Things progress! Some recent updates:
- The most exciting news: new translations have been posted of three prose-poems by Aloysius Bertrand. These have been translated by Jonah Durning-Hammond, who is responsible for the translation of the fragments of the novel Sodom & Zion by Dondey (O'Neddy), mentioned in previous updates and linked to in a sidebar along the right of the blog. The first, which dedicates his collection Treasurer of Night to Victor Hugo, is a fascinating explication of the attitude of the Jeunes-France toward their place in the developing Romanticist/ avant-garde canon, and the strategies used to ensure their potential rediscovery (see my copious intro and notes to the piece). The other two are strange and haunting texts thoroughly encoded with alchemical iconography and subtexts. Many thanks to Jonah for taking these on!
- We are not alone. In the course of research I learned that John Emerson has been looking into the Bouzingo and the surrounding 19th Century counterculture for some time, and with access to a wider range of materials, being francophone. HIS BLOG has a good deal of valuable information, and is worth spending some time with. The analysis comes from a politically engaged, countercultural perspective and not only supplements what we've been able to turn up so far, but sometimes comes to somewhat different conclusions which should make for good discourse as things develop.
- One vexed question that Emerson's blog throws considerably more light onto is the issue of what this group were called. Still something of an open question, though his research helps us to map out the territory of that question. First, every name applied to them (Bouzingo, Jeunes-France, and Cénacle) was at some time applied to other, less defined groups as well; most or all of these names were first applied by parties hostile to the group, and then claimed (possibly) by (at least some) of them. At points two or three names were probably used simultaneously. There were a number of variant spellings used for both 'Jeunes-France' and 'Bouzingo', often intentionally misspelled. Some members seemed to prefer certain names, while others preferred alternatives. This issue warrants its own more extended post, which I'll get around to at some point. But I increasingly get the feeling that 'Bouzingo' was not the favoured term. While continuing to use all three names until this question is clarified, I am generally opting for the name 'Jeunes-France', which seems, all averages being worked out, to be the term that the largest number of the group would have the most agreement with the largest part of the time...
- I have unearthed a Review of Rhapsodies, by Petrus Borel from the Revue des Deux Mondes, Vol. V, Jan.-March 1832, under 'Book Review' and 'New Literature'. I give the exact information because the site keeps moving the page so this link is likely to be broken in a month or two. Take a look around, you should still be able to find it. The Revue des Deux Mondes appears to have been a Conservative paper prior to the July 1830 Revolution, but then fell into the hands of the Cénacle Romanticist group, with regular contributions by Vigny, Hugo, Dumas, Sue, Nodier, Saint-Beuve, Janin, Musset, Michelet, and other Liberal Romantics. The review here presages the impending split between the Liberal Cénacle (most of whom accepted the July Monarchy and were focusing on disseminating Romanticism to a broader public) and the radicals of the Jeunes-France. The article is in French naturally. The link above is to the google-translated version of the page, for the French version CLICK HERE. The reviewer is anonymous; I am currently trying to puzzle together a hypothesis as to their his identity. He gives an indignantly negative review (despite conceding Borel's promise), which indicates how volatile Borel's Preface (see Joseph Carter's translation in the TRANSLATIONS tab) was within the internal politics of Romanticism itself. The poems themselves are scarcely mentioned except in passing, the Preface being the clear focus of the attack. And even the Republican politics of the manifesto are not the nub of the issue for this reviewer; what he takes issue with above all is Borel's attack on the aristocratic airs of the previous generation of Romantics. When Carter first sent me his translation of the Preface, one of the most obscure parts of the text to me was the passage: "If I have taken pleasure in spreading my poverty, it is because our contemporary bards stink me up with their pretended poems and pashalic luxuries, their aristocratic curve, their Ecclesiastical childishness and marginal sonnets; to hear them, one would believe to see them a hair sweater or coat of arms at the flank, a rosary or a merlin at the fist." Only after reading Bénichou's study of Romanticism did I come to recognise that this was a dig at the Cénacle group, or elements of it, referring simultaneously to their mode of literary self-presentation, their support of the re-instituted 'Liberal' Monarchy, and the recent Catholic-Monarchist past that many of them shared. This very passage evidently struck quite a nerve within the Cénacle, and the reviewer spends half the article responding to it in a rather frantic and indignant fashion.
- Tomislav Butkovic has located a copy of Hugo's Hernani, the performance of which was so central to the formation of the Petit-Cénacle/ Jeunes-France, illustrated in part by Achille Devéria, who led a 'Romanticist battalion' at the 'Battle of Hernani', in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY. Earlier this week he went to take a look at the book in the flesh, as it were, got some photos with the help of Tsubasa Berg. This turns out to be an edition from the 1890s with only a frontispiece by Devéria, a portrait of Hugo; the other illustrations are by an academic artist named Arturo Michelena. The publisher seems to have vaguely focused on geological publications... However, the museum is opposed to people having access to the materials that it is their social mandate to give people access to, and though the book is not on display we are not allowed to make the copyright-free plates available. This is part of a research project and at some point in the near future there will be a text coming out of it, which should help to throw some more light on the relationship of the group to both the text of Hernani and the experience they shared of the 'Battles' of its theatrical run.
- A small extra tidbit on Bibliophile Jacob, aka Paul Lacroix, the father-in-law and collaborator of Jehan duSeigneur. Turns out that in addition to his pamphlet on Sade (and his central role in the Romanticist historiography of the Middle Ages and Renaissance) he was the author of a definitive history of Prostitution from ancient times to the present. Vol. II is even available in English translation (not sure what happened to Vol. I). Lacroix also co-edited an edition of Villon, the medieval poet, scholar, thief and murderer who was a major model for the Jeunes-France. I am attempting to figure out whether THIS BOOK by Lacroix is the one on which DuSeigneur collaborated; further updates will let you know if so.
- And finally, I've found that a horror anthology series produced by Ridley Scott, 'The Hunger', made a half-hour adaptation of Le Morte Amoureuse, a short Gothic tale by Théophile Gautier. The episode is called 'Clarimonde', from the end of the first season, and is available through Netflix, including on Instant Watch. I've seen 'Le Morte Amoureuse' translated as five unrelated titles, but never as its actual translation, which I think is something like "The Loving Dead" (correct me if I'm wrong, actual French-readers). The adaptation's pretty decent, though there are naturally some changes in the story; in particular it bothers me that the woman has short hair in 1835, but what can you do. The original is a great piece, and was published in 1836, so was being written right around the time the Jeunes-France were beginning to drift apart and the Bohême Doyenné group was constellating.