How visible was the Flemish writer Hendrik Conscience and his most famous novel De leeuw van Vlaanderen (1838, The Lion of Flanders) in Scandinavia? The bibliography of Hilda Van Assche, Conscience in Scandinavië. Een bibliografische verkenning (1985), is the point of departure of this article. Works of Conscience got translated into the Scandinavian languages and Finnish in the long eighteenth century. De leeuw van Vlaanderen was translated more than 50 years after it was published in 1838 into Norwegian (1892), Danish (1901) and Finnish (1919). In addition to Van Assche’s bibliography, I searched digital databases of the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish libraries for works of Conscience in the original language or other foreign languages. After the last translation was made in Scandinavia, a fair amount of Conscience’s works in the original language and in other languages such as French were included in Scandinavian libraries. De leeuw van Vlaanderen can also be found in Swedish libraries. The (in)visibility of Conscience in Dutch literary histories written in Scandinavia was also investigated.
The last part of the article deals with the question why De leeuw van Vlaanderen was translated not until the end of the nineteenth century into Danish, Norwegian and in 1919 into Finnish, but never into Swedish. My supposition is that developments in Scandinavian literary history and language politics played an important role and that the novel is an example of transnational romanticism. But further research needs to be done. The cultural transmitters and their motives to translate Conscience are still under researched.