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  

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Newly-Translated Articles on Romanticist-Bohemian Dance!

Here's are two little articles from Alphonse Karr's Jan. 1841 issue of the self-published Bohemian gossip & satire magazine 'Les Guêpes' (The Wasps) from the Revenant Archive, one about police persecution of "indecent" dances such as the early Cancan, and one on dance-club etiquette. (They appeared next to eachother in the issue). This links up directly with the lacture I gave at last year's AfterMAF about avant-garde Romanticist dance–note the discussion about Musard, the inventor of the Infernal Gallop, Broken-Chair-Gallop, etc.

The footnotes that contain French are passages I'm not quite sure about the translation of.
HERE are the original articles from a later reprint.


Random Stuff
by Gustave Karr

In The Favourite, presented at the Paris Opera, – there’s still a church, – there’s now one in every opera.[1] – which must naturally be diverted[2] into two kinds of people, – first the pious people, who don’t like that we allow actors such performances. And those who, not going to mass, neither want to discover it upon the boards, where they come looking for something else.

The former like nothing better than to go to mass, – the latter prefer the Musard Ball.

But, everything’s mixed up, everything’s confounded in a weird Tohu-bohu.[3] – If the Opera, on certain days, has the air of a church, – we have the church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette[4], which has the air of an auditorium or ballroom, and which we justifiably dub a Musard church.

It is, every Sunday, the meeting-place of a slew of dancers[5] and all the kept girls[6] of the neighbourhood. – What’s more we encounter there a throng of young guys, less punctilious than in yesteryear to the holy services.

That’s probably by virtue of the fact that this church isn’t terribly well-formed – why they position so many uniformed policemen there – probably to prevent indecent dances. – They announce a massive ball at Notre-Dame de Paris.

Regarding these indecent dances and policemen, militiamen[7], etc. – who are charged with cracking down, in the public establishments, – on the popular cauchucas[8] and exaggerated fandangos, – aren’t they capable of making some huge mistakes? – Recently, a man arrested by them for a like offense, called upon, before the sixth chamber, some embarrassing theories.

–We have, said he,

The gracious cancan, – the saint-simonian, – the half-cancan, – the cancan, – the cancan and a half, – and the cahut; – this last dance is is the only one prohibited. I was dancing the gracious cancan.

Wouldn’t it be timely to open, for the good of those gentlemen the police and militiamen, a special school of bizarre dances, – where they would learn to perfectly discern the specific characteristics of these dances they have too much of[9].

@  @ @

Out in the world, when a man has invited a woman to dance who can’t accept due to a previous offer, he goes on to another, and it seems to me to be an insult to both women. To the first, he would say thus: “I asked you by chance, without preference; I don’t dance with you; so it goes! I’ll dance with someone else.” – To the second: “I take you for lack of anyone better; if the one whom I invited first had been free, I’d never consider you; she’s prettier than you, more elegant, more spiritual than you.”

Some people, in order to avoid this, don’t dance when the woman whom they’ve chosen isn’t free; – but it can thus come about that they pass the night without dancing, some wish they would have.

Here’s how they do it in some of the towns in the Midi:[10] – each man, when coming in, plucks from a basket an artificial flower, – and, when he’s going to invite a woman to dance[11], – in the place of this seldom-varied formula:

“Would Madame like to do me the honour of dancing with me?” he offers her a flower, which she keeps in her waistband until she’s danced the promised contradance; – then, the contradance over, she returns the bouquet to him, which he’ll offer to another. – In this way, they don’t run the risk of inviting a woman already spoken for, – because each woman who doesn’t have a flower is free and waiting to dance.

from Les Gûepes, Janvier 1841, p. 66–68. 


[1] il y en a maintenant dans tous les opéras
[2] écarter
[3] An extremely rare word, that was likely current as Romanticist/Bohemian slang (note its resonance with other key argot in the article such as the cancan, etc.). It derives from Jewish theology, and denotes the primordial chaos prior to the Word–an idea relating to the theory of Romanticist frenzy, and likely to appeal to the hermetic, quasi-cabalistic elements of the movement.
[4] This new church had been built by the ruling Orleans monarchy five years previous, which gives the pun a subtle political jibe.
   However, Karr is making a pun with Romanticist argot; several months previously, his friend Nestor Roqueplan (a Romanticist humourist) had coined the slang term “Lorette” to signify a young, lower-class single woman supported as a mistress by a wealthy man. (The term grew in popularity and remained current throughout the century.)
   The new church was surrounded by cheaply-built new apartments (note Karr’s jab at the quality of construction) which, due to a slow-drying plaster that caused respiratory problems, became inhabited by many poor working women, many of whom were susceptible to the advances of wealthier young men: hence the slang term deriving from the neighbourhood. (see Michael Marrinan, Romantic Paris: Histories of a Cultural Landscape, 1800–1850, p. 294. Marrinan traces this as the origin of the term, but not to Roqueplan personally.
   Lorettes would often have met their suitors at dance-halls and balls. The source of the term is recorded in the 1888 Dictionary of Parisian slang, which was compiled and published by collaborators of Alphonse Allais, in whose work Karr’s influence is clear.
[5] danseuses, female dancers
[6] i.e., “lorettes” according to the newly-coined slang term.
[7] gardes municipaux
[8] look up in 1829 dictionary & argot dictionary
[9] ces danses qui en ont trop.
[10] The southern coastal regions of France.
[11] va engager une femme à danser

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.)


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