This is the central site for a long-term project to research, examine, and respond to the radical collective of writers, theorists, architects, and visual artists who operated in Paris between 1829 and 1835 under the names of the Jeunes France & the Bouzingo, and through them to build a critical understanding of French Romanticist subculture through the historical lens of a continuing politically vigilant Anglophone avant-garde.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Incantation, by Philothée O'Neddy

Ninth Night.


My hardships and my blood determine my career;
My blood speaks to me, to me, ’tis my blood that I hear:
I do not think, me, I have sensations,
And my simple desires merit my passions!
        Victor Escousse.

To his palace abhorred beneath boulders deep-bored,
Itobal comes alone; underneath the low lintel,
He snatches up his gun and his bronze-tinted sword;
Then, on a bed of rushes, branch dead and brittle,
His spent height allows to tumble soil-ward.
But in vain this throatslicer,[1] whom fatigue so exceeds,
Ceasing three days of marching and bloodspattered fight,
Seeks slumber here within his cavern’s frigid bite:
Profound vertigo on his obsession feeds.

– A thousand curses! quoth he behind his bite:
There, close upon my ear, a swarm musters and roils;
My spasming muscles convulse, my lifeblood boils;
You would think I was on rageous[2] anthracite!
I know not which cruel sprite is so spitefully frantic
To thus strip an old wolf of the slumber he’s won:
So what? Do I not own an arcane magic,
To souse my senses with a balm lethargic,
For three entire reigns of night and of the sun? . . .
– Hey there! Do you stir, dull and vacant skulls
Of all the craven viles[3] whom my knife-hand has splayed!
Skulls, who slumber longside broad well-trampled ways,
In the water of wells, in the forests baleful,
Bring it on! Bring it on! Upon the winds take wing.
Profit then from the dark, in your advent aerial;
Then, alongside faint screams, with wheezings funereal,
Around my bedside valence dance, dance madly circling![4]

He’d scarcely dared to issue these demonic bulls,
Than, through the cloven rocks, boistrously in there bound,
Upon amber rays, a cortege of skulls,
By whom swiftly the bloodspattered bedside is crowned.
The dance tightens round, tis convulsed and whirled amiss;
And beguiled, mesmerised by the arhythmic course
Of psalms that the ball is buzzing in its bliss,
Fervently our highwayman to slumber deep is forced.
Yo! all you moralists, what’s that about remorse?

–trans. Olchar E. Lindsann

[1] égorgeur. A neologism when O’Neddy used it, the word has only rarely appeared since then, hence I’ve chosen a less familiar phrase than the common English “cutthroat”

[2] ardens in the original, a distortion of ardents, raging.

[3] O’Neddy is employing an adjective, vils, as a noun. His love for such grammatical disruptions and transpositions was a large part of the reason that his verse remained nearly unpublishable even in sympathetic Romanticist publications. (His only collection was self-published.)

[4] en rond, i.e., in a ring. In frenetic Romanticist circles, this was understood to refer to the dionysian rond de sabbat, or witches’ dance – which in turn was related to the Infernal Gallop, the favourite dance of the frenetics, which was essentially the same as contemporary punk circle-pits, and in which dancers who tripped were routinely trampled.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Archive of the Revenant Avant-Garde: Great new addition: 1830 Anti-Romanticist satire, ...

The Revenant Archive has added the following . . .

Antoine Jay, La Conversion d'un romantique, manuscrit de Jacques Delorme [The Conversion of a Romanticist, manuscript of Jacques Delorme]. 1830. First Edition. Moutardier, Librairie-Éditeur: Paris. Hardbound Octavo, 431 pp. Inscribed in Red Pen: [cf]. So. / Paris 8[?] 16  1848" & "A. [O?eg?es?]".

