Michels, Ivo 1923-

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Michels, Ivo 1923-
[A pseudonym]
(Henri P.R. Ceuppens)


Born 1923, in Mortsel, Belgium; divorced.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, De Bezige Bij, P.O. Box 75184, 1070 AD Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Writer and director. Director of film Meeuwen sterven in de haven, 1955, and of television program Interludium, 1955; also taught film in a school in France. Military service: Worked in French hospital corps during World War II.


Venice Film Festival prize, c. 1966, for Het Afscheid.


Zo ga dan! Kronijk van een opgang (title means "May It Be So! Chronicle of an Uprising"), 1946–47.

Het vonnis (title means "The Verdict"), 1949.

Kruistocht der Jongelingen (title means "Crusade of the Youth"), Boekengilde de Clauwaert (Louvain, Belgium), 1951.

Spaans capriccio, Colibrant, 1952.

De Oganbank (title means "The Eyebank"), P. Vink (Antwerp, Belgium), 1953.

(With Roland Verhaevert; and director) Meeuwen sterven in de Haven (screenplay), 1955.

Het Afscheid (novel; title means "The Parting"; also see below), Standaard-Boekhandel (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1957.

(Compiler) Dertien Vlamingen, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1961.

Albisola Mare, Savona (screenplay; also see below), 1963.

Het Afscheid (screenplay; based on the author's novel), 1966.

Met Dieric Bouts (screenplay; title means "With Dieric Bouts"), 1975.

Een tuin tussen Hond en Wolf (screenplay; title means "A Garden between Dog and Wolf"), De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1977.

Luister hoe dit beeld hoe die lijn hoe die kleur hoe dit vlak luister, Soethoudt (Antwerp, Belgium), 1979.


Het boek Alfa (title means "The Book Alpha"), De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1963.

Orchis Militaris, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1968.

Exit, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1971.

Samuel, o Samuel, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1973.

Dixi(t), De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1979.

Book Alpha and Orchis Militaris, translated by Adrienne Dixon, Twayne (Boston, MA), 1979.

De alfa-cyclus (contains Het boek alfa, Orchis militaris, Exit, Samuel, o Samuel, and Dixi[t]), De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1980.


De vrouwen van de aartsengel, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1983.

Het boek der nauwe relaties, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1985.

Vlaanderen, ook en land, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1987.

Prima materia, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1989.

Ondergronds, bovengronds, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1991.

Schildwacht schuldwacht, 1993.

Daar komen scherven van, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1995.

Sissi, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1997.

De verrukking, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1999.

De mirakelen, Elizabeth, de mirakelen, De Bezige Big (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 2001.

Also author of introduction to Antwerpen stad aan de stroom: een fotoboek van Filip Tas by Filip Tas, photographs by Karel van Deuren, Lannoo, 1965. Author of scenarios and dialogue for films.


Ivo Michiels, the pseudonym of Henri P.R. Ceuppens, is a Dutch author who has gained considerable attention for his experimental fiction, including his "Alpha Cycle" and "Journal Brut" series. A young man when World War II was raging throughout Europe, Michiels was greatly affected by this period, and war would consequently factor in much of his work. After publishing several early works of fiction, he became interested in film and wrote a number of screenplays during the 1960s and 1970s. Around the same time, he debuted the first book in his "Alpha Cycle," Het boek Alfa, which would address such issues as war, violence, and sex. Using a number of literary devices, ranging from repetition to absurdisms, the book produces an overall effect "reminiscent of Dada poetry," according to Henri Kops, who reviewed the omnibus De alfacyclus for World Literature Today. Each installment in the series, which includes Orchis Militaris, Exit, Samuel, o Samuel, and Dixi(t), approaches its subject in a different manner. For example, sometimes the author uses poetry, sometimes prose; he liberally employs cliché, and sometimes he descends into language as simple as a child's primer. Some reviewers had difficulty with the author's technique, finding it to be ineffective overall. Kops felt that Michiels's "abuse of hypnotic repetition implies an imbecilic clientele," and that attempts to unravel the text are "unrewarding because it does not entertain."

In a World Literature Today review of De mirakelen, Elizabeth, de mirakelen, Ludo Stynen pointed out that in Michiels's "Alpha Cycle" the aim of the author had been to "‘demolish’ language and release it from all kinds of oppressive connotations," while with his "Journal Brut" books the goal was to "create and use a ‘free’ language." The ten books that make up the "Journal Brut" series are: De vrouwen van de aartsengel; Het boek der nauwe relaties; Vlaanderen, ook en land; Prima materia; Ondergronds, bovengronds; Schildwacht schuldwacht; Daar komen scherven van; Sissi; De verrukking; and De mirakelen, Elizabeth, de mirakelen.

As the series progresses over a period of nearly twenty years, the style of the books becomes less experimental, but also more lyrical and reflective as the author ages. "Guilt and individual responsibility in a world of violence" remains a prominent theme, however, as Stynen explained in a World Literature Today review of Schildwacht schuldwacht, the story of an army sentry stationed in 1940 in Berlin and also Latin America. The main character in this book is "obviously an alter ego of the author," commented Stynen, which lends a personal air to the themes addressed. Sissi appears to be influenced considerably by the author's background in film, with the imagery being very cinematic. Stynen, writing again in World Literature Today, described it as "very literary, at once novel and screenplay, word and image." Again, language and artistry figure strongly in a work preoccupied with Europe's violent past and with feelings of guilt.

Daar komen scherven van draws on Michiels's meetings with and admiration of various artists of the twentieth century, including Pablo Picasso, whom he personally met in 1957. The work is a kind of combination novel, history, autobiography, and biography that is an homage to the spirit of such artists. Stynen asserted in another World Literature Today article: "No text could be more in tune with the spirit of the movement(s). Michiels's book is not a novel but rather a song of joy." While Stynen observed that the last book in the series, De mirakelen, Elizabeth, de mirakelen, is concerned with mortality, the reviewer concluded that there is still a great deal of joy in it: "More than for any other writer, for Michiels living and writing are one and the same, and as yet his joy in life is not exhausted."



World Literature Today, spring, 1980, Henri Kops, review of Book Alpha and Orchis Militaris, p. 296; summer, 1981, Henri Kops, review of De alfa-cyclus, p. 486; summer, 1994, Ludo Stynen, review of Schildwacht schuldwacht, p. 583; summer, 1996, Ludo Stynen, review of Daar komen scherven van, p. 710; summer, 1998, Ludo Stynen, review of Sissi, p. 634; summer, 2000, Ludo Stynen, review of De verrukking, p. 646; spring, 2002, Ludo Stynen, review of De mirakelen, Elizabeth, de mirakelen, p. 205.

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