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, June 27, 2016

Announcing "Revenance: A Zine of Hauntings from Underground Histories"

The Revenant sub-imprint is kicking off its own periodical, Revenance, and is open to contributions!
Revenance promotes history practiced as game, as activism, as trans-generational collaboration, as communal memory. A historiography that runs athwart the academic, refuses to describe history as dead, as finished, which does not stand apart to observe its object from a distance, in the posture of false 'objectivity' which Power always assumes. Instead: a committed historiography, which does not claim to stand outside the stream of time or apart from its object, intellectual and precise, yet ludic and multi-form, one moment manifest as an essay, the next as a poem; a historiography researched and written from within the utopian fringe, and for the same community, responsive to our changing conditions, needs, and desires. A historiography that we take personally, which merges imperceptibly into daily life, thought, and continued experimental practice and life.
Like the Revenant imprint and archive, the journal will focus on forgotten and newly-discovered history of avant-garde, radical activist, utopian, and other underground countercultures. While the primary focus will be on the 19th Century, earlier and later material is also welcome, and contributions directly connecting counter-cultural movements and strategies across time are particularly encouraged. The primary goal is to explore histories, communities, and themes that are not consistently represented elsewhere. Revenance seeks to develop a community of independent DIY researchers who see historical work as part of a communal praxis directed toward contemporary and future change; it is a laboratory in which countercultural history is transmuted, reflected and disseminated in the current lifestyle, writing, music, art, and thought of present-day communities of dissent or otherness.
There are a small but ardent sprinkling of us across the world whose varied interests have led us to converge, via different paths, upon an overlapping cluster of historical subjects, and who are activating that history within an array of subcultures from the avant-garde to fanfic to punk to Decadence to Weird Fiction; a lot of knowledge and reflection, which has scarcely been shared or made visible. Ideally, the journal's readers will also be its contributors; with time, we will find our separate areas of research connecting and reinforcing each other.
We welcome all forms of historical engagement: essays, translations, sample passages of books and images in the public domain, transductions & re-workings of old work, poems (think Ed Sanders' Investigative Poetics, Banville's poems on Romanticism), book reviews, stories (romans à clefs? speculative fanfic?), bibliographies and reading-lists, historiographic theory, and more. Much of this material may be drawn upon for later re-publication in anthologies by Revenant Editions, or expanded to full chapbooks. It will consistently feature passages and translations taken from the Revenant Archive and research relating to it and the 'Resurrecting the Bouzingo' project.
The journal will be published on an irregular basis, whenever enough contributions accumulate and I have time to print. Submissions will be rolling: send me what you have when it's ready, and it will go into the next issue. In order to get the ball rolling though, for the first issue the deadline will be July 31, 2016.
Email contributions or questions to or
Previously published work (except on mOnocle-Lash) is fine, and before you think you don't have time–
The word 'zine' in the subtitle is a reminder that we desire participation above all, and encourage contributions that are humble in size, but striking in their interest or intriguing in theoir implications. We particularly encourage micro-essays and short essays and translations–we'd rather have a couple paragraphs on a fascinating subject than nothing at all because you haven't the time to write something longer. The projected average contribution would be a page or so, some shorter, many longer. I've even seen facebook posts which, with a citation or two and a few sentences of context added, would be worthy of inclusion.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Philothée O'Neddy's Personal Library!

Check this out and step inside the brain of the first-generation avant-garde: the catalog from the sale of Bouzingo co-founder Philothée O'Neddy's personal library after his death!…/bpt6k1240265s.r=bibliotheque%20de%2…
I found it while doing research for the forthcoming FULL-LENGTH Philothée O'Neddy anthology, the first ever to appear in English!
This bibliography probably includes only the books that were worth enough money in 1875 to be worth auctioning individually; books that were either too common or too obscure to be worth much money were most likely bundled into lots and sold to second-hand book dealers en masse.
Here is a longish list, in no particular order, or some of the most interesting things that I noticed out of the 70 pages of listings:
==> O'Neddy owned many books on mysticism & science, alchemy, astronomy, geomancy, cabala, occultism, many 16th & 17th century copies, including a 1695 Hermetic dictionary, and 1611 edition of Nostradamus' prophesies.

