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Occupied City by Paul van Ostaijen

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Occupied City/Bezette Stad is one of the key anti-war works of the Dadaist movement. First published in 1921 as a work of ‘rhythmical typography’, it is primarily about the German occupation of Antwerp during the First World War. But it is also a love song to the modern city, and a declaration of war on post-1918 Europe. Designed and illustrated by the Flemish artist Oscar Jespers, this epic poem was originally advertised as ‘a book devoid of Biblical beauty / a book for royalists and republicans / for doctors and illiterates / a book that lists every important song of the last ten years / in short: as indispensable as a cookbook / “What every girl should know.”’

Paul van Ostaijen (1896-1928) was one of the most original and influential Belgian writers of the twentieth century. 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. After the First World War he met George Grosz, Herwarth Walden and Walter Mehring in Berlin, and later opened an art gallery in Brussel

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