Saturday, 5 August 2017

New Addition: Champfleury's 'The Faïence Violin' in English translation

Champfleury, The Faïence Violin. 1895. trans. Helen B. Dole. Thomas Y Crowell & Company: New York.

Read Online (in English)
As both novelist and theorist, Champfleury was one of the principle formulators and organisers of the Realist movement and in both literature and the plastic arts – he ghost-wrote Courbet's most important manifestos.  Although Realism is typically reductively explained as a straightforward "rejection" or "attack" on Romanticism, it should be noted that Champfleury was mentored by the arch-Romantics Gautier and Nerval, and was one of the first group of avant-garde historians to take on the mission of recording the rapidly-vanishing history of avant-garde Romanticism; he wrote the first book on Romanticist illustration, a translation of Hoffman's fantasy stories, several biographies and studies of underground Romantics including Nerval and Houssaye, and Gavarni, one on marginalised "eccentrics" of Paris,  and a series of studies of the history of caricature and cartooning (this archive contains his History of Caricature During the Republic, Empire, and Restoration and his children's book Mr. Tringle – see the Historiography & Literature tabs).

Despite his importance to both literary and art history and the huge range and extent of his writing, Champfleury is virtually unheard-of in the English-speaking world today. This is one of the few translations of his work available. It tells the story of an obsessed collector of antique violins, whose pursuit of a prize instrument leads him into various quandaries. It is part of a tradition of French literature written about and for archivists, bibliophiles, and collectors, of which Charles Nodier and Bibliophile Jacob were major early figures (see the archive's copy of Bibliophile Jacob/Paul Lacroix's My Republic in Literature, for instance). This copy is well-read, its cheaply-produced soft leather binding chipping apart and its cover detaatched; the interior remains strongly bound and readable.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

New Addition: 1925 "Les Annales" Magazine.

Les Annales politiques et Littéraire: Revue Universelle, Illustré, Hebdomadaire. ed. Adolphe Brisson. (Aug 23, 1925). Paris. Paperback Quarto. 26 pp. With Sheet Music Supplement: La Musique des Annales. Paperback Octavo, 8 pp.
Les Annales politiques et Littéraire: Revue Universelle, Illustré, Hebdomadaire. ed. Adolphe Brisson. (Oct. 11, 1925). Paris. Paperback Quarto.
Les Annales politiques et Littéraire was a journal of literary and cultural history edited by Adolphe Brisson, and had been founded by his father. Brisson had pronounced right-wing leanings, and although the magazine itself was ostensibly apolitical in mandate, the fact that it took such a continuous interest in Romanticism throughout its long existence (see the 1903 issue focusing on Hernani, also collected in the Revenant Archive) is evidence of the extent to which the legacy of the movement's mainstream – and to a certain extent its more radical forms as well – had been pacified and co-opted by bourgeois culture by century's end, to the extent where fanfic about Romanticist subculture in the 1830s is included alongside a nationalistic text by Maurice Barrés,whose parodic "trial" had recently been the pretext for the dissolution of the Paris Dada group, and a racist pro-colonial article by the contemptible ethnologist Gustave le Bon (whose personal copy of Gautier's History of Romanticism, used to research his published attacks against the avant-garde, is held in the Revenant Archive; see Historiography).
These issues include episodes 4 and 12 of an illustrated serial novel, Les Enfants d'Hernani (The Children of Hernani) by Tancrède Martel, a spirited and light-hearted saga of young Romanticist writers and artists. Essentially Romanticist fanfic avant le lettre, it is packed with references, in-jokes, and trivia regarding the subculture, and the Romantics themselves would no doubt appreciate its local colour. It boasts a huge cast of characters, including historical avant-gardists such as Petrus Borel, Gérard de Nerval, Camille Rogier, Frédéric Lemaitre, Devéria, Hugo, d'Angers, Vabre, etc. etc. etc. In fact Martel, one of the most respected historical novelists of his day, had been close to many of the Parnassian and older Decadent writers such as Théodore de Banville, Jean Richepin, Barbey d'Aurevilly, and with the aging Hugo himself. The novel never seems to have published on its own, which is a shame.