==> Books on the theory and history of iconography & hieroglyphics.

==> On linguistics: Latin, French, Greek; dictionaries of rhymes, onomatopoeia (ed. Nodier), and several treatises attacking the official dictionary of the Académie Français through the ages.

==> Several anthologies and studies of comparative religion, as well as those on Islam, and Confucianism.

==> Scores of books from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, especially those dealing with mysticism, heresy, church politics, chivalric romance, and history–his library of medieval history was particularly large.

==> Medieval songs (most in first publications from manuscript during 1830s-50s), complete works of the Medieval criminal-poet Villon, Lazarillo de Tormes, Cervantes, and Rabelais in Bibliophile Jacob's edition with Doré's illustrations.

==> Many books in Latin (especially Medieval books on theology, hermeticism and history).

==> Philosophy and political theory: Moore's 'Utopia', works by the reformer Erasmus, Enlightenment Philosophes Rousseau and Voltaire (complete works), the radical Jacobin revolutionary Saint-Just (a ton of his books, one with an Introduction by Nodier), the anarchist Proudhon, the syndicalist Socialist Louis Blanc, and many works of the Revolutionary Girondistes, and studies of the Reign of Terror, plus a 1658 tract from England advocating regicide.
==> Histoire de l'Assemblée contituante” by Bazard, the ex-Saint-Simonist and founder of Christian Socialism, followed by Bouzngo co-founder Jehan Du Seigneur.

==> Evadamiste Socialist-occultist Alphonse Esquiros' 1847 'Paris, ou les Sciences, les institutions et les moeurs au XIX siècle."

==> "Poésies socials des ouvriers" socialist poems by self-taught workers, edited by Olinde Rodrigues, coiner of the term 'avant-garde'. This is the same 1st édition as that held in the Revenant Archive.

==> Cross-dressing female Romanticist historian & novelist Daniel Stern's 1850 'Histoire de la Révolution de 1848'.

==> A ton of history by the Liberal Romanticist historian Michelet, and a great many histories of the French Revolution, and general French & Roman history.

==> Jules Claretie's biography of O'Neddy's friend Borel.

==> Barbey d'Aurevilly's important Dandyist manifesto, 'Du Dandyisme et de George Brummell,' in 1st edition.

==> Tons of Romanticist literature naturally, many in first edition, some limited editions. Tons by Hugo, Musset, Lamartine, Saint-Beuve, Balzac, Stendhal, and Barthélemy, and a lot of Madame de Staël, Auguste Barbier, Alfred de Vigny, Casimir-Delavigne, George Sand, and Charles Nodier, including his 'Sept chateaux de le Roi du Bohême,' containing some of the very first avant-garde visual poetry and phonetic poetry.

==> Foreign Romantics or Romanticist icons: Byron, Ossian, Herder, Shakespeare, Goethe.

==> Books with personal inscriptions from their authors:
---------------Petrus Borels' 1832 Rapsodies
---------------Borel's 1839 'Madame Putiphar'
---------------Bibliophile Jacob's 1830 'Les Deux Fous"
---------------Honoré de Balzac's 'Monographie de la presse parisien' with text-corrections in Balzac's hand
---------------Casimir Delavigne's 1836 'A Family in the Time of Luther'
---------------Louise Colet's 'Monument de Molière'
---------------Auguste Barthélemy's 1844 'L'Art de fumer, ou la Pipe et le Cigare'
---------------Aimé Martin's 1837 'Plan d'un bibliothèque universelle' (encloses letter)
---------------Ernest Legouvé's 1833 'Morts bizarres, poèmes dramatiques, suivis de poésies'
---------------Lesné's 1827 'Épître à Simier père sur l'exposition de 1823'
---------------O'Neddy's own copy of 'Feu et flame' enclosing letters by Chateaubriand, Béranger
---------------Victor Hugo's gift copy of 'Les Burgraves' enclosing 2 portraits of Hugo and two letters from him, clippings of Dondey's reviews of the play (for which he lost his job), & an unpublished article by O'Neddy on the Neo-Classicist riot at the play's pre-performance.

==> Two copies of 1st ed. Hernani: one 1st printing, & a second printing with inscription "Hierro" & a portrait added (details not given in bibliography).

