Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Fascinating New Addition: 1846 Abolitionist slave narrative, personalized with children's drawing and writing!

Lewis & Milton Clarke, Narratives of the Sufferings of Lewis & Milton Clarke, Sons of a Soldier of the Revolution, Among the Slaveholders of Kentucky, One of the So Called Christian States of America; dictated by themselves. 1846. Bela Marsh: Boston.

The publication of slave narratives, either written by ex-slaves when fully literate or transcribed and paraphrased for them, were among the most popular and effective vehicles for the abolitionist movement, and played an important role in the development of American literature as well. This book contains the stories of two light-skinned brothers (made even lighter in the book's portraits) enslaved on a Kentucky plantation, both meeting again years later having escaped separately and followed the underground railroad through Oberlin, Ohio (which remains a bastion of progressive thought and activism in the Midwest to this day). Both of the brothers later toured the country extensively, giving talks at abolitionist societies and public meetings.
This tome was intensely personalized by the Dow family who originally owned it, and shows how integrally abolitionist literature was incorporated into the family lives of those who were heavily committed to it. The Dow family worked a small farm in Caledonia County near South Walden, Vermont, and represent the rank-and-file of the abolitionist movement – not intellectuals, but part-time activists who made progressive causes a part of their daily lives through reading and, presumably, more material means of support. The book's dense topography of inscriptions, drawings, and educational exercises show how it was passed around among several generations of the family in the curse of their routine lives.

The genealogy is unclear. The oldest member of the household was probably James S. Durant, who must have been born before or around 1800. His daughter Sophia Durant Dow had at least one son, Roswell. Jeremiah W. Dow may have been her husband (Roswell's father), or may have been her step-father (in which case, her husband's identity, if living, remains a mystery). Another member of the household, David Durant Dow, was (depending on the identity of Jeremiah) either Sophia's son or her brother.

The child, Roswell, has left the greatest mark on this book – literally. The book's initial inscription lists all of the above family members in a flowing, confident hand, while most of the copies many remaining marks are clearly made by one or more children – including Roswell at the least – over several years as they grew and matured. 

At least one child (probably Roswell) used flyleaves as a scratchpad for penmanship and mathematics. The names of the family – especially of Roswell himself – and the names of the town and county (South Walden, Caledonia County) are repeated many times, almost obsessively, as they attempted to master the flowing penmanship required in the 19th Century, along with simple marks simply practicing the pressure and angle of the pen in making lines and flourishes. There are also several mathematical problems, which are likely but not necessarily schoolwork.
Some of the markings are more closely related to the text; a passage from the end of the book about the hypocrisy of slaveholders is lightly copied out in pencil. Finally, a child has drawn a couple wearing clothing of the late 1840s or early 1850s – possibly characters from the book, or possibly members of Roswell's family.

The family's story was tragic. In September of the year this book was published, Sophia was committed, for unknown causes, to the Vermont Asylum for the Insane, where she would remain the rest of her life. Two other Dows, who were probably related to her, were interred there around the same time: James G. Dow and Hannah Dow from Walden. Her child Roswell has inscribed the name of South Walden several times in the book, implying that he spent at least part of his time living with that branch of the family.

The family took abolition seriously, and later Roswell put his life on the line for that cause, enlisting in the 2nd Sharpshooter Regiment to fight in the American Civil War. He survived the war, but his release from the army coincided with his own unspecified struggles with mental illness, and in late 1866, he was committed to the same hospital as his mother and other relatives, though in different compounds, where they must rarely if ever have seen each other. Sophia died in the asylum four years later in 1872; Roswell was still there in 1910, listed as an indigent ward of the state.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

New Addition: Charivari on the "Hugophiles"

Le Charivari (The Hullabaloo). March 7, Year 11, No. 66 (Monday, March 7, 1842) Paris. Paperback Quarto, 4 pp.