Additionally, the August Issue includes a supplement of sheet music containing three short songs, One, La Ronde autour du monde (The Ring Around the World), contains lyrics by the Symbolist Paul Fort (see his manuscript poem and inscribed copy of Hélène en fleur et Charlemagne held in the Revenant Archive). Another has passed through so many translations and adaptations that six musicians and writers share credit – La Veuve joyeuse (The Joyous Widow), by Franz Lehar, with G.-A. de Caillavet, & Robert de Flers, after Meilhac, Victor Léon, & Léo Stein. The last is Premier Amour (First Love) by G. Michiels.

The October Issue, in addition to the episode of the novel, includes the article by Le Bon mentioned above, a short story by Colette, and an article on the theatrical riot at the premier of Wagner's Tannhauser in 1861. There seems no way to recover it short of tracking down and acquiring every issue, but some parts of it can be found in issues online at Gallica HERE.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Exciting New Addition: Annotated Working Scripts of a Theatrical Set-Designer from the 1820s

Omnibus of annotated working scripts of an unidentified production designer of a provincial French opera house. Hardbound Octavo; spine reads "Théatre / 7 / Opéra". Containing: Gioachino Rossini, Jean-Baptiste d'Épagny, & Auguste Rousseau, La Dame du lac (The Lady of the Lake). 1825. First Edition. Hautecoeur-Martinet, Paris / Castil-Blaze, La Forêt de sénart, ou La Partie de chasse de Henry IV (The Sénart Forest, or The Hunting Party of Henry IV). 1826. First Edition. Castil-Blaze, Paris. / Bujac & G. Onslow, L'Alcade de la Vega. 1825. Libraire des Spectacles de sa Majeste: Paris. / Castil-Blaze, T. Sauvage, & Karl-Maria Weber, Robin des Bois, ou Les Trois Balles (Robin Hood, or The Three Bullets). 1825. First Edition. J.-N. Barba: Paris. / Eugène Scribe, G. Delavigne [sic. Casimir Delavigne?] & Daniel Auber, Le Maçon (The Mason). 1825, First Edition. Aimé André: Paris. / Paul de Kock & Frédéric Kreube, Les Enfans de Maître Pierre (Master Pierre's Children). 1825. First Edition. J.N. Barba: Paris. With heavy marginalia, stage and blocking directions, production notes, and handwritten pasted-on redactions.

This bound volume is a potential treasure-trove of insight into the working practices of French opera at the end of the Bourbon regime: it collects the first printings of six opera libretti from 1825–26, all of them the working copies of an identified scenographer or production designer of a provincial French opera house.

Most plays and operas in France premiered in Paris; the official libretto would be printed almost immediately, copies of which would be used by provincial opera houses in the country's other major cities as their working scripts, at least for those (such as scenographers) who needed to work only with lyrics and dramatic action rather than the music. Unfortunately, it has not yet been determined in which city the owner worked. (See the handwritten notes on the frontispieces below giving the dates of the provincial premiers, underneath the printed dates of the Paris premier.)

The six libretti bound together here contain hundreds of pieces of marginalia indicating stage directions, blocking, musical cues, set design, and other production notes. Unfortunately, pamphlets of various sizes have all been trimmed to the size of the bound omnibus, cutting off some marginal notations.

Even the physical nature of the marks betray the many hectic working conditions involved, and the progressive stages of thinking and re-thinking the production's details.

These scripts were clearly used both in the studio or office, and on the set itself; some extensive written marginal notes in pen result from careful planning and contain directions for the stage and set design or other production elements:
Meanwhile, in other places on-set decisions, changes, and notes are scrawled hastily and awkwardly with pencils or broken pens, using brackets and a personal short-hand of symbols, as if made while the owner was in the midst of another task or perched atop a ladder:
Rips, tears, smudges of dirt and grime sometimes remind us of the physical conditions of stage production.

Throughout the scripts, we find numbered blocking instructions, indicating which quadrant of the stage each character moved to at key moments in the production. 
What played successfully to cosmopolitan Parisian audiences might not always fly in the provinces, and even the original productions might have departed from the published version by the end of their run due to audience response.  The copy of The Alcade of de Vega contains heavy redactions that reflect the changes made by the opera house for their production.

