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.

Biographies

A work in Progress! More Biographies will be posted as there is time to prepare them; the same goes for expansions of those already posted (the O'Neddy bio is still in sketch form).
On sources, research, and the historiographic aspects of these biographies, refer to the "ABOUT THE PROJECT" tab. 

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A Note on Biographies

The biographies available here are by Olchar E. Lindsann; over time, more will be added, including writings by other avant-gardists, past and present.

There is very little information available in English regarding most of the Jeunes-France; those on whom information is available (Borel, Gautier, Nerval) deserve, in my view, a complete re-evaluation. My goal here has been firstly to present to the greatest extent possible a unified, coherent narrative of the life of each of the members; secondly to approach each biography as a way to address and explore particular sets of ideological and strategic approaches, affiliations, influences, micro-communities, and other aspects of the rich and complex cultural and political terrain touched on by the Bouzingo. 

In particular, the key years of collective activity, 1830-35, are for the most part treated anecdotally by those involved and secondary sources conflict wildly; so that the actual timeline of developments and events is constantly in flux. I am doing my best to reflect these changes throughout the website, but if the Timeline page for instance conflicts with some of the Biographies this is indicative of the difficulty of reconstructing minutely the activities of a rapidly changing underground micro-community at a 180-year remove without access to the language in which this activity was carried out. The basic trajectory of the group is known, though the placement of certain incidents is uncertain; their collective activity certainly started in late 1830, but depending on sources the development that we can trace may have occurred by mid 1833 or have lasted nearly to 1836. I am slowly tending toward the latter view, but whatever hypothesis one takes up, one finds conflicting evidence.
 
Methodologically, I have begun with every bit of information that I can glean from a diffuse array of sources; from there I have extrapolated, filled in blanks, connected dots to the best of my ability in light of my ongoing research into French Romanticism and its context, and in view of the interpretive prerogatives mentioned here and in the ABOUT THE PROJECT section, to which I refer the reader for further discussion about my historiographic approach to this project. As a result, all biographies will be frequently updated as information and interpretation changes.
 
The upshot of this is that these biographies cannot help but represent a hybrid of fact, myth, and speculation--a state of affairs which the Bousingot themselves did much to bring about. In navigating this historiographic house of mirrors, I have been guided by my evolving understanding of the intellectual context of their activity, inflected in turn by the ethical and political considerations expanded upon in "ABOUT THE PROJECT". I am striving to make and keep these biographies accurate, but not objective. They respond to my own reasons for initiating this project, and to the motivations and attitudes of their subjects inasmuch as they are revealed through the research. My attitude in general is that a large part of these biographies' value lies in their ability to suggest and delineate the more complex and nuanced aspects of the Romantic community, a purpose which they can serve even if later amended in light of further research or analysis.
 
I will confess as well that I have consciously hoped that some of my extrapolations will elicit challenge, and thus catalyze active and public discussion about the issues they raise. Making allowance for the difficulties faced by my desire to make biographies of all of the Jeunes-France available in a reasonable time, I am attempting to make my sources plain and encourage independent research; for specific questions, please contact me. In addition to interpretive criticism, I also welcome concrete historical corrections or clarification, especially from those who are able to consult French-language sources unavailable to me.
 

Petrus Borel
(1809 - 1859) 
 

 


Joseph Bouchardy
(1810–1870)




Louis Boulanger 
(1806 - 1867)



Alphonse Brot
(1807-1895) 




 
Alphonse Brot is among the most enigmatic members of the Bouzingo group. He is the earliest person to go on record as self-identifying as a member of "l'avant-garde," in his 'Preface to Songs of Love and Other Poems,' published in 1829. Yet he explicitly bases this solidarity on the avant-garde's leftist political commitments; he was particularly close to O'Neddy and to Franz Lizst, both at the time keenly interested in Saint-Simonism and other proto-Socialist movements, along with others in underground Romanticism. But formally, he advocates for a middle-ground or synthesis between Romanticism and Classicism, and his close friend O'Neddy later remarked that the group felt he lacked commitment to the Romanticist cause.  
 

After the dissolution of the Bouzingo, his path seems to have drifted away from the avant-garde (at least in its Romanticist form). He appears to have ceased writing poetry, and devoted himself to novels and plays, which sold successfully for the next sixty years; for two years he was co-director of the Théâtre Ambigu-Comique, which specialised in popular melodrama for the lower classes. Despite his popularity at the time, he seems not to have been read at all from within a few years of his death. In the avant-garde, too, his name disappears from the discourse entirely after 1833, with the single exception of the O'Neddy letter referred/linked to above. My French is not good enough to allow me to read with any fluency his books or the hundred others calling for my attention, so we await another re-reading before we can fully reconstruct his trajectory and significance.

But despite this