Despite its early association with Romanticism and continued publication of Romanticist cartoonists, the satirical journal Charivari had established a position outside the Romanticist-Classicist debate by the 1840s, and was in a position to skewer both sides. By 1842, Classicism was experiencing a resurgence as Romanticism, now infiltrating every aspect of French culture, was beginning to split into several divergent subcultures and cultural tendencies, many adherents to which felt little connection with the movement in its current, mainstream form. While young people in the Romanticist orbit did not remember the movement in its underground, revolutionary stage but simply as the backdrop of further innovation, young Classicists were now able to see themselves as rebels against Romanticist hegemony. 
In 1842, a renewed Classicist campaign was launched, ultimately aiming to bring down the impending premier in 1843 of Hugo's new Romanticist play The Burgraves. This issue of Charivari contains a quirky relic of this critical campaign, which resulted in a Classicist riot at the premier, and the end of organised Romanticism in France. It addresses the critical debate swirling around Victor Hugo's Romantic travel guide of The Rhine, between the "Hugophiles" (Romanticists) and "Hugophobes" (Classicists), though generally sympathetic to Hugo. At issue is an argument about a side-comment there in which Hugo suggests the orthography Asculum for a (possibly apocryphal) Roman town briefly mentioned in Horace, OEquotuticum, which Hugo argues cannot be scanned within a French alexandrine line of verse. The Classicist press, it seems, was outraged, asserting that one must retain the Latin at all costs; as more publications joined the fray, this spiraled into a heated battle about poetic scansion. The article pokes fun at both sides in the debate, but unequivocally blames the Classicists for stirring it up, hearkening back to, "the beautiful evening on which the two enemy camps [the Romantics and Classicists] had at it not only with the mouth, but even with hair in the stalls of the Théâtre-Français, over the first performance of Hernani."

The featured cartoon in this issue caricatures a group of dandies (or "lions" in Parisian slang) at the opera, peering about the audience with opera-glasses from their private box. It is labelled "The Lions' Pit" (a double-pun, since the cheapest seats, below them, were known as "the pit"). One dandy exclaims, "Naught shall have talent, save us and our friends," to which his companion/s respond in English: "Yes!" Dandy subculture was strongly anglophilic, owing in part to the movement's British roots.


Sunday, 22 October 2017

New Expansion to the 'Guêpes' Collection: 1871 post-Paris Commune reboot!

The Revenant Archive maintains a growing collection of Gustave Karr's rare, self-published avant-garde satirical magazine Les Guêpes (The Wasps), a milestone series in the history of avant-garde and DIY publishing, and an important potential resource for researchers of the counter-cultural milieu of the time.

After the convulsions of the Paris Commune (whose stated goals Karr seems to have generally supported, with some reservations) and the fall of Napoleon III's regime, the sixty-year-old Karr was able to write relatively free of censorship for the first time in his life. In response, he re-launched Les Guêpes, unfettered for the first time, and probably closer in many ways to his ideal conception of the journal when he had first begun in more than 30 years earlier. While the magazine had always pushed the boundaries of political expression, even for a small-run self-published journal, the political content in this new incarnation is much more predominant and specific, reflecting both his greater sense of freedom and the fact that he now lived in Nice, far removed from the Parisian Bohemian community whose chronicles had supplied so much of the first incarnation's material.

It is thus particularly interesting to peruse these issues, the first of which he must have started writing soon after his 1871 letter included in the archive, for a glimpse of the immediate post-commune period. As usual, Karr's satire and criticism cuts in every direction, refusing any doctrinaire position on the event or its fallout. While censorship had been officially abolished for the first time in France's history, it should be remembered that this lifting of censorship came fast on the heels of around ten-thousand summary executions of communards and around an equal number imprisoned or deported by the new government, and an untold number of participants in permanent exile. Out-and-out support of the Communard cause, then, remained potentially dangerous should the political winds change direction slightly. Nonetheless, Karr evinces considerably more sympathy with the Communards than the large majority of intellectuals at the time, even on the Left. He supports clemency for Communards, a position for which Victor Hugo's home had been attacked by a mob, even in neighbouring Belgium, affirms many of their concerns and criticizes the Liberal capitalist Republic for its shortcomings (as his 1871 letter would imply), and indicates that he had indeed fought at the barricades against the Imperial government in Nice.

