Wednesday, 19 April 2017

New Addition: Chronology of French Romanticism, 1804–1830

René Bray, Chronologie du Romantisme (1804–1830). 1963. Librairie Nizet: Paris. Softcover Octavo, uncut at purchase.

In this useful, detailed, blow-by-blow history of French Romanticism from its first glimmerings up to the Battle of Hernani, Bray corrects the too-often anecdotal and discontinuous historiography of the movement.

Monday, 17 April 2017

New Addition: Earliest Book in the Collection: The Tatler--18th Century Coffee-House newsletter!

I'm very behind in cataloguing and annotating recent additions to the archive; I've got about 15 on deck. This is partly due to my chronic constraint on time, and partly because some are particularly exciting and require in-depth research and explication to reveal. But
HERE is a recent addition which is now the earliest item in the Revenant archive, printed in 1728:

Isaac Bickerstaff [Richard Steele, Joseph Addison & Jonathan Swift], The Lucubrations of Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq., Revised and Corrected by the Author.  1728. E. & R. Nutt, J. Knapton, J. & B. Sprint, D. Midwinter, J. Tonson, R. Gosling, W. & J. Innys, J. Osborn & T. Longman, R. Robinson, and B. Motte: London. Full Leather Sextodecimo, 352 pp. (Bound Collection of The Tatler, Vol. III, No. 115–189, Tues. Jan. 3, 1709–Sat. June 24, 1710.) Inscribed in Pencil in 18th/ early19th Century hand: Mr. Thos. Kil?????? / Ho??????? / Y????? & six illegible lines plus a title on following recto page. Some light dog-earring by previous reader/s.

The most vibrant intellectual life of Eighteenth-Century Britain was played out less in the academies than in the dozens of small periodical journals and occasional pamphlets that established the forms that were later taken up by micropress and zine publishers. It was supported by the readership and participation of the patrons of a dense network of coffeehouses that served as public forums of the emerging political, cultural, and scientific ideas of their day.

The satirical little magazine The Tatler, edited and primarily written by Richard Steele, offered a weekly run-down of the London coffeehouse scene, via an eclectic mix of poetic parodies, gossip columns, transcriptions of debates and orations, reports of current topics of scientific, cultural, or political interest, and many hybrid forms. Articles were written from the perspective of the fictional editor "Isaac Bickerstaff" (the distant ancestor of later satirical "journalists" including Punch (of the British magazine) and Alfred E. Neuman (Mad Magazine). Each week, the magazine was written at a different Coffeehouse, whose name was noted on the masthead; it was rumoured that the Tatler's secret correspondents included Jonathan Swift and Joseph Addison. Its combination of social chronicle, intellectual stimulation, and gossip provided a framework later taken up by other small-run journals such as Gustave Karr's Les Guêpes (collected in this archive), Le Chat Noir (also collected here), Maintenant, Littérature, Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, and eventually Zine culture.
The importance of The Tatler was quickly recognised, and edited collections reprinted. This is an early reprint, produced in 1728. The magazine's low-budget, small-press roots are reflected by the consortium of eleven publishers or patrons contributing to print this volume. This copy was well-used by its first owner/s, but unfortunately the very light, fading pencil and indecipherable (to me) hand of the inscriptions make it difficult to learn more. The fly-leaf contains an inscription of several lines, topped by what seems to be a title, but I am unable to guess at more than one or two words. (I welcome readings or hypotheses concerning the inscriptions shown.)


Tuesday, 11 April 2017

New Addition: Hélène en fleur et Charlemagne, signed by Paul Fort!

