Hugo Claus / Hugo Claus – A Gentle Destruction

Hugo Claus – A Gentle Destruction

Hugo Claus – A Gentle Destruction

Previously published in

  • Spain (Catalan translation)
  • Denmark
  • France

About the book

The start of the 1950s. André, the narrator of A Gentle Destruction, meets Sabine de Comptine d’Aarselaer, a woman who unites beauty with passion. He follows her from Ghent to Paris, where he eventually lands in the Flemish-Dutch artists’ colony, an environment Hugo Claus describes sometimes satirically, sometimes movingly, though always flawlessly.

‘Iris, who is divorced from her engineer, lived for four weeks in my farmer’s hut. She bought the bedroom curtains and hung them up. A few times she danced in her underwear in the orchard. She thought I looked like her ex-husband. But young. She cut my toenails. And one morning she was nowhere to be found. Five hundred francs lay on the table underneath an ashtray overflowing with her English cigarettes, along with a letter: ‘You don’t love me. You don’t love anyone. I can’t take it.’


‘In A Gentle Destruction Claus describes the ideals, romances and fights of the 50s. The book is a romantic love story, but it also shows the miserable circumstances in which they lived’ – TROUW

On previous work:

‘The Sorrow of Belgium is impressive in size and ambition: Bildungsroman and epic, it is as if A Portrait of The Artist As A Young Man were written to the scale of Ulysses… A formidable achievement’ – INDEPENDENT


HUGO CLAUS (1929-2008) ranks as the most important Flemish writer since WWII. His supremely realistic work broke with a traditional way of writing. Characteristic of his early work is a surprising and powerful style combined with an effervescent use of language. Later his prose became more sober in tone but the poetic force always remained, as did his ability to cause a sensation. His wide-ranging oeuvre consists of novels, stories, poems, plays and film scripts. Claus received more than fifty prizes. His international prizes include the Prix Lugné-Poë (1955), the Ford Foundation Grant (1959), the Prix International Pier Paolo Pasolini (1997), the Aristeion Literature Prize (1998), the Premio Nonino (2000) and the Preis für Europäische Poesie (2001).

© Gerald Dauphin

Additional book information

  • Modern classic – Novella
  • ISBN 9789403188904
  • Number of pages: 144
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €17,99