These redactions were hand-written in fine, small hands by professional copyists, meticulously cut and and pasted into as many copies as necessary for the cast and crew involved – a labour-intensive, collaborative version of the operation now encoded into word-processors. 

The idea of the composer's and librettist's authority over their production was still fairly new and weakly encoded in the law. As a result, some of the redactions and re-writings are quite extensive, consisting of entirely re-written scenes (as below) and the insertion of songs by other composers.

Other cuts, like the one below, are hastily slashed out with what seems to be either a bad pen or an awkward writing position, and were probably made last-minute or even post-premier under pressure of production conditions or early feedback.

Such redactions were typical. In his Robin des Bois (Robin Hood), Castil-Blaze largely collaged his whole opera together out of music from various other composers, underpinning a new libretto.

Here he was following a standard practice, for musicians had been treated as hired craftsmen until within living memory, and intellectual property was a concept still struggling for acceptance. Castil-Blaze made much of his living adapting, re-orchestrating, redacting, abridging, and splicing music for the Parisian and provincial stage. Attitudes were changing, however, and Hector Berlioz and Carl Maria von Weber, among others, rebuked him for his appropriations in this and other plays; Castil-Blaze responded that he was popularising the music through his interventions. In response to Robin Hood, Weber made a legal arrangement to protect his next opera from a similar infraction, constituting an important precedent for the copyright.
I am happy to transcribe, describe, consult, or (when facilities become available, soon) scan passages of the book for researchers; there may be a slight time-lag depending on my teaching schedule. I can be contacted at (NOT as a blog response, please – I may not see it for months)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

New Addition: Biographies of Famous Outlaws!

Lives and Exploits of the Most Noted Highwaymen, Robbers and Murderers, of All Nations, Drawn From the Most Authentic Sources and Brought Down to the Present Time. (Undated, c. 1850) Silas Andrus & Son: Hartford. Cloth-bound Sextodecimo, 287 pp. Inscribed "Thos. England / Lowell / [?????] / 18?9" & stamped "Thomas England".

Since time immemorial, people who have disenfranchised from their dominant culture economically, culturally, or intellectually have enjoyed tales of outlaws, robbers, pirates, and other criminals outwitting the avatars of power; examples include the cunning thievery of Odysseus, the voyages of Sinbad, the adventures of Robin Hood, the exploits of privateers and pirates, Billy the Kid, Bonnie and Clyde, gangster rap, and on and on.

As literacy spread over the course of the 17th and 18th Centuries, popular outlets for this folklore took the form of lurid pamphlets reporting the details of sensationalised murder, banditry and piracy trials; these spawned hundreds of chapbooks presenting embroidered biographies of famous criminals, collected in books such as Defoe's influential General History of the Pyrates, and eventually evolved into the famous Victorian "penny dreadfuls".

This anthology of biographies of famous British outlaws is a testament of this tradition, complete with the rather rough wood-cuts that adorned the ephemeral press of the day. It also highlights the strange mass-psychology through which this pride in the a-moral underdog becomes enmeshed with a sense of nationalist superiority: though the title proudly announces as its subject the most noted criminals "of All Nations" and all time, in fact all but one entry describe English criminals of the prevous century or two, and the  opening of the one french criminal includes an apology to the reader for seeming to imply that a single one of the greatest criminals in history might not be English, then goes onto "claim" him for the English since most of his crimes were committed in the British Isles. Though unsigned, a pencil annotation in the copy in the University of California Library (linked to above) attributes the text to the writer Charles Whitehead.

Appropriately enough, this book was itself an illegal pirate edition printed in the US from a British (obviously) original; in fact the publisher, Silas Andrus, began as a bookbinder but built his career on pirated European literature. The copy belonged to Thomas England of Lowell, Massachusetts, about whom little is known except that he served as a Sergeant in the 30th Massachusetts Infantry during the entire span of the Civil War and died in New Hampshire.

Monday, 29 May 2017

New Addition: Early Keepsake Book w/Hand-coloured illustrations

Le Petit Volage Fixé à Paris. Author and Artist uncredited. Undated, 1809. Janet & Madame de Musique: Paris. Bound with: Souvenir des Dames. Undated, c. 1809. Janet: Paris. 1813 Printing. Hardcover 64mo. with hand-painted etchings.

