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This report is taken from PN Review 118, Volume 24 Number 2, November - December 1997.

Victor George at 60 Yann Lovelock

After passing Liège the river Meuse takes a south-westerly course. From ancient times the farmlands on the southern bank have been called the Condroz, after the Celto-Germanic tribe of the Condrusi, one of the few who did not join their compatriots in the revolt of Ambiorix (54-3 BCE) and so were allowed by Caesar to retain their territory. In mediaeval times the area was divided between the county of Namur and the principality of Liège, a division still maintained by the boundary of the present Belgian provinces.

Bois-et-Borsu, where Victor George was born in October, 1937, is on the extreme edge of Liège territory. The village comprises two straggling hamlets that outgrew their boundaries and runs at an angle from the N35. It is transitional territory where characteristics of the central and eastern dialects of Walloon meet and mingle. Throughout his career George has had to divide his loyalties and still does so today as jointly secretary of the Société de Langue et de Litterature Wallonnes ('the dialect academy'), based in Liège, and editor of Les Cahiers Wallons, a monthly magazine based in Namur.

George is of interest because he represents the last of the modernist line who so transformed poetry in Walloon. His own generation, born just before and during the war, is the last to have grown up hearing dialect spoken at home and all around as a matter of course. The result is that very few writers have emerged among those born ...


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