==> Also 12 letters from Borel, one from Saint-Beuve, five from Bouchardy, & one from Hugo

==> Lots of literary history generally.

==> Various other interesting books that jumped out:
---------------Aloysius Bertrand, 'Gaspard de la nuit'
---------------Aimé Martin, 'Plan d'un bibliothèque universelle'
---------------A collection of Bosnian, Croatian & Herzegovinian poetry, edited by Romanticist historian & novelist Prosper Mérimée.

==> A ton of theatre, especially by Cornielle (one of the first writers attacked by the French Academy), the comedian Molière, and the libertine & fantasist Fontaine. Also lots of work by the libertine satirists Crebillon and Rétif de la Bretonne.

==> Complete works of Boilleau, the hero of Classicism!

==> A great many bibliographies, both by subject matter and catalogues of other bibliophiles' collections. The later include catalogs of the personal libraries of the Romanticist defrocked priest Lamennais, O'Neddy's mentor Nodier (3 different bibliographies!), the proto-Romantic writers Chénier and Aimé Martin, the Romanticist preservationist and editor Baron Taylor, Romanticist writers Saint-Beuve and Charles Maurice, most of whom O'Neddy knew personally.

==> Treatises on typography: Henrici Stephani Epistola (1569) & the influential Romanticist typographer Henri Fournier (1825).

==> A small library on copyright law

Saturday, June 18, 2016

New Light Shed on the Avant-Garde's relationship to Saint-Simonist Socialism!

This is a long post & description, because the research spurred by a couple of recent acquisitions (this and the letter by Léon Halévy) to the Revenant Archive has begun to shed a ore detailed light on the complex relationship between the Saint-Simonist socialist movement and the emerging Avant-Garde––
Émile Barrault [unsigned], Aux Artistes: du passé et de l'avenir des Beaux-Arts (Doctrine de Saint-Simon). (To the Artists: On the Past and Future of the Fine Arts (Doctrine of Saint-Simon) ). (1830) Alexandre Mesnier: Paris. Stab-Stitched Paperback Octavo, 84 pp. w/ catalogue numbers in ink on front cover, "Barrault / E." & other markings in pencil on flyleaf, deep dog-ear on page 38.

Utopian Socialism played an important role in radical Romanticism, and the most visible and active Socialist community in their milieu was Saint-Simonism. Both movements were fringe forces in the intellectual community prior to the July Revolution of 1830, and both exploded suddenly into popular consciousness in its wake; inevitably, Saint-Simonian ideas were an important influence on the emerging Romanticist avant-garde, though the nature of that influence was complex and often indirect. Their periods of most intense group activity co-incided almost exactly.