This is a forerunner of the Keepsake book, a mainstream format that later ended up, in the hands of this very publisher, exercising an important influence on Romanticism. Originating in England late in the eighteenth century, the original keepsakes were lavishly produced volumes designed to show off every aspect of the bibliographic craft. They typically included elaborate typography, page design and ornamentation, with finely-printed engravings tipped-in throughout, printed on high-quality paper and often finely-tooled and gilt bindings, though the latter varied since most books were bound individually by their owners.

Although this book lacks the anthological character of the Keepsake, instead presenting a self-contained series of anonymous emblem poems, and its original owner evidently could not afford an ornate binding, it does exhibit many of the qualities that would later lead its publisher to the keepsake format: elegant typography and design, copious tipped-in illustrations (in this with the engravings hand-tinted in watercolour), and an evidently female intended audience.

In fact, the differences themselves make this book match the name "keepsake" better than the format to which it was applied: it is meant to be used, written in, personalized, and kept as a memento. Technically, the copy consists of two books bound together, but they were marketed and sold as a bound pair beginning in 1809.

The first half, Le Petit Volage Fixé à Paris (The Little Butterfly Stuck in Paris), consists of twelve iconographic emblems of Cupid (the titular "butterfly") engaged in various activities and scenarios, each accompanying a poem that explicates the image. The etchings are executed in neo-classical style and each is finely hand-tinted in watercolour, usually in four or five colours. Neither the artist nor the poet are identified.
The second-half, Souvenir des Dames (Ladies' Memory), is essentially a planner to keep track of recurring salons, meetings, etc. with a blank page for each day of the week, followed by a page for each month of the year (topped by a zodiacal emblem) in which to record important life events for future remembrance–thus, keepsake.

At the end are several blank pages, followed by a fold-out chart of the Saints Days for the year 1813, signalling that this copy is a re-issue for that year. It was not used, unfortunately, and these pages remain blank.

This copy is cheaply bound in simple green cardboard, implying that the 22-franc price stretched their budget; but the inside is beautiful. On every page, text and image are presented together through engraved borders either shaped and shaded or hand-enhanced in colour; the italic typeface is headed by titles in engraved cursive in elegant lines; verses are ornamented with patterns of abstract flowing swirls. Twenty years later, under Janet's son, the press would continue its concern with design to become the most extreme champion of Romanticist typography and design, including that in the annual Annales Romantiques anthologies, many of them collected in this archive. 

Throughout its existence, Janet seems to have devoted much attention to building and serving a female readership, and published a number of feminist texts (in this archive for instance, see both of the (different) books entitled Le Mérite des femmes, (the other is listed HERE) and the Le Livre de beauté in 'Anthologies, as well as the many female writers published in the Annales Romantiques anthologies.

Friday, 26 May 2017

New Addition: 1824 Feminist Poem & a Tidy Bibliographic Knot

Gabriel-Marie Legouvé, Le Mérite des femmes (The Merit of Women). New Edition, Augmented with Unpublished Poems. (1824). Louis Janet: Paris. Hardcover 32mo.

This book presents an intriguing little bibliographic riddle: an 1824 reprint of an 1801 feminist tract in verse by Gabriel-Marie Legouvé, it shares a title–but not text–with an 1816 feminist history by Charles Malo, who five years later would take over editorship of the Annales Romantiques anthologies, for this book's publisher. Though the confusion of titles and publishers is tightly knotted-up, the convergence does make a certain amount of sense due to the feminist leanings of everybody involved (all men). 

Legouvé's text, his most famous work, advocates greater respect for women and the reversal of many stereotypes, though it does not touch on concrete political reform. A respected member of the Académie Française, he went mad in 1810 after the death of his wife and spent his last few years in an asylum. His son Ernest carried on much of his project, and published pioneering studies of female consciousness and pedagogy and a social history of femininity.

The poem itself (here's the text in a different edition) fills 38 pages arguing against misogyny on moral, maternal, mythological, and historical grounds, followed by 73 pages of explicatory notes, followed by a collection of other poems plus a short story and an essay on love by Legouvé, all also annotated. This copy is quite thoroughly used, its binding peeling away from the boards.