Although the underground status that Les Guêpes had acquired since its initial series expanded Karr's potential readership and distribution network (this new series was published and sold jointly in both Nice and Paris), it remained as close to a DIY endeavour as the technology of the day allowed. Since binding remained prohibitively expensive, each number was issued in the form of a set of unbound signatures lain into the paper wrap. This set includes an extra Supplement signature in each issue, probably indicating that the original owner was a subscriber; they cut and read every page except the several pages of adverts at the end of each supplement–every single one of which remains uncut.

Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 1, Oct. 15, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr.  Wrap: Second Edition, interior First; w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 44 pp.

Although the outside wrap of this issue is from the 2nd Edition, the interior pages give no edition number and match the rest of the first-edition set with which it was purchased; most likely, the initial wrap was damaged early in this copy's life and a wrap from the 2nd edition supplied by the publisher.


Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 2, Oct. 22, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.


Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 3, Oct. 29, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.


Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 4, Nov. 5, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.

Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 5, Nov. 12, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.


Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 7, Nov. 26, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.



Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 8, Dec. 3, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.


Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. No. 10, Dec. 17, 1871. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.


Les Guêpes: Revue politique, philosophique et littéraire. IInd Volume: Booklet No. 13, Jan. 7, 1872. Ed. & written by Alphonse Karr. First Edition, w/supplement. Librairie Nouvelle: Paris / A. Gilletta: Nice. Two unbound duodecimo signatures in paper wrap, 48 pp.


Monday, 16 October 2017

Exciting Addition: Three Volumes of the Annales Romantiques!

Due to a quite astounding and fortuitous discovery of a batch of under-priced (around 60% of their value on the bourgeois bibliographic market) books, a few months ago the Revenant Archive became considerably nearer to the long-time goal of assembling a complete set of the seminal anthology series, the Annals Romantiques. All three of the new additions are quite rare and in very good condition, all originally owned and bound by the same unidentified owner.
One of the most influential anthologies of the first-generation avant-garde, the Annales Romantiques were yearly compendia of work by the Romanticist underground, published from 1823–1838 and sporadically thereafter, and thus covered nearly the whole period of the concentrated Romanticist assault on culture. It provides the most textured and complete window into the Parisian Romanticist community of the time, when that community was still in the process of defining itself; for rather than focusing like retrospective anthologies on the few most canonized representatives of the movement, the Annales printed work by between 60 and 80 Romanticist writers each year, and provide a comprehensive glimpse of the entire community, including avant-gardists who never published complete books and represented only here and in various journals that have lain nearly unread since 1835.


Annales Romantiques: Recueil de morceaux choisis de litterature contemporaine. (Romanticist Annals: Anthology of Choice Morsels of Contemporary Literature) Ed. Charles Malo. (1830) Sole Edition. Louis Janet: Paris. Hardbound 32mo, 367 pp.

The 1830 volume collects work by 71 Romanticist writers submitted in the summer of 1829, and thus presents French Romanticism on the eve of the Battle of Hernani and the radicalization of the movement. The community's increasing self-assertion is manifested in various ways including Cyprian Desmarais' essay on the 'Character of Civilisation and Literature Since 1814'. The communal nature of the emerging avant-garde is subtly signaled by 'Bertrand of Dijon', aka Aloysius Bertrand (aka Louis Bertrand), in his prose poem 'Ma Chamière' ('My Cottage'), when after mentioning the king he adds in a footnote to the poem that, "The king will never read this piece; but my friends shall read it, and will know that I also dream in total wakefulness . . ." The most recent Romanticist icon, Joseph Delorme (Charles Saint-Beuve), appears with his own contribution and a dedication by Émile Deschamps. Rumblings of the revolution that would erupt within months of the book's publication appear, such as 'Liberty' by Nestor de Lamarque, together with the imperialist, ultra-Nationalist monarchist ode (awarded by the Royal Academy) by Anne Bignan, who was something of a laughingstock in intellectual circles for his slavishness for official honours. His militarist poem, which feels icily fascist, is an odd fit yet is the first piece in the whole volume, and may have been included as a 'balance' to the liberal material in a compromise with government censors, who were in the midst of a clamp-down as the anthology was being assembled.

