Ephemera

Relics of the way that avant-garde literature, art and music were used by their audiences, both within underground communities and (often posthumously or late in life) in popular culture.

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Anonymous, Fair-Copy Book. Date Unknown, late 19th or early 20th Century. 






 
Handwritten notebook containing fair-copies of letters relating to music and literature, and calligraphic fair copies of Romanticist, Parnassian, and Decadent poetry, using multiple hand-written "fonts" within single pieces of writing.

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Pierre-Jean de Béranger Medallion. Date Unknown, c. 1840-1850. Back plate of two-sided medallion in stamped metal, aureole with titles of popular songs.

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Promotional insert for Alphonse Brot & Saint-Véran, Le Déesse Raison. 1880. Double-sided Colour Printing on card, 7 x 5 cm. Petit Moniteur Universel, Paris.



Despite his avant-garde roots (and having written the earliest known text self-identifying with that term), Brot spent most of his life writing very popular melodramas and serial novels--which however retain elements of Frenetic Romanticism, including exaggerated violence and passion and themes of social and political justice. Both melodrama and serial novels operated in society in a way strangely analogous to our current mode of television and film: big budget melodramas focused on thrilling story-telling, familiar tropes, and spectacular special effects to produce blockbuster runs, while weekly installments of novels resembled internet television (dominated by a few major companies but with dozens of small ones also competing, with staggered releases but not a set broadcast schedule). Note that this little advert--probably included with the purchase of another book--is promoting the upcoming series, which will be published in 20 weekly episodes (in very cheap paperback editions, most now decayed) costing five cents each; after the series ends, fans will be able to purchase the full, bound novel on higher quality paper, the equivalent of a box set of DVDs today. That final, bound paperback edition is also in this archive (see "Literature")

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Achille Devéria, Les filles de Niobé. Date Unknown, c. 1860-1900. Mass-produced carte-de-visite of lithograph.

 
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Frank Harris, Prospectus for "My Life and Loves". Undated, 1921-22. Self-Published: Paris. Softcover Octavo Pamphlet, 4 pp.


An inveterate traveler, Frank Harris was a polymath of the cultural margins: libertine, sexologist, left-wing journalist, outspoken pacifist, novelist, artist, cowboy, and editor. His multi-volume autobiography My Life and Loves was banned from sale in the U.S. and many other countries due to its sexual explicitness. Full of bravado, Harris nonetheless advocates throughout the text against misogynist (as well as racist) approaches to sexuality, focusing on female pleasure. 
  
In the prospectus, Harris claims that the autobiography shall present his proposal for a new basis of human society uniting Paganism and Christianity and the rejection of the, "combative Anglo-Saxon and Germanic ideal which must result, as he believes in constant warfare and the ultimate mastery of one race and not perhaps the finest, though the strongest."
Harris was already suffered censorship for his agitation against American involvement in World War I, and in order to avoid it, the autobiography was planned from the start as a private run paid for ahead of time by direct subscription from individual readers, and printed in Weimar Berlin. This rare prospectus for the book emphasizes, rather than downplays, the book's scandalous nature, soliciting members of the intellectual libertine/erotica network. The Revenant Archive also contains a first-edition copy of the initial volume of the book, which this prospectus solicited the funds to print.
 
The entire text is readable in the scans above. 

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Tommaso Marinetti, Parole in libertà. Date Unknown, c. 1945-1970. Magic Lantern slide of 1919 visual poem.

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Poster of Auguste Maquet, by Cliché Dragon & Lemercier. c.1879. Photoglyptie print. Photopaper on double-sided newsprint w/ critical biography on Maquet verso. Paris-Portrait, Paris. 10" x 14.75"


Auguste Maquet wrote for much of his life under assumed names, but this artifact shows that he eventually achieved a certain degree of popular recognition for his work. As a co-founder of the Bouzingo group, he worked under the pseudonym Augustus Mac-Keat; he published only in journals or copied manuscripts during this period, and I'm not aware of any surviving work from the period unless he is behind the possible pseudonym 'Austuste Bouzenot' in the 1834 Annales Romantiques anthology, an avant-Romanticist essay on Hinduism. In the 1840s and '50s, he co-authored some of the most famous and enduring novels of the 19th Century, including The Three Musketeers, The Man in the Iron Mask, and The Count of Monte-Cristo; but his name was suppressed by publishers to maintain the 'Alexandre Dumas' brand-name--a practice extended to other Dumas collaborators in the avant-garde including Bibliophile Jacob and Léon Gozlan. In 1858 he sued and was legally recognised as a full collaborator on the novels, and went on to become a leader in copyright and writers'-union activism in France; nonetheless their novels continue to this day to be published exclusively under Dumas' name. (There is a movie about Dumas & Maquet, which I still need to watch, with trepidation.)

Alongside his collaborations with Dumas, Maquet not only published a number of novels under his own name (two of them in this archive) but was active as an important Romanticist historian, and co-authored the first systematic, multi-volume history of the French prison system--research that fed directly into his work on Monte Cristo and Iron Mask. (His and Pujol's History of the Dungeon of Vincennes is a part of this archive as well.) He also wrote a number of popular plays in the 1850s, and it was this that led to this poster, part of a series of posters of famous playwrights.

The photograph was mass-produced in 1879 using new, cheap photoglyptie technology, and affixed to a tableau on cheaper paper. On the back is an appreciative critical biography--a detailed blurb, essentially--about Maquet, by the critic Felix Jahyer. Interestingly, it entirely ignores his involvement with avant-garde Romanticism, skipping directly from his graduation in 1831 to the production of his first play in 1839, then tracing his collaborations with Dumas and the subsequent trial. It was published in the Paris-Portrait, an annual publication from which these portraits were intended to be removed.

 

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