‘With a stretched arm. Like Superman, not like Hitler’. The Politics of Commemorative Irreverence in Astronaut van Oranje (2013) by Andy Fierens and Michaël Brijs - ‘Met gestrekte arm. Zoals Superman, niet zoals Hitler’. De uitdagingen van het culturele geheugen in Astronaut van Oranje (2013) van Andy Fierens en Michaël Brijs

Jan Lensen


This essay offers an analysis of the aesthetical and political implications of the seemingly random use of names of figures from Belgian collaborationist history in the novel Astronaut van Oranje (2013) by Flemish authors Andy Fierens and Michaël Brijs. More specifically, it investigates the framing of the memory of World War II in Belgium by means of a satirical fantasy story that fuses elements from the dystopian imagination, science fiction, Gothic horror, and popular culture. Drenched in satire, hyperbole, absurdities, coarse humor, and blatant clichés, the novel eschews historiographical relevance and deliberately ignores the sensibilities that govern public and political discourses about this war past. By doing so, so I argue, it offers a provocative engagement with established practices in both Belgian and Flemish cultural memory, implementing what I will call a ‘politics of commemorative irreverence’.


Second World War; collaborationism; cultural memory; Andy Fierens; dystopia; science fiction; satire / Tweede Wereldoorlog; collaboratie; cultureel geheugen; Andy Fierens; dystopie; science fiction; satire

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