The Orientalist thrust of the Annales volumes from the 1820s is continued here, in the form of poems on middle-eastern themes but also in a collection of traditional Arab maoual songs, preceded by a scholarly essay on Arab literature, with a footnote by Malo that this excerpt from a forthcoming volume was being printed here in advance for the advantage of "young orientalists" engaged in poetic research. Though Frenetic Romanticism remains just beyond the horizon, there are bubblings of the germanophilic gothic-fantastic Romanticism exemplified by Hoffman and Göethe (the subject of Paul Foucher's contribution), such as Dumas' 'The Sylph', Delavigne's 'The Bandit's Death', and Victor Pavie's treatment of the Wandering Jew legend, a staple of Gothic subculture.

Though books at the time were sold unbound, to then be taken to a binder, as literacy outpaced economic prosperity many people – especially students and young intellectuals in the Paris underground – could not regularly afford binding, leading to the development of paperbacks. Romanticist publishers such as Janet and Ladvocat began issuing some copies in lavishly designed paper wrappers. Though the owner of this volume did bind their copies quite nicely, they also preserved the wrappers at front and back and by preserving the spine of the paper wrapper at the rear of the textblock.


Annales Romantiques: Recueil de morceaux choisis de litterature contemporaine. (Romanticist Annals: Anthology of Choice Morsels of Contemporary Literature) Ed. Charles Malo. (1831) Sole Edition. Louis Janet: Paris. Hardbound 32mo, 368 pp.

With its deadline six months after the Romanticist watershed of Hernani and only weeks after the July Revolution, the work in this volume from 81 Romanticist writers represents the movement at the most confident and optimistic moment in its development. One outlet of this optimism was in the array of quasi-heretical liberal and socialist Christian movements that intersected with Romanticism, particularly the one led by the rapidly radicalizing Lammenais, who would be cast out of the Church within a couple years. The deadline was so close to the July Revolution that this volume essentially still wears the shackles of government censorship, and it is not until the next year that the celebrations of the revolution appear. Non-persecutable hints do appear here, such as "The Poet Prisonner by the obscure Norman poet Alphonse Le Flaguais

The Saint-Simonian Romanticist Léon Halévy contributes extracts of a translation of Macbeth, signalling Shakespeare's preeminent position in the Romantic dramatic canon. The Orientalist strain of the anthologies continues unabated with "The Banquet of Esther", written by the anthology's editor Charles Malo (which owes a good deal to Bechford's gothic Orientalist novel Vathek); "The Palace of Nagasaki" by by Denne-Baron. Medievalism also makes a strong showing, with pieces such as the arch-Medievalist Bibliophile Jacob's "Potency"; Charles Dovalle's "The Fairy of the Lake"; Himly's "The School of the Magician"; and Brès' avant-Mystery play "The Man Who Went to See the Devil".
The avant-garde shows its head in the Annales for the first time in this year; frenetic Romanticism again makes its presence felt in pieces such as Nestor de Lamarque's "Despair" and Adolphe Mathieu's "The Execution"; "The Vision" by the poet-archaeologist Boucher de Perthes; "A Night Scene in a Moastery" by the Baron Talairat, later elected mayor of Brioud, France; Henri de Latouche's poem on "The Last Day of Salvatore Rosa", the prototypical visual artist of Frenetic Romanticism (ironically, given Latouche's animosity toward the arch-frenetic Jeunes-France group); Auguste Desportes' frenetic 'imitation' (loose translation-as-rewriting) of a Hebrew song on "The Destruction of Sennacharib"; a Anglemont's morbid ballad "The Orphans"; Théodore Carlier's sonnet epigraphed by Byron; and the translation of Bürger's "Lenore," an iconic poem of French freneticism. The latter and/or the passage by Goëthe were likely translated (anonymously) by Gérard (later Nerval) of the Jeunes-France, who contributes an oddly-constructed lyric on "Disease" under his own name. Throughout the volume we see the proliferation of intertextuality that permeated the Romanticist avant-garde, in the form of many more epigraphs, dedications, and other intracommunal references than had appeared in the previous year. 

