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Dutch and Flemish Literature  
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Frans Kellendonk and the Response to AIDS

Frans Kellendonk's Mystiek lichaam (The Mystical Body [1986]) is one of the few novels in Dutch and Flemish literature in which AIDS plays an important role. With this book, Kellendonk, who was born in 1951 and died of AIDS in 1990, caused a major uproar in the Dutch literary community.

Many critics assumed a one-to-one relation between the philosophy expressed in this novel and Kellendonk's own views on social topics, and they accused him of antisemitism and .

Mystiek lichaam is a family saga about a father, his gay son Leendert, and his "silly" pregnant daughter Magda or "Prul." Despite her silliness, Prul's heterosexuality leads to procreation and is associated with life and nature, whereas Leendert's homosexuality is sterile and associated with death (by an unnamed, "new disease") and artificiality.

The portrayal of homosexuality in this novel is certainly not very encouraging to gay readers. Nevertheless, the doubts Kellendonk had about his own homosexuality, gay lifestyles, and gay liberation deserve literary expression. They challenge readers to redefine their own positions and roles in today's society.

Maurice van Lieshout

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Dekker, Rudolf M., and Lotte C. van de Pol. The Tradition of Female Transvestism in Early Modern Europe. London: Macmillan, 1989.

Duyves, Mattias et al., eds. Homojaarboek 2: Artikelen over emancipatie en homoseksualiteit. Amsterdam: Van Gennep, 1983.

Hafkamp, H. "Homoseksualiteit in de Nederlandse Literatur." Spiegel Historiael 17.11 (1982): 584-593.

Hekma, Gert. "The Mystical Body: Frans Kellendonk and the Dutch Literary Response to AIDS." AIDS: The Literary Response. Emmanuel Nelson, ed. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992. 88-94.

Lieshout, Maurice van. "The Context of Gay Writing and Reading." Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? International Conference on Gay and Lesbian Studies. Dennis Altman et al., eds. Amsterdam and London: An Dekker and GMP, 1989. 113-126.

Veeger, Petra. "Tussen Blaman en Burnier. Het beeld van de lesbienne bij Nederlandse schrijfsters, 1940-1970." Goed Verkeerd. Ein geschiedenis van homoseksuele mannen en lesbische vrouwen in Nederland. Gert Hekma et al., eds. Amsterdam: Meulenhoff, 1989. 115-128.

Vermij, Lucie Th., ed. Women Writers from the Netherlands and Flanders. Amsterdam: International Feminist Book Fair Press, 1992.


    Citation Information
    Author: Lieshout, Maurice van  
    Entry Title: Dutch and Flemish Literature  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated March 1, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates  


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