Category Archives: Artikelen

Sur Parc Sauvage et autres récits brefs de Jacques Roubaud

Manet van Montfrans, ‘Jeux de mots, lieux de mémoire. Sur  Parc Sauvage et autres récits brefs de Jacques Roubaud’.

In Parc Sauvage (2008), a seemingly simple story by Jacques Roubaud, one of the favourite
games of the two protagonists, who are living under the threat of German raids, is to
communicate secret messages. The arrangement of letters, syllables, or words by which
these messages are summarized at the end of the chapter proves to obey Oulipian rules.
Whereas the reader who is familiar with Roubaud recognizes certain facts of his life, the
text cannot be read as an autobiographical tale of childhood. Comparing Parc Sauvage
with other accounts of the same period reveals that Roubaud devotes himself to a memorial ambulation in which writing his memories of childhood makes them constantly
change shape. This approach reveals how in Roubaud the taste of Oulipian forms or other
formal systems exceeds the scope of playful experimentation.

Manet van Montfrans, ‘Jeux de mots, lieux de mémoire. Sur  Parc Sauvage et autres récits brefs de Jacques Roubaud’. In A.E. Schulte Nordholt & P.J. Smith (éds.), Jeu de Mots/ Enjeux littéraires Jeux de mots – enjeux littéraires, de François Rabelais à Richard Millet | Brill/Rodopi, Essais en hommage à Sjef Houppermans,. Leiden: Brill, Faux titre ( 2018), 160-173.


Memories at Stake/Mémoires en Jeu

Manet van Montfrans:  ‘Des sites et des lieux.  ‘De Hollandsche Schouwburg: Bâtiment des larmes’. In Ph. Mesnard, Luba Jurgenson (éds), Mémoires en Jeu/Memories at Stake, no 1, septembre 2016,  128-133; Encyclopédie critique du témoignage et de la mémoire, Lieux de mémoire.

En ligne:

Facade du Hollandscge Schouwburg©
Façade du Hollandsche Schouwburg


Until 1940, The Hollandsche Schouwburg, located just outside the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, was a popular theatre, putting on many well-known Dutch plays. In 1941 the Nazi occupiers changed the theatre’s name into Joodsche Schouwburg (Jewish Theatre). After that, only Jewish actors and artistes were allowed to perform there – for a strictly Jewish audience. Between July 1942 and November 1943 more than 46.000 Jewish men, women and children were detained in the theatre and  transported from there to the Dutch transit camps in Westerbork or Vught. These were the last stop before they were herded into trains bound for one of the extermination camps.

The Creche, a day nursery located opposite The Hollandsche Schouwburg, was annexed for Jewish children. They were separated from their parents while they awaited deportation. Walter Süskind, a Jew who had fled Germany in 1938 and was a member of the Dutch Jewish Council (Judenrat), had been designated by the Nazis as the manager of The Schouwburg.  He  decided to start rescuing hundreds of children.  Helped by several Dutch Resistance groups around 600 children were smuggled out of the Creche through the adjacent Hervormde Kweekschool (Teacher Training College).  A crucial role was played by the assistants of  the Creche and the Director of the School.

After the liberation, attempts to put on public performances in the Hollandsche Schouwburg led to a storm of protest. In 1949 the theatre was sold to the Hollandsche Schouwburg Comittee, aimed at preventing the Schouwburg from ever being used again as a theatre. The Comittee donated the building to the city council of Amsterdam, but only after long years of discussions and controversy within the Jewish Community and with the city council , the decision was taken to transform the neglected buildings of the Schouwburg into a Memorial Site.

In 1962, the city council of Amsterdam inaugurated a monument here in remembrance of the Jewish victims of the Nazi terror. In 1993, a memorial chapel was installed, listing the 6 700 family names of the 104 000 Jews from the Netherlands who were murdered in the war. Today, the Hollandsche Schouwburg serves as a monument and war memorial.

Actually, the project of reuniting the two buildings,The Hollandsche Schouwburg and the former Hervormde Kweekschool directly across the street, in a National Shoa Museum,  is being carried out, in order to tell the comprehensive story of the persecution, deportation and murder of more than three-quarters of the Netherlands’ Jews (104.000).  On May 15th 2016 a first exhibition space in the former Kweekschool has been inaugurated  by the Mayor of Amsterdam.

Since 2005, the Dutch Auschwitz Committee has endeavoured to establish a Holocaust Memorial of Names that will bear the names of all the Dutch Holocaust Victims, including Roma and Sinti.  A design for the Memorial has been made by the American architect of Polish-Jewish descent Daniel Libeskind.  A longstanding  controversy  about the location of this voluminous Monument has been solved in April 2016: all involved parties seemCour du Hollandsche Schouwburg

to rest their case.

Cour du Hollandsche Schouwburg avec la stèle
Cour du Hollandsche Schouwburg avec la stèle

Pierre Bergounioux: un Limousin entre Descartes et Bourdieu

Liesbeth Korthals Altes, Manet van Montfrans, ‘Pierre Bergounioux: un Limousin entre Descartes et Bourdieu’. In Liesbeth Korthals Altes & Manet van Montfrans (Eds.), The New Georgics: Rural and Regional Motifs in the Contemporary European Novel, European Studies, A Journal of Culture, History, and Politics no 18 . Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 125-149.


This article discusses two texts by Pierre Bergounioux (b.1949) Miette (1995)
and Le Chevron (1996), which, like all his work, are set in his native region Le Limousin. In Miette a first person narratore describes the lives of three generations of a peasant family, Le Chevron is an autobiographical account of the relationship between the author and the landscape of his childhood. Bergounioux focuses on the fissure between two eras and two worlds. As one of the last eyewitnnesses he examines the norms of an age-old, rural society which will not survive. A convinced determinist, he describes how he remains anchored in his native land and how he, as a cultural oustsider from the despised provinces, struggles to gain  entry to mainstream literature. These tensions are expressed by means of an individual usage of traditional topoi, and by a style in which the vernacular is combined with sophisticated literary language).

‘La littérature périt si elle quitte le sol de la vie immédiate’.  (Pierre Bergounioux, Haute tension)