As usual in this series, the engravings are quaint, mainstream English prints in a compromise with the market (bourgeois households would buy them for the engravings, regardless of the often challenging literary content, which they simply ignored); however, this volume does contain one engraving reproducing a painting by Turner. As in the other two copies bound by this book's first owner, the wrappers have been preserved at front and back, with the spine of the original paper wrapper at the rear of the textblock.


Annales Romantiques: Recueil de morceaux choisis de litterature contemporaine. (Romanticist Annals: Anthology of Choice Morsels of Contemporary Literature) Ed. Charles Malo. (1835) Sole Edition. Louis Janet: Paris. Hardbound 32mo, 295 pp.
This volume collects work by 47 Romanticist writers. The anthology's editor, Charles Malo, contributes a weirdly experimental frenetic poem called "Nightmare!" that explores the theme of parricide in verses rhythmically and syntactically fractured by dozens of elipses and dashes, and dozens more semicolons and exclamation marks. The frenetic tendency dominates this year's anthology, with works such as Carlier's "Book of Death", Peyronnet's ode to "Misfortune", Anaïs Ségelas' meditation on "A Death's-Head", Gautier's long poem "Malancholia", and the macabre tale "The Cavern of the Cadavers," under the pseudonym Achille Jubinal. Liberal Nationalism – with both its progressive and its reactionary/Eurocentric problematics – is on the rise; Émile Deschamps contributes an ode to the liberal nationalist movement "Young Germany" and the socialist Alphonse Esquiros to the Greek rebellion against the Ottoman Empire, in which Byron had died. Gérard de Nerval is represented by a series of lyric "Odelettes", Emile Saladin by a short story (his only non-Orientalist piece in the entire series), and Auguste Bouzenot furnishes an essay on Hindu mythology.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

'Autographe' journal of literary history & archiving

L'Autographe.ed. G. Bourdin. No.1, Saturday Dec. 5, 1863. Softcover Folio, 8 pp.

L'Autographe was a large-format journal catering to historians and archivists of 19th century (primarily French cultural) history, and an influence for this archive's associated journal, Rêvenance. It reproduced an eclectic array of handwritten notes, drawings, and other documents. The items in this issue of particular interest for the Revenant Archive include a notes by the avant-garde composer Hector Berlioz (see his Grotesques of Music in the Archive), the revolutionary activist Garibaldi, the Romanticist writers Alfred de Musset, Jules Sandeau (George Sand's estranged husband) and Jules Janin (enemy of frenetic ultra-Romanticism), the moderate Romanticist Léon Gozlan (probable coiner of the term "bousingo" in his satirical attacks on Radical Romanticism), plus a drawing by the liberal cartoonist Cham, a number of whose satires of Anarchism are included in the archive.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Exciting New Addition: Original drawing by Louis Boulanger

Louis Boulanger, Untitled drawing of an unidentified woman. (c. 1827–1867.) Pencil and conte on paper, 11" x 16".

