Hugues Viane is a widower who has turned to the melancholy, decaying city of Bruges as the ideal location in which to mourn his wife and as a backdrop for the narcissistic wanderings of his disturbed spirit. He becomess obsessed with a young dancer whom he believes is the double of his beloved wife. The consequent drama leads Hugues to psychological torment and humiliation, culminating in a deranged murder. This 1892 work is a poet’s novel, dense, visionary and haunting. Bruges, the ‘dead city’, becomes a metaphor for Hugues' dead wife as he follows its mournful labyrinth of streets and canals in a cyclical promenade of reflection and allusion -- the ultimate evocation of Rodenbach’s lifelong love affair with the enduring mystery and mortuary atmosphere of Bruges.