This project deals with the constructive and deconstructive processes at work in Hugo Claus' novel The sorrow of Belgium. In so doing, the study wants to elucidate the modernist and postmodernist characteristics of the novel. In practica, the analysis focuses upon three layers of the text: the realistic story, the religiously inspired network of symbols behing the story, and the text as an autonomous, formal and literary discourse. The processes whereby meaning is constructed and deconstructed operate on these three levels. To study this layered process, I make use of a layered framework that combines a classica! Freudian view with structuralist Lévi-Strauss) and post-structuralist (Derrida) insights.