Though he has since been written out of art history, from the late 1820s to the mid-1830s Louis Boulanger was one of the most influential and progressive visual artists in France, usually grouped with Eugène Devéria and Eugène Delacroix as the three leaders of the Romanticist revolution in the plastic arts. His large-scale history paintings, particularly his violent and colourful 1827 Torture of Mazeppa, did much to establish the visual tropes that would come to define mainstream French Romanticist painting, while his weird, dark prints of demons, ghouls and murderers made him one of the leading exponents of underground Frenetic Romanticism. Like many artists of the first-generation avant-garde, he was taught by Achille Déveria (Eugène's older brother), and helped to determine the form of avant-garde art as a co-founder of the Petit-Cénacle group, later renamed the Jeunes-France and the Bouzingo.

This original portrait is undated, and its subject unidentified. As most of the original sketches in the Revenant Archive show, female relatives and friends were frequent subjects for drawings not destined for sale, probably in part as a reflection to the hegemony of the male gaze at the time, but also because they were often sketching or drawing at home while socializing, and hence drew whomever was present. This example is pretty finely rendered, and evinces a particularly sensitive attention to rendering and line, including highlights in white conte. The drawing has markings of previous archivists – a catalog No. 30 in the top left corner, and a hardened glob of mounting wax in the top right.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Berlioz, Grotesques de la Musique

Hector Berlioz, Les Grotesques de la musique (The Grotesques of Music). Undated (1871). 2nd Ed? Calmann-Lévy: Paris. Hardcover, Rebound with original spine and boards incorporated. Sextodecimo, 311 pp.

Hector Berlioz was among the most fervent, militant and radical Romanticist musicians, and one of the principal representatives of its avant-garde Frenetic subcurrent, through his wildly experimental, narratively-driven gothic pieces such as the Fantastic Symphony and Faust (based on the Bouzingo poet Nerval's translation of Goethe's text). He was also a gifted and lively writer, whose criticism and satire contributed substantially to the development not only of Romanticist musical theory but also to Romanticist satire. His prose-style – with its colourful but sardonic tone, jarring combination of informal flippancy with complex syntax, rare and archaic words, neologisms, mania for obscure, off-hand intellectual references, and an elliptical, disconnected discourse often marked off or disrupted by ironic subtitles, strings of punctuation, and interjections – connect his writing strongly to that of the Jeunes-France group and the Romanticist avant-garde generally. The word 'Grotesque' is a key term in French Romanticist theory (particularly important to the avant-garde elements of the movement), denoting that in literature which is unique, surprising, exceptional rather than typical, which flaunts convention and accepted norms, combining humour, horror, idealism and cynicism.

This work in particular is explicitly inspired by the Jeunes-France co-founder Théophile Gautier's seminal 1834-35 work of avant-garde historiography, The Grotesques. (see the Historiography tab for this archive's later edition) In it, Gautier had sought out obscure or vilified writers and artists proscribed by the Classicist establishment, often out of print for nearly two centuries, and from them identified and brought together a subversive tradition upon which to build a subversive, pre-Romanticist arsenal of literary techniques. In this book, Berlioz extends Gautier's search for the grotesque into the realm of music, though in a less focused and more wide-ranging way that brings to light all kinds of obscure musical figures, practices, new instruments (including the saxophone and other, less durable innovations), and oddities both of the past and his own day. It is interspersed with scraps of libretti and popular songs and snippets of staff music.

This (probably second) edition includes a letter of protest from the professional singers of Paris, who are mercilessly skewered throughout the book, then Berlioz's drippingly sarcastic "apology". The copy was thoroughly read by an early reader (presumably its first), after which its binding subsequently damaged or decayed, and it was nicely rebound in the twentieth century with its original boards intact and much of the spine re-incorporated.

Though this work has not been translated (look for translations of some of the articles in future editions of Rêvenance, etc.), Jacques Barzun's translation of his somewhat similar, though less heterogeneous, Evenings With the Orchestra offers a look at Berlioz's fun, lively style.

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