Elskamp, Max 1862-1931
ELSKAMP, Max 1862-1931
PERSONAL: Born May 5, 1862, in Antwerp, Belgium; died December 10, 1931, in Antwerp, Belgium; son of a banker. Education: Studied law for one year. Religion: Roman Catholic. Hobbies and other interests: Collecting nautical instruments.
CAREER: Poet and artist.
Dominical, LaComblez (Brussels, Belgium), 1892.
Six chansons de pauvre homme pour célébrer la semaine de Flandre, suivies de Huit chansons reverdies, P. Lacomblez (Brussels, Belgium), 1893, reprinted, Écrivains Réunis (Lyon, France), 1954.
Salutations, dont d'angeliques, P. Lacomblez (Brussels, Belgium), 1893.
La louange de la vie (title means "The Praise of Life"), Société du Mercure de France (Paris, France), 1898, third edition, 1933, edited by Guy Goffette, Éditions de la Differénce (Paris, France), 1990.
(And illustrator) L'alphabet de Notre Dame, la Vièrge, Édition du Conservatoire de la Tradition Populaire (Anvers, Belgium), 1901.
(And illustrator) Sous les tentes de l'Exode (title means "Under the Tents of Exodus"), Éditions R. Sand, 1921.
Chansons désabusées (title means "Songs of Disillusionment"), G. Van Öst (Brussels, Belgium), 1922.
La chanson de la rue Saint-Paul (title means "The Song of Rue Saint-Paul"), J.-E. Buschmann (Anvers, Belgium), 1922, reprinted, Gallimard (Paris, France), 1997.
(And illustrator) Les sept Notre Dame des plus beaux metiers (poems), A. de Tavenier (Anvers, Belgium), 1923.
Les délectations moroses, G. Van Öst (Brussels, Belgium), 1923.
(And illustrator) Chansons d'amures (poems), J.-E. Buschmann (Anvers, Belgium), 1923.
Remembrances, J.-E. Buschmann (Anvers, Belgium), 1924.
Aegri somnia, J.-E. Buschmann (Anvers, Belgium), 1924.
Huit chansons reverdies, dont quatre pleurent et quatre rient, Éditions du Cercle d'Art, 1942.
(Author of French lyrics) Nöel (music for voice and piano), M. Baron (New York, NY), 1950.
(With Robert Guiette) Max Elskamp: une étude, P. Seghers (Paris, France), 1955.
L'amitié de Max Elskamp et d'Albert Mockel: lettres inédites, Palais des académies (Brussels, Belgium), 1963.
Correspondance: Max Elskamp et Jean de Brosschère, Palais des académies (Brussels, Belgium), 1963.
Oeuvres complètes, edited by Bernard Delvaille, Seghers (Paris, France), 1967.
Chansons et enluminures (bibliography), preface by Liliane Wouters, Éditions J. Antoine (Brussels, Belgium), 1980.
La chanson de la rue Saint-Paul; précédé de sous les tentes de l'exode; suivi de aegri somnia (omnibus), Editions Labor (Brussels, Belgium), 1987.
Effigies, Fata Morgana (Paris, France), 1989.
SIDELIGHTS: Born into an affluent Belgian family, symbolist poet Max Elskamp had the means to indulge his artistic impulses, which included art and poetry. As an artist, Elskamp carved wood to create woodblock illustrations, which he later used to decorate his own poetry collections. Though he studied law for a time, he was more interested in Flemish folklore, and he employed the rhythm of folk songs in his verses, as well as in his songs. His interest in folklore also led to his involvement in the founding of the Antwerp Museum of Folklore.
A devout Roman Catholic, Elskamp used poetry to articulate his religious beliefs in such collections as Les sept Notre Dame des plus beaux metiers and L'alphabet de Notre Dame, la Vièrge. His use of folkloric imagery in these works drew some criticism, however. After publishing L'alphabet de Notre Dame, la Vièrge, Elskamp did not release any more books for two decades, when Sous les tentes de l'Exode was published in 1921. After this, Elskamp returned to actively writing and illustrating books. His most successful verses were published posthumously in Oeuvres complètes. Here, the reader can discover the poet's wide range of themes and imagery, including Eastern religion, women, and imaginary voyages. A preoccupation with suffering is also evident here, a reflection of the fact that Elskamp was plagued by both physical and mental ailments later in his life.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Inventiaire de la bibliothèque de Max Elskamp léguée à l'Université libre de Bruxelles, Éditions de l'Université de Bruxelles, 1973.
Lettres Romanes, Volume 40, number 3, 1986, special Elskamp issue.
University of Kansas Web site, http://www.ukans.edu/ (July 7, 2000), Stephen Goddard, "Max Elskamp."