From the early 1820s until the "Battle of Hernani" in February of 1830, French Romanticist subculture became increasingly eccentric, militant, and visible to the public eye, at least in Paris. The resistance of the Classicist mainstream was ramped-up apace, and found its most forceful expression in this harsh anti-Romanticist satire by Antoine Jay, which rallied and catalyzed the Classicist opposition. 
Like many on the left in the 1820s and early '30s, Jay was progressive in political matters but deeply reactionary in linguistic and cultural matters. This book made him one of the most prominent critics of "The New Literature" as Romanticism was often called. Two years after its publication, Jay was elected to the Académie Française, where he militated against the admission of Victor Hugo in 1841; though Hugo was admitted, Jay saw his revenge the following year when Classicist audiences organised riots at the first performances of Hugo's play The Burgaves, spelling the end of the Romanticists' dominance of the popular stage since Hernani premiered within months of this novel.
The satire claims to have been written by Jacques Delorme, parodic brother of Saint-Beuve's arch-romanticist nom-de-plume Joseph Delorme. Jay parodies the "excesses" of the emerging avant-garde's lifestyle (attacking the Jeunes-France group by name), skewers Romanticist poetics, insults the movement's leaders and canon, and argues its literary principles. He spreads rumours about the subculture, exaggerates them, and invents others. He criticizes their experimental language, the distortion of grammar in their work, their use of neologisms, their employment of bizarre and inscrutable figurative language, even reprinting large passages of Romanticist verse and drama in order to ridicule it.
The book thus swiftly entered the Romanticist canon as a favoured target of invective and ridicule, and probably exercised some reciprocal influence on the radicalization of the movement's extreme fringes into the avant-garde, which was accelerating just as the book was published. It certainly affected the movement's representation of itself to the public, for the avant-garde Romanticists typically portrayed themselves in satirical form, as a function of their generally destabalising project. Gautier's roman-à-clef The Jeunes-France is, in one dimension, a parody of Jay's satire, as explicitly signaled in the tale, "Daniel Jovard; or, the Conversion of a Classicist".

This first-edition copy has been well-read but also well cared-for by at least one generation already, and probably at least two; the binding is tight and the pages clean, but the spine and edges are worn from use. The book's first owner has left no discernible trace, but an inscription in red ink, which I can only read in part, records its purchase in Paris during the 1848 revolution. A descriptive note in pencil, written on the back of a scrap of paper torn from an advert for fountain pens, has been tipped in as a bookmark by a subsequent owner, probably in the 1920s.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Alphinse Brot, 'The Young Girl' (1829)

The Young Girl
–by Alphonse Brot

She is far from the soil where Ivandor rests,
A mob of suitors presses around her;
She weeps, she flees from their drunken disorder,
For her heart is possessed absolutely by death!
She sings tunes from her lovely land derived,
Those sung long past by a hero favoured in her choice;
Oh, you can scarcely guess, you dazzled by her voice!…
The devouring regrets that lay waste to her life;

If, near her, Ivandor for moments seemed to thrive,
Too soon for his beloved island he was killed:    
His island weeps upon his war-like ashes still,
His Emma far from him shall not for long survive.

Raise a modest mausoleum for the maid,
Near winding woods, which both the lovers knew so well,
So that at last toward evening tender vows might knell
To come beguile at times her desolated shade!

            –Translated by Olchar E. Lindsann

Alphonse Brot, 'The Minstrel'

The Minstrel
by Alphonse Brot

The young minstrel of the war party;
In the ranks of death he hurls himself fearlessly;
The paternal sabre arms his vengeful arm,
His harp is hung at his haughty shoulder.

“Noble land of songs, called the bellicose bard,
When for you the Universe is indifferent,
A sword shall shine at least for your defense,
A lute with soft chords shall bless your laurel!”

The Minstrel was captured; on the foreign riverbank
He kept his pride; the lyre of Tara,
Beneath his scornful fingers, never breathed,
For he casts off his cord to the light breeze.

You wither my fetters, my harmonious lute,
Who so often sang of love and courage;
Your chords were born for generous hearts,
They never not resound in slavery.

      -Translated by Olchar E. Lindsann

1842 Article on the "Hugophiles"

A recent addition to the Revenant Archive, about the Romanticist-Classicist debates swirling about Hugo and his supporters – I posted this on the Archive site a few weeks ago, but I've just scanned the interior so that the entire article is available (in French) and the interior image, and expanded the catalogue description accordingly as below. I can provide a larger-res image for any potential translator.

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.


Saturday, September 9, 2017