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the flaxfield: Reviews and Comments

The Flaxfield, a 1907 novel by the Flemish writer Stijn Streuvels, is a peasant tragedy reminiscent of the grim pastorals of Knut Hamsun….Before resolving itself into violent melodrama, the story offers a memorable picture of a remote and bygone place and time.”

Bruce Allen, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“…a fine translation….The narrative is compelling in the beauty of its serene prose and the authenticity of the characters and their lives. Not only the Vermeulen family but also the farming community that surrounds them are precisely described. Streuvels’ artistry makes the fate of the flax crop a matter of vivid concern to the reader.”

Publishers Weekly

The Flaxfield has now been published for the first time in English in an able translation of Streuvels’ quirky Dutch dialect….[It] is an intensely lyrical novel of generational conflict and natural disaster. …While this novel, with its mythic landscape of rolling Flemish green and huge, boiling sky may not be the masterpiece it was once considered, it does convey strongly and with utter conviction the smell and flavor of a lost, hard life.”

Stephan Salisbury, The New York Times Book Review

“This…narrative about a family struggle on a turn-of-the-century Flanders farm…climaxes when paternal violence turns the natural order on its head…The naturalism here is heavy-handed by modern standards, but the book faithfully renders the lyricism and cruelty of peasant life.

Kirkus Reviews

The Flaxfield…does require a readjustment of one’s sensibilities to appreciate this lyrical reflection of what matters in life and what does not as put into perspective by closeness to nature. Or say, rather, that turning from contemporary fiction to Streuvels is like leaving NYC for a week in the country.”

—Brooke K. Horvath, Review of Contemporary Fiction


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