A Dog of Flanders
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|Author||Marie Louise de la Ramée (as Ouida)|
|Published||1872 (Chapman and Hall)|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
The story, of English origin, has not been read widely in Belgium, but is becoming better known because of the tourists it attracts to Antwerp. There is a small statue of Nello and Patrasche at the Kapelstraat in the Antwerp suburb of Hoboken, and a commemorative plaque in front of the Antwerp Cathedral donated by Toyota. The story is widely read in Japan, and has been adapted into several films and anime.
In 19th century Belgium, a boy named Nello becomes an orphan at the age of two when his mother dies in the Ardennes. His grandfather Jehann Daas, who lives in a small village near the city of Antwerp, takes him in.
One day, Nello and Jehann Daas find a dog who was almost beaten to death, and name him Patrasche. Due to the good care of Johaan Daas, the dog recovers, and from then on, Nello and Patrasche are inseparable. Since they are very poor, Nello has to help his grandfather by selling milk. Patrasche helps Nello pull their cart into town each morning.
Nello falls in love with Aloise, the daughter of a well-off man in the village named Nicholas Cogez. Nicholas doesn't want his daughter to have a poor sweetheart. Although Nello is illiterate, he is very talented in drawing. He enters a junior drawing contest in Antwerp, hoping to win the first prize, 200 francs per year. However, the jury selects somebody else.
Afterwards, he is accused of causing a fire by Nicholas (the fire occurred on his property) and his grandfather dies. His life becomes even more desperate. Having no place to stay, Nello goes to the cathedral of Antwerp (see Rubens' The Elevation of the Cross), but he doesn't have enough money to enter.[clarification needed] On the night of Christmas Eve, he and Patrasche go to Antwerp and, by chance, find the door to the church open. The next morning, the boy and his dog are found frozen to death in front of the triptych.
The Hoboken myth
Quite recently (not earlier than 1980), the village of the story was presumed to be Hoboken, but without any reasonable evidence from the literature itself. Hoboken became involved with the story through Jan Corteel, a former Antwerp tourist office employee. He used the Schelde river as the "canal" and Hoboken as the village. However, the story itself mentions a canal (known as "De Vaart") between Mechelen and Leuven, and the Leuven Kermis.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
The novel has been adapted for cinema and television in live-action and animation:
- A Dog of Flanders (1914), a short film directed by Howell Hansel.
- A Boy of Flanders (1924), directed by Victor Schertzinger and starring Jackie Coogan as Nello.
- A Dog of Flanders (1935), directed by Edward Sloman.
- A Dog of Flanders (1960), directed by James B. Clark. The dog was played by Spike.
- Dog of Flanders (Japan, 1975), a Japanese animation TV series produced by Nippon Animation.
- My Patrasche (Japan, 1992), a Japanese animation TV series produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha.
- The Dog of Flanders (Japan, 1997), directed by Yoshio Kuroda. This was a remake of the 1975 TV series.
- A Dog of Flanders (1999), directed by Kevin Brodie.
- Barking Dogs Never Bite (2000), a South Korean satirical version directed by Bong Joon-ho.
- Snow Prince (Japan, 2009), directed by Joji Matsuoka.
- A Dog of Flanders, 2011, Minoto Studios
For its authentic 19th century buildings, the Open Air Museum of Bokrijk, Flanders was used as scenery for the 1975 and 1992 anime and the 1999 film.
None of the film versions, excluding the 1997 Japanese movie, use the novel's ending, preferring to substitute a more optimistic one. In one of the film versions, Nello and his dog go the village church. The pastor, finding them there, covers them with a woolen blanket, thus saving their lives. Two days later, one of the judges comes. Because he thought Nello was the true winner, he asks him to stay with him. As years pass, Patrasche dies and Nello becomes a famous artist.
- Patrasche, a Dog of Flanders - Made in Japan (Belgium, 2007), a documentary film directed by Didier Volckaert and An van Dienderen.
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