Paul Fort, Ballades Françaises: Hélène en fleur et Charlemagne. 2nd Ed. (1921) Mercure de France: Paris. Softcover, 281 pp. Inscribed by Fort, "à mon cher / Alfred Vallette / affecteusement / Paul Fort" ("To my dear / Alfred Vallette / affectionately / Paul Fort")

This inscribed copy links two writers important to the history of Symbolism and Pataphysics. The dandyist writer Paul Fort was a key figure in the French avant-garde for over fifty years, and served as an important link between the Symbolist generation and that of the young Cubist and proto-Dada writers. For instance, he regularly played billiards with Apollinaire and Jarry, and in fact the commotion of a bar fight started by Jarry and involving a pistol with a blank cartridge had precipitated Fort's wife into early labour. At only 17 years old, Fort had founded the first independent Symbolist theatre company, known as the Théâtre d'Art. He left the group two years later, when it became the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre and went on to produce Jarry's Ubu Roi. He later edited the Symbolist journal Vers et Prose, and publish many volumes of verse. His daughter was married to the Futurist painter Gino Severini.

The publisher Alfred Vallette was the editor of the Mercure de France, which began as a small avant-garde Symbolist journal and grew into one of the most important cultural reviews in France. (The Revenant Archive owns a copy of the journal, see "Periodicals" tab.) His wife, Rachilde, was a notorious Decadent novelist--rebellious in her day but later reactionary ultra-Nationalist; four years after her husband received this copy from Fort, she was the target of an intervention by Surrealist group at an avant-garde banquet for the Symbolist Saint-Pol-Roux, a mutual friend, which ended in a food fight and police raid. In the 1890s however, the couple had been roommates with Alfred Jarry and Pierre Quillard at the home they called 'The Phalanstry' in homage to the Utopian Socialist Charles Fourier. 
Since Vallette, as the publisher of Fort's book, had ample access to copies of it, this inscribed copy is purely a gesture to reinforce and re-inscribe the dense network of relationships between them as writers, publishers, organisers, and friends. The connections ranged far and wide indeed–Vallette and Rachilde's daughter was even married to Fort's nephew.

Friday, 3 March 2017

New Addition: Gautier's 'Grotesques'

Théophile Gautier, Les Grotesques. 1861. Second Edition. Michel Lévy Frères: Paris. with ex-libris of Lucien Puteaux.

One of the foundational projects for the nascent avant-garde was historiographic: to identify and delineate a cultural tradition counter to the official histories and canons of French literature espoused by the Academy. In their place, the French Romanticists sought out obscure or villified 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 their own sense of collective purpose and their own arsenal of literary, artistic, and intellectual perspectives and techniques. One of the most influential projects on the avant-garde of Romanticism was a series of critical biographies of hitherto forgotten experimental writers of the Middle Ages and Renaissance published in serial by the young co-founder of the Jeunes-France group, Théophile Gautier, who went on to become arguably the most influential figure in the 19th Century avant-garde.

The articles were written and first published in 1834–35, soon after the dissolution of the Jeunes-France/Bouzingo and the formation of the Bohême-Doyenné group, centred in Gautier's own flat. The collection was published in 1843; the title 'Grotesque' is a key term in French Romanticist theory, 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 mostly-disbound copy of the Second Edition belonged to Lucien Puteaux, a writer of erotic historical fiction under the pseudonym Victor Perceval with close connections to the avant-garde community, including Realist circles and Gautier's friend Alexandre Dumas. The Revenant Archive also contains another book owned by Puteaux, Le Déesse Raison by Gautier's old comrade Alphonse Brot, another Bouzingo-cofounder and first self-declared member of the "avant-garde" (see above).

Friday, 10 February 2017

New Addition: Radical Theology Anthology

The Bible of Nature, and Substance of Virtue: Condensed From the Scriptures of Eminent Cosmians, Pantheists, and Physiphilanthropists, of Various Ages and Climes. 1849. 2nd Revised Ed. G. Vale: New York. Inscribed "Lydia Moon to Henry [M??????]", and Maurice McClue / Angola, Indiana".