During this brief period of freedom of speech in the wake of the revolution, Saint-Simonists established a commune in Paris in which the genders were (theoretically) equal, set up soup kitchens and free schools in working-class neighbourhoods throughout Paris, attracted thousands of workers, students and women to weekly lectures, acquired the ex-Romanticist newspaper The Globe as their public organ and began a journal for self-taught working-class writers as well as the first Feminist newspaper in France. They distributed many pamphlets mapping out their vision of a new socialist society; this pamphlet is one of those, issued within months of the Revolution, printed crookedly on cheap paper and stab-bound with string to make as inexpensive as possible to buy.
While mainstream Liberal Romanticism was tolerated, and then adopted by the "Bourgeois King" in exchange for tolerance of the Monarchic system itself, Saint-Simonism soon became a major target of the new Orleans regime. A smear campaign by government-associated newspapers was followed by censorship of the newspapers and lectures, a series of police raids on two subsequent communes, and sensational trials. By 1835 the popular movement had died out, though a small community continued on France, Northern Africa and the United States into the 1860s.
The Saint-Simonists made a particularly strong appeal to architects, musicians, artists and writers, who they saw as essential to giving birth to a new consciousness. Their publications and lectures were attended to by many Romanticists, including Franz Liszt, George Sand, and several of the Bouzingo group. Copies of this pamphlet were almost certainly owned or borrowed by a number of them; though unsigned, a previous owner of this copy attributes it, like some other sources, to Émile Barrault.
Opinion within the Saint-Simonist movement was divided, however, as to what forms the called-for artistic evolution should take. The influence of this debate on radical circles in late 1830 has not been documented, at least in English; but this little book may offer some clues once it is fully examined. Barrault admits in his opening that he himself can propose no definite programme--he confesses ignorance of the arts, and proclaims that the artists, poets, playwrights and musicians must themselves invent Saint-Simonist culture; he can merely explain to them the nature of their challenge, and how the arts will fit into the Saint-Simonist worldview. 
Barrault's confession, while frank, begs the question of why he has undertaken the job; especially since the Saint-Simoinists had already published on the question several years earlier. In 1825, another Saint-Simonist, Olinde Rodrigues, had published a sixty-page tract on the subject, in which the term "avant-garde" itself had first been used in an essay--and from which some of the Romanticists had already taken up the term to refer to themselves by 1829. 
In the interim, Rodrigues and Léon Halévy (Saint-Simon's personal secretaries before his death) had split away from the main branch of the movement, eschewing the (idiosyncratic) religious emphasis of its interpretation. I have not yet had time to examine Rodrigues' essay (I am only one person, after all), and I am not aware of any comprehensive paraphrase of his theory in English. However, the fact that the organisation felt the need to issue a new essay on radical art, even if by a writer who did not feel fully qualified for the task, seems to imply a doctrinal or strategic conflict with Rodrigues and Halévy. This inference is strengthened by the fact that Halévy was himself a Romanticist poet with strong connections to the avant-garde, was published in several volumes of the Annales Romantiques anthologies (including the 1832 and 1834 volumes in this archive), and was a personal friend of Petrus Borel, and therefore probably of Philothée O'Neddy and Alphonse Brot--all co-founders of the Bouzingo group, the latter of whom had become in 1829 the first person to describe the group in print using Rodrigues' terminology, as "the avant-garde of Romanticism". (See the "Personal Artifacts" tab for the letter from Halévy in the Revenant Archive.)
Halévy's Romanticist activity thus seem distinctly at odds with this pamphlet, for after initially refusing to commit on the Romanticist-Classicist debate, Barrault goes on eventually to dismiss Romanticism--especially its Frenetic tendencies--which he considers too idiosyncratic to provide the basis for orderly social co-ordination, referring to its "bizarre monstrosities," its "profound sorrows, desolations, and desolation," its destructive "irony" and "horrors of doubt and anarchy". This seems--tentatively--to imply that the advent of radical Romanticism was bound up with a crisis in Saint-Simonist activism, the nature of which will be better revealed once Rodrigues' text is more thoroughly examined. When O'Neddy, for instance, recalled that the Bouzingo group were engaged with Saint-Simonism, it seems that their engagement must have been shaped in large part by these competing elements within the movement; this potentially clarifies the ambivalent attitude that their activity and writing reveals toward the larger, more publicly visible Saint-Simonist group who had published this pamphlet. The owner of this copy may have been closer to the "avant-garde" than to the main branch of Saint-Simonism; they cut the pages and read up to the discussion about the decay of religion and "organic" vs. "critical" epochs on page 38, which they dog-eared deeply, then stopped reading: the rest of the pages remain uncut.
A hypothetical trajectory of Saint-Simonist/Romanticist relations from 1825-1830 might be sketched out thus:
  • In 1825, Rodrigues publishes his Saint-Simonist tract on ""L'artiste, le savant et l'industriel" (The Artist, the Scientist, and the Industrialist"), where the term 'avant-garde' is coined.
  • In 1829 Alphonse Brot uses the term to refer to radical Romanticism and the group soon to become the Petit-Cénacle/Jeunes-France/Bouzingo, clearly implying that it exercised at least some influene over their thinking and practice. 
  • By or around this time, Rodrigues and Halévy have split from the main Saint-Simonist group, and the latter is writing in the community that Brot had called 'the avant-garde of Romanticism'--indeed, is or will soon become close to some of the group's co-founders, likely including Brot himself.
  • In Feb. 1830, the Romanticists fight the "Battle of Hernani" and begin their cultural revolution; in July, the Bourbon monarchy is overthrown but replaced by the Orleans Monarchy. The main Saint-Simonist group, disapproving of Rodrigues' ideas as they were being (at least to some degree) appropriated by the Romanticist avant-garde, feel the need to issue a new treatise on Saint-Simonist art to replace his, upon different doctrinal grounds.
Further research will confirm, disprove, or alter this hypothesis...