While Janet was not the poem's original publisher, it made sense for him to reprint it, for his press focused at this time on a female audience. It was probably in this connection that Janet published the first edition of Malo's work of the same name in 1816, the year following the reign of Napoleon's militantly misogynist (even by the time's standards) regime. Though Legouvé's poem had inspired a slew of responses and parodies, and Malo's must intentionally echo it, the latter does not seem to be directly derivative.

The original Janet press was run by Pierre-Etienne Janet, but his son Louis began this, his own imprint in 1810, on which this was printed. Although he continued to publish some classicist writers (sometimes even in explicitly Romanticist anthologies!), his sympathies were with the incipient Romantic movement, and the year after this copy was printed, he took over publication of the important Annales Romantiques anthology, collected in this archive. In 1829, he turned over editorship to Charles Malo, tying off our bibliographic knot.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Exciting New Addition: Corrected manuscript of collaborative Symbolist short story!

Paul & Victor Margueritte, Célibitaires (Bachelors). Undated, c.1895–1918. Corrected handwritten Manuscript, processed and marked by publisher and printer.

The history of the avant-garde is rife with pairs and sets of siblings: the Jancos, the Duchamps, the Hendricks, the Hugos, the Goncourts, the Mussets, the Argüelles, the Devérias, the Borels, the Deschamps, and many more. While in many cases siblings collaborated in collective movements, they tended to do so mainly through distinct bodies of work. In the avant-garde community of the late 19th Century however, some siblings began to develop intensely collaborative writing process that explored and built upon the filial bond and their instinctive shared understandings, operating as a single intellectual unit and crafting corpi in which their individual influences were indistinguishable; these processes were later taken up by practitioners within and without the avant-garde such as the Brothers Quay, the Cohen Brothers, and Gilbert & George. The most influential of these literary brothers were the Goncourts and the Marguerittes.
The Marguerite brothers were born in Algeria in 1860 (Paul) and 1866 (Victor), the sons of a French military colonial official; each started publishing at the age of 23. Initially joining the Naturalist movement, Paul broke with Zola in 1887. The brothers began collaborating regularly around 1895, making their name with a series of Naturalist military novels about the Franco-Prussian war (in which their father, who served with distinction and died in combat, appears as a main character) and going on to produce plays and childrens' books in collaboration. They were involved with less mainstream political ideas including Feminism and moderate Socialism. Both wrote prose poetry and drama in the Parnassian and Symbolist traditions, focusing on experimental engagement with the Pierrot cycle, pantomime, and charades (one prose-poem by Paul Margueritte is translated in Merrill's Pastels in Prose anthology in this archive).

As of this cataloguing, I have only begun the process of transcribing and translating the story; this description will be updated when it is complete. The story seems to deal with the laws and culture surrounding marriage, divorce, and the "New Woman," a topic on which the brothers (especially Victor) often wrote both fiction and polemic essays. It is dedicated to Edme Piot, a leftist legislator involved with these issues, though detailed information on him is sketchy. (Page LIII of the introduction to THIS 1921 book attacking the 'Police des moers" (loosely translated "the Morality Police") mentions both Piot and Margueritte in this connection–Piot quoted near the top on the law of patrimonial succession, Margueritte cited at the bottom for his work as an 'historian of manners' dealing with the institution of divorce.
Transcribing and translating the story will be a gradual process and awaits several current translation projects' completion; but here are tentative transcriptions and translations of the first page and final paragraph of the story, to be expanded as the opportunity arises:
            À M. le sénateur [Piol].

    Eugénie [Pérusse], dans un flot d’employées, descendait un des étroits escaliers qui chaque soir, cinq heures sonnant à la grande horlage des [Ch???n] [d???r] [Réunis], degorgeaient une [c?ut????] de femmes, [empressais] de fuir leurs bureaux, de gagner la Rue. A mesure qu’elles descendaient, les mornes visages s’éclairaient, semblaient secouer le poids des habitudes, la fatigue de la journée. quelques unes [gardaient] à leurs traits tirés une pâleur jaune, un indélébite ennui.
    – Allons bon! il pleut! s’exclama une jolie [voix] grave, et pourtant gaie, où de la jeunesse résonnait encore.
    Eugénie [Pérusse] regarde son amie germaine; et sur ses joues [mates] où depuis longtemps la fleur du [sang] s’était fanée, [un] doux sourire admiratif [paria]:
    – on dirait que ça te fait plaisir! Rien ne t’en [nuie], toi!

