The Aunts, a gem-like masterpiece of Flemish literature by the great Belgian writer Cyriel Buysse, is presented here for the first time in English in a magnificent translation by David McKay. This short novel, set in the early 20th century, tells the tragic story of the petit-bourgeois Dufours. Aunt Clemence, Aunt Estelle, and Aunt Victoire dominate-and suffocate-the family with their riches and their sanctimonious morals. Mr. Dufour and his son Max are constantly on their guard, and his daughters Clara, Adrienne, and Esmée are well on the way to becoming vipers too.
Buysse's powerful indictment of hidebound rural Flemish society is leavened by memorable dialogue, humorous moments, and lyrical evocations of light and landscape. His critique of hypocrisy and inherited wealth is still scorchingly relevant, and the tender irony with which he portrays his characters will fascinate today's readers.