This interesting volume, published 15 years before Darwin's research, is assembled around the rejection of creationism and/or a personified deity; the frontispiece, in the style of an alchemical emblem, portrays a King and a Pope threatening the seven-breasted female figure of Nature, while man in a turban (likely representing Philosophy) lays at her feet a scroll with the words, "Revelation of Nature / Reason Humanity Justice." The caption reads:
NATURE nursing in vain her warring children, benighted by the artifices of Priestcraft and Politics; Philosophy consumes their screen in order to display the universality of transmutations:
For the Self and Nature link'd in one great frame,
Shows true Self-love and Nature's as the same.
Eternal matter to one centre brings
Men changed to beasts, and insects changed to kings.
Who dares with force on nature's chain to strike,
On man or insects, jars the chain alike
On Self, which changing never quits the chain
In life or death, transmits or joy or pain.
The book does not propose any particular doctrine, but rather compiles texts from a wide range of theologians, philosophers, pantheists, heretics,  agnostics, theosophists, mystics, prophets, satirists, and proponents of both established and obscure sects. Those quoted include Pythagoras, Cicero, Montaigne, Epictetus, Thomas More, Erasmus, Milton, Locke, Hobbes, Jonathan Swift, Spinoza, Rousseau, Erasmus Darwin (Charles' grandfather, himself the author of a late eighteenth-century version of evolution), Pope, the feminist-anarchist couple Mary Wollstonecraft & William Godwin, their son-in-law Percy Shelley, Thomas Paine, Jefferson, the utopian socialist Robert Owen, Byron, and many others–including even passages from Ecclesiastes and Christ himself. The collection does put particular emphasis on the syncretic ideas of the Hindu-inspired illuminist John Stewart, of whom the editor appears to have been a disciple or admirer.

This particular copy provides evidence of the ways in which the confluence of an array of systems and theories, including those that were quite obscure (for instance, the Physiphilanthropists, mentioned in the book's title, have not left enough evidence to come up once in a google search), affected and intersected with more sweeping cultural movements. Its first owners were probably most interested in the book's theological aspect, while a later owner responded to its theme of nature and mankind in reciprocal relationship.

It was first owned by Lydia Moon, whose family became one of the very first British converts to Mormonism. Born in Lancashire, England in 1811, she emigrated with her family to America in 1840 to join Joseph Smith and married in Indiana. (Since her father, husband, and the presiding priest all share the surname Moon, her groom was presumably a cousin at some remove.) The year after this book was published, she moved to Salt Lake City with her husband Henry Moon, who also inscribed this copy and later became a member of Brigham Young's inner circle, was named a Bishop in the Church of Latter-Day Saints, and married two additional wives.
It appears that the Moons passed the book along to a friend (whose name is illegible in the faded pencil) when they moved to Utah, and it eventually ended up in the hands of the early environmentalist Maurice McClue (1878-1957). A lawyer by trade, McClue devoted much of his life to exploring, recording and studying the local ecosystem around Steuben County, Indiana, and was an early proponent of conservation in the region. Both his newspaper articles and large amounts of his unpublished research, memoirs, and other writings have recently begun being edited and published to shed light on local history and culture, as well as ecology. His own local pride is evident in his inscription, "Maurice McClue / Angola, Indiana."

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

New Addition: 'Frontiers of Poetry' 1927 French Avant-Garde anthology

La Frontières de la poésie. Chroniques No. 3, 1927. ed. Jacques Maritan. Le Roseau d'or Ouvres et Chroniques, Plon: Paris. Softcover Octavo, 378 pp.

This anthology offers a glimpse into a period of great flux within the avant-garde, as Surrealism was rapidly growing in influence and affiliation, but had not yet completed their near-hegemony over the French avant-garde. This volume includes many of the prominent underground writers not yet associated with Surrealism, including a number of ex-Dadas and Cubists. The editor, Maritan, contributed a sizeable text examining the avant-garde in light of Christian theology and mysticism, which is enough alone to explain the absence of anybody associated with Surrealism. Nonetheless it contains work by many avant-garde writers including Jacques Rivière (the famous correspondent with Artaud), Pierre Reverdy, Cocteau, T.S. Eliot (in translation), Max Jacob, Georges Hugnet, Jacques Reynaud, and others.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

New Addition: Letter by Romanticist organiser, editor & writer Casimir Cordellier-Delanoue

Casimir Cordellier-Delanoue, Letter to unidentified theatre director. Undated, c. 1840s.

