- Category : 1899-births
- Type : GP
- Profile : 1/4 - Investigating / Opportunist
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Laws 3
Belgian diplomat, critic, poet and writer of Flemish literature.
He was born as Joannes Alphonsius Albertus "Jan-Albert" Goris in Antwerp. His strict Roman Catholic parents sent him the Jesuits of Sint Ignatius. End 1917 he left them with a "consilium abeundi" because of his Flemish (flamingant) activism during WW1.
He first worked for a publisher and had little money. In 1920 he debuted as a poet with "Loflitanie van de Heilige Franciscus van Assisi" in the modernistic periodical Ruimte (space). The poem written "Oogst 1919" begins with: "Franciscus die arm waart, bid voor mij. Mijn weekgeld sterft reeds zondagavond in rozenblaadjes op mijn kamer (Francis, who was poor, pray for me. My week money already died Sunday in the rose petals in my room.) That time he was influenced by the Belgian poet and writer Paul van Ostaijen (22 February 1896 – 18 March 1928). His modernistic poem received a lot of criticism in Catholic Belgium, but later it was recognised as a masterpiece, a young man's search for his soul.
In 1925 he went to the Catholic University of Leuven, where he obtained a PhD in history and moral sciences with the dissertation "Études sur les colonies marchandes méridionales (portugaises, espagnoles, italiennes) à Anvers de 1488 à 1567". It dealt with the influence of immigrants and refugees in the Antwerp during the Dutch Golden Age. He derived his pen-name Marnix Gijsen from both the by him admired Protestant mayor of Antwerp Philips of Marnix, Lord of Saint-Aldegonde (7 March/20 July 1540, Brussels – 15 December 1598, Leiden) and the surname of his Catholic mother Euphrasia Gijsen (1865-1961).
Later he studied at the University of Freiburg, Paris (Sorbonne) and London (London School of Economics). In 1927 he gave lessons in economic history at the university of Leuven. From 1928 to 1933 he was an official in the municipality of Antwerp. He was chef de cabinet of the mayor. Subsequently, he was employed by the state administration in Brussels from 1934 to 1939. From 1939 to 1941 he was Commissioner-General of Tourism.
Then he stayed in New York until 1964 as Belgian Commissioner for Information and was also minister plenipotentiary. As "The Voice of America", he kept a weekly radio chat on Saturday night from May 1946 till 15 August 1964. On 14 August 1964 he returned to Belgium and lived in his house Orpheus at Elsene. April 1968 he retired as a civil servant and diplomat.
Marnix Gijsen was a prolific writer. After WW2 he broke with Catholicism and started to write novels. He became a stoic agnostic that wrote about mythical themes. His first novel Joachim van Babylon (1947) dealt with the biblical Susanna
On 5 October 1974 he received the prestigious Price of Dutch Letters in Den Haag from Queen Juliana. Since 1956 the price is awarded every three years in Den Haag or Brussel. The jury praised the entire, extensive oeuvre of Marnix Gijsen in the lyrical, epic and essayistic genre distinguished by perfection in style, with a deep knowledge of the human being, a broad understanding of the time and the cosmopolitan world, an impressive cultural and spiritual wealth. The versatility of his talents is rare.
In 1975 he was knighted. His parole became Qui transtulit, sustinet (He who transplanted still sustains).
He died 29 September 1984 in Lubbeek, Belgium.