocolates and French fries. Yet Brussels, for all its reputation for bureaucracy and extravagance, is a city that has always been open to outsiders, to invaders and immigrants, always preserving its humanity. Architecturally rich and culturally sophisticated, this European capital defies its stereotypes. André de Vries explores a city and country in perpetual search of an identity, still showing the scars of the Counter-Reformation, peopled by the “Spaniards of the North.” He discovers a capital on the fault-line between Latin and Germanic cultures, with its improbable hybrid languages. A place ruled by the spirit of zwanze “self-mockery and derision,” a city so down-to-earth they had to invent surrealism. * THE CITY OF ARCHITECTURE: the home of Horta and Art Nouveau; the Grand-Place and the Atomium; the palaces of the European Commission; corrupt town planners and the joy of destruction. * THE CITY OF EXILES AND VISITORS: Erasmus, Marx, Proudhon, Victor Hugo, and Balzac; adventurers and soldiers; Byron, Wellington, Victor Serge, and Alexandra David-Neel. * THE CITY OF LITERATURE, ART, AND MUSIC: Charlotte Bronti, W.H. Auden, dos Passos and Huysmans; cartoon heroes Tintin and the Smurfs; the artists Van der Weyden, Brueghel, Ensor, and Magritte; excess and energy; Jacques Brel, Johnny Hallyday, and Toots Thielemans.

Have you ever wondered about the city of Brussels in Belgium? If someone asked you about it, what could you tell them? Brussels by André de Vries is quite informative in this regard. After reading it, one is sure to feel confident in discussing Belgium with a focus on Brussels.

The author goes into detail about its architecture, the people, including famous visited throughout time, its works of art and books, and even music. It is all presented through the lens of history. Many examples are given, and the words of famous and historical people are shown to highlight points. One will also learn about the languages and politics there.

Brussels has its own unique problems, and the author of this book shows us how they dealt with tricky situations. De Vries it very knowledgeable about the topic. Whether you want to travel the Brussels or just educate yourself, this is a good book to check out.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.