A Dog of Flanders

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A Dog of Flanders
Author Marie Louise de la Ramée (as Ouida)
Country UK
Language English
Genre Drama, Tragedy
Published 1872 (Chapman and Hall)
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Pages 293 pp

A Dog of Flanders is an 1872 novel by English author Marie Louise de la Ramée published with her pseudonym "Ouida". It is about a Flemish boy named Nello and his dog, Patrasche.

The story, of English origin, has not been read widely in Belgium though the story is about a boy and his dog 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 Japanese films and anime.

Plot summary[edit]

Children selling milk from a dogcart, Belgium, ca. 1890

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 Jehann 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 Nicholas Cogez, a well-off man in the village, but 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 wishes to go to the cathedral of Antwerp (see Rubens' The Elevation of the Cross), but the exhibition held inside the building is only for paying customers and he's out of money. 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.

Hoboken myth[edit]

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.[citation needed]

Film, TV and theatrical adaptations[edit]


The novel has been adapted for cinema and television in live-action and animation:

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.[citation needed]

None of the film versions, excluding the 1997 Japanese movie and Snow Prince (2009) use the novel's ending, preferring to substitute a more optimistic one. In Snow Prince (2009), the boy and the dog are found frozen to death under a tree. In one of the film versions,[which?] Nello and his dog go the village church, where the pastor 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.

Documentary film[edit]

Additional Information[edit]

Similar stories:


  1. ^ Matsuoka, Joji (Director) (2009). Snow Prince. Japan. 
  2. ^ Volckaert, Didier & van Dienderen, An (Directors) (2007). Patrasche, a Dog of Flanders - Made in Japan. Belgium. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]