Book: Outsiderliteratuur. “Waanzinnige” auteurs in het Nederlands- en Franstalige discours na 1960, by Arnout De Cleene

Arnout De Cleene. Outsiderliteratuur. “Waanzinnige” auteurs in het Nederlands- en Franstalige discours na 1960 [Outsider Literature. “Mad” Authors in Dutch- and French Language Discourse from 1960 onwards]. Antwerp/Apeldoorn: Garant, 2020.

Literature written by authors who are described as “mad” is at the center of this publication. Outsider literature has a special and complex position in the cultural imagination. On the one hand, it is a marginal phenomenon. On the other hand, it is very present. Ideas about the close ties between madness, creativity and authenticity, but also the idea that madness and literature are mutually exclusive, are equally pervasive. Moreover, depending on the author, the text, the place and time, there are crucial differences in the way outsider literature is commented upon.

In Outsider Literature, Arnout De Cleene analyzes the way in which critics, scientists, anthologists and literary authors talk about outsider literature in the second half of the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century. This is done by approaching the subject from a discourse analytical perspective. The work of French philosopher Michel Foucault is handled critically and put to use to study different cases in Dutch and French language regions. Anthologies of “deranged” texts and écrits bruts, literature written by poètes maudits and fous littéraires, and authors such as Jan Arends, J.M.H. Berckmans, Sophie Podolski and Simon Vinkenoog are analyzed in detail. As such, this study gives insight into the place the mad author occupies in literary discourse, and the reader is given an answer to the question how madness and literature function in relation to each other.

Arnout De Cleene holds a degree in Cultural Studies and Literary Studies. He curates exhibitions and writes about literary, artistic and cultural topics.

More information can be found here.

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