‘A dadaist classic’ noemt Somekestack Books Bezette Stad (1921). Na de Duitse en de Franse vertaling is Van Ostaijens meesterwerk nu ook verkrijgbaar in het Engels in een prachtige vertaling van David Colmer.
A hundred years after the Cabaret Voltaire first opened its doors in Zurich, it is hard to remember just how shocking, how provocative and how radical the early Dadaist movement once was. In its centenary year, one of the most important art movements of the twentieth-century is now routinely gutted of its radicalism and reduced to the status of an ‘inheritance track’ for Malcolm McLaren, Vic Reeves and Lady Gaga.
Just out from Smokestack is Paul van Ostaijen’s Dadaist classic Occupied City/Bezette Stad. Van Ostaijen (1896-1928) worked with the Dadaists in Berlin in 1919, where he witnessed the suppression of the Spartacist uprising. An avant-garde poet, satirist and revolutionary critic, he opened up Flemish poetry to modern city life, introduced Expressionism into Belgium, and was the first writer to translate Kafka from German.
Occupied City is a huge, crazy work of ‘rhythmical typography’, an extraordinary anti-war poem in several languages, a riot of type-faces exploding in all directions across the pages.
Published here for the first time in English in a translation by David Colmer, Occupied City is a sustained attack on monarchism, militarism and patriotism, a declaration of war on post-1918 Europe and a vivid reminder that Dadaism emerged out of intellectual opposition to the Great War.