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Revenant Archive adds 1833 issue of 'Charivari' with Review of Bouzingo co-founder Alphonse Brot

Le Charivari (The Hullabaloo). Year 2, No. 333 (Wednesday, Oct. 30, 1833) Paris. Paperback Quarto, 4 pp.

The satirical magazine Charivari was one of the most vocal opponents of the July Monarchy, repeatedly prosecuted by the government for sedition and libel against the King. It served as the model for the famous British satire magazine Punch, which was subtitled "The London Charivari".
Founded by the political cartoonist Charles Phillipon, the journal attracted many of the leading Romanticist illustrators, caricaturists and draftsmen, including Bouzingo co-founder Célestin Nanteuil, Honoré Daumier, Tony Johannot, and Grandville (many of whose work can be found in elsewhere in the Revenant Archive), and would later become one of the key links between visual Romanticism and Realism. Oddly, the only drawings contained in this issue are a series of tiny naturalistic tableaux of "Various Little Subjects" as the title indicates, signed 'Jules 1831' in tiny lettering. Other features include a satirical comedy sketch about the National Guard, a fake gossip column about the hated government minister Tallyrand, an actual gossip column with bits of news about the Romantic poet Lamartine and career politician Thiers, a column of assorted topical one-liner jokes, a poem entitled "Political Cipher", some barbs thrown in debates with various other newspapers, and a listing of the plays currently showing at each of the city's 19 theatres (among which are included the Diorama and Panorama).
For the Revenant Archive's mandate, the main interest in this issue is a review of the novel Ainsi soit-il: Histoire du coeur (So Be It: Story of the Heart), by Alphonse Brot, co-founder of the Bouzingo. Brot is one of the more obscure writers of this obscure group, and this is one of the few traces of his activity and reputation during its lifespan--four years after he first described himself and his comrades in print as "the avant-garde of Romanticism".

O'Neddy–one of Brot's oldest friends in the Romanticist community–later recalled that his work was considered too conservative by his comrades (he was attempting to merge Classicism and Romanticism, a feat that would not find support in the avant-garde for another decade). The anonymous reviewer here also notes that Brot's plot–a love triangle between an aging Napoleonic general, his son, and her fiancé–is conventional, but praises the novel for the way in which the plot is handled: "But the happy, truly original idea of Mr. Alphonse Brot's novel, is to have summoned all of the interest onto [the General] Luigi's passion. Everywhere else, amorous old lechers are almost constantly ridiculed . . . Things pass more humanely in So Be It. One sensed that the love of a young man, beneath the withered features of the old man, was something tragic rather than clownish..."

At the end of the positive review, the reviewer notes that he has criticized Brot in the past for his "forced situations" and "pretentious style" (both, especially the latter, probably referring to Frenetic / avant-garde elements) and congratulates Brot on reigning the novel in to a more acceptable standard of naturalism and common language, adding that, "we expect still more from Alphonse Brot's talent." We can glimpse here some of the critical pressure exerted upon those in the avant-garde to conform their work to the consolidating expectations of the literary market, visible elsewhere in the review of Gautier's Les Jeumes-France in Revenant Archive's copy of Les Temps, published less than two months before this.
Indeed, Brot's short Preface to So Be It (link above) is worth reading if one knows french; it responds to past criticisms of his previous books, relates his  present work to it, and lays out his future plans, eliciting further comment. In his 1829 Chants d'amour (Songs of Love) he floated a passage from a projected play in verse, promising to complete it if the public showed interest; apparently it did not, because it never appeared and in fact Brot stopped writing verse. He did successfully conform to market demands and went on to a successful literary career, his seminal role in founding the avant-garde largely forgotten even before his death; but since then he has disappeared entirely from cultural memory, even in France. Other items in the archive relating to Brot include his novels reproduced in L'Écho des Feuilletons in the "Anthologies" section, his collaborative novel Le Déesse Raison (The Goddess Reason) in "Literature," and an 1880 promotional card for the latter novel, in "Ephemera".