Frans Kellendonk’s Allegorical Impulse - Frans Kellendonks allegorische impuls


  • Ernst Van Alphen Leiden University


Frans Kellendonk, allegory, postmodernism, irony, allegorie, postmodernisme, ironie, Paul de Man


The work of Frans Kellendonk seems doomed to be misread. It displays a preference for tropes that signify something else than what they proclaim: allegory and irony. In this article I will first discuss Kellendonk’s ideas about allegory. Next, I examine the controversial status of the trope of allegory throughout modern history, in order to gain a better understanding of Kellendonk’s complex and ambivalent use of allegory. If we want to understand allegory in its contemporary manifestations such as in Kellendonk’s work, we first need a general idea of what it in fact is, and why it is so little appreciated and understood today. Via a close reading of his novel Letter en geest I will demonstrate how Kellendonk’s work is guided by the postmodern allegorical impulse. In the case of Kellendonk, allegorical meaning is not just suggested, it is explicitly stipulated what the allegorical dimension of this text concerns: the reader. He shows the construction of his allegory, the different ‘worlds’ that structure his fiction. It is this emphatic exposure of contractedness that makes it typically postmodernist.




How to Cite

Van Alphen, E. (2016). Frans Kellendonk’s Allegorical Impulse - Frans Kellendonks allegorische impuls. Journal of Dutch Literature, 7(1). Retrieved from