[ . . . ]
    Alors, tout le poids de sa détresse lui retomba sur le coeur, et tandis que le wagon roulait dans les ténébres, au cinglement dela pluie qui s’écrasait aux vitres, elle se renfonça dans son coin, pleurant à chaudes larmes, éperdàment.
in English:
               To Monseur the Senator Piol

    Eugénie [Pérusse], among a flood of employees, descended one of the narrow stairways which each day, five hours on the dot to the huge timekeeper of [Ch???n] [?????] [Gathered], disgorged a ??????? of women, [was rushing] to flee their offices, to make it to the street. As they descended, the dismal faces lit up, seemed to shake off the burden of habit, the exhaustion of the journey. A few kept in their drawn features a yellow pallor, an indelible ennui.
    – Oh great! it’s raining! cried out a pretty voice, serious yet gleeful, in which youth still resounded.
    Eugénie [Pérusse] watched her best friend; and on her cheek [?????] where for a long time the bloom of [blood] had wilted, a soft admiring smile [spoke]:
    – you’d think this made you happy! Nothing [????] there, you!
[ . . . ]

    Then, the entire burden of her distress descended over her heart, and as the carriage tolled into the gloom, the rain’s whipping which crashed  at the windowpanes, she shoved herself into her corner, weeping her eyes out, in desperation.
Though no bibliographic record of it has been located, this document itself provides proof that the story was published. The manuscript offers detailed insight into the entire process of literary production: from composition, through collaborative revision, to the publisher, to the printer, to the typesetters.
We have here a first or interim draft, over-written in the revising process and then sent to the publisher as the official fair-copy. The revisions seem to be in the same hand as the draft, suggesting that the brothers composed together in the same room, as one of them transcribed, and that the revision process took place likewise. Instructions to the typesetters, such as the squiggled underscore to signify italics, were added. The fact that this corrected copy was sent to the publisher, rather than a fair-copy, might indicate that it was written for the periodical press, where deadlines were much shorter and less flexible, a hypothesis supported by the absence of the story from any known bibliography of the brothers' work.

The manuscript was then sent to the publisher, where (among other things) it was processed to determine how much type & page space would be required; this affected editing decisions, graphic design, typesetting instructions, budget, and payment of the authors. This story was to be printed in sextodecimo (each large sheet of paper folded and cut to produce sixteen finished pages). Blue pencil was used to designate approximately where each block of text would fall in order to produce sixteen pages, using the bibliographic shorthand for "sextodecimo", "16 mo." (Also used in the bibliographic entries for this archive) and each # "mo" building up to it. This was presumably used to determine page counts for editing, page design, and payment to the authors (usually determined in contract for books but often by the column or the word in periodicals).
Next, the marked-up manuscript was sent to the printing house, who trimmed off all of the margins, cut it apart, and carefully re-pasted it together, presumably to fit the stand at typesetting station. (see rear view below.) The newly-assembled pages were then re-numbered and transported to the work-floor, where the typesetter (likely a child, who often served as typesetters due to their smaller fingers) used it to manually lay out the type, probably in conjunction with a separate document specifying the layout and design of the printed page (typeface, point-size, margins, leading, etc.). After printing, the manuscript was returned to the publisher, after which it was archived–whether in the publisher's files, the editor's personal archive, or perhaps by the Marguerittes themselves; we lose the path of the manuscript between that time and its appearance on the market.
This manuscript thus bears the marks of the entire process of literary production–beginning with the personalised, imaginative act of literary composition aiming to critique and oppose mechanistic industrialized culture, and ending with the document's integration into that self-same industrialized system in order to be distributed. In this light, it is ironic to note the personalised flourish of the signature at the foot of the last page–representative of the individuality and subjectivity of the authors–jutted up against the scrawled mark of the printer, destined for mechanical reproduction, oblivious to the text's content, context, or intentions.

Transcribing and translating will be a gradual process due to my limited time, plethora of simultaneous projects, and slowness with French. I welcome help, and would publish a translation as a chapbook; if you would like higher-resolution scans, contact me at  

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