Beyond Boundaries

Writing when Young: Bart Moeyaert as a Young Adult Author


  • Vanessa Joosen University Antwerp



young author, adolescent literature, genetic studies, age studies


Duet met valse noten (1983) started as a diary when Bart Moeyaert was twelve years old. After it was disclosed by an older brother, Moeyaert rewrote it during his teenage years as a novel about first love. This article studies the genesis and early reception of Moeyaert’s novel to reflect on young authors who fictionalize real-life experiences and desires. On the one hand, they are credited for being experts on youth and said to have a particular appeal to young audiences for that reason. On the other hand, when texts by young authors are published, they are often edited and mediated by adult professionals. For some scholars, such adult intervention compromises the authenticity of the young author’s voice, while others argue that having your work revised is an inherent part of being published. The genesis of Duet met valse noten displays a complex interaction involving several actors, including young voices. The deletion of controversial passages (a toilet scene, the longing for cigarettes and sexual scenes) illustrates this complexity: the decision to adapt them was only in part governed by adults, and while the young Moeyaert was dissatisfied with some revisions, they also contributed to his aesthetics as a poetic rather than explicit writer.

Author Biography

Vanessa Joosen, University Antwerp

Vanessa Joosen is associate professor of English literature and children's literature studies at the University of Antwerp, where she also organises the Children’s Literature Summer School. In 2019, Joosen set up the project "Constructing Age for Young Readers," for which she received an ERC Starting Grant. Joosen is the author of, amongst others, Critical and Creative Perspectives on Fairy Tales (Wayne State UP, Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Publication) and Adulthood in Children’s Literature (Bloomsbury), and has (co-)edited the volumes Grimms’ Tales Around the Globe (Wayne State UP, CHLA Honour Award for Edited Book) and Connecting Childhood and Old Age in Popular Media (University of Mississippi Press).





Beyond Boundaries