Cordellier-Delanoue played a central role in the self-conscious radicalization of Romanticist youth subculture into the foundation of the avant-garde. Heavily involved in the campaign of community organising and propaganda that led up to the 'Battle of Hernani,' he recognised the necessity of continuing the communal velocity created by that event, using it as a catalyst to press the Romanticist revolution to new extremes and continued cultural struggle.
To do so, he scraped together contributions from among the "Romanticist Army" attending every performance and launched a little magazine called Le Tribune romantique, or Romanticist Platform. In it, he and his collaborators, including Gérard de Nerval, Alexandre Dumas, Ernest Fuinet, Victor Pavie, Paul Foucher, and Félix Roselly articulated and promoted an aggressively militant Romanticism, linked to progressive politics, in the form of manifestos, critical articles on Romanticist writers and actors, Romanticist theory and historiography, literary, theatrical and musical reviews (including one of Nodier's wildly experimental novel Histoire du Roi de Bohème, held by this archive), translations of German and English Romanticism, and announcements of forthcoming publications. Although the journal was short-lived and circulated among a small, intimate readership (no full set survives, and it is not even certain how many issues were published), it catalyzed and focused the communal energy unleashed by the ongoing Battle of Hernani, and thus played a foundational role in the development of the avant-garde. It helped to establish a rich tradition of avant-garde journals and zines with tiny runs but decisive long-term effects, including Les Guêpes, Pêre Ubu's Almanac, Le Revue Blanc, Maintenant, Cabaret Voltaire, Potlatch, Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts, Semina, SMILE, and The Lost and Found Times. He was involved in several other journals before and after, in addition to maintaining an output of plays, historical novels, literary and music criticism.

In this curt, undated note, the clearly agitated Cordellier Delanoue complains to a theatre director about the delay in staging a reading of one of his plays, the final step in the process of deciding whether to mount a production. The cavalier treatment of writers by the management of the theatre industry (in many ways parallel to today's Hollywood studios) is attested to in many 19th Century memoirs, including those of Arsène Houssaye, Théophile Gautier, and Alexandre Dumas.
His insistence paid off; at the bottom, in another hand (presumably that of the recipient) the incomplete date is scrawled: "reading monday 11 8". Neither the play in question nor the date has been determined. Cordellier-Delanoue had nine plays produced at various Parisian theatres between 1831 and 1855; he is known to have lived at this address at least between 1841 and 1847, but it is unknown how long before and after.

The following transcription & translation are tentative; I am attempting to decipher nearly 200-year old cursive in a language I am still learning, so I appreciate all corrections and better transcriptions!

Je n’ai pas [rXXXXXX[1]] à la Lecture pour laquelle je suis inscrit depuis si longtemps, et que plusieurs fois, sur mon sollicitations, vous avez bien voulu me promettre comme très prochaine. Soyez, je vous prie, assez bon, Monsieur, pour designer enfin le jour de cette Lecture, dont le [tour], (déja fixé [s???] M. [Vé??l?],) tarde bien à venir; - et veuillez [??r??er] l’assurance de ma [considération][2] ta [plus] [distinguée].
                Cordellier Delanoue
    [N’s’agis j’me p??n?]
        en 3 actes.
                    31 rue de chabral.
            Un Septembre

lecture lundi 11 8[he] {in another hand}

[1] I am tempted to read this contextually as a conjugation of “reçevoir,” but no such conjugation would explain the diacritical mark.
[2] This fits contextually; however, the word seems to me to terminate in a z, not an n; I have not a found a word that matches…


I did not renew? the Reading for which I signed up so long ago, and which several times, upon my request, you were willing to promise me very soon. Be, I beg you, good enough, Sir, to designate at long last the date of this Reading, of which the [tower/journey?], (already fixed XXXX? Mr. [Vé????],) cannot very well be slow to come;- and expect to [????] the assurance of my most distinguished [esteem] for you.
                    Cordellier Delanoue
    [Mustn’t I ????? myself?]
        in 3 acts.
                    31 rue de chabral.
            One September

reading monday 11 [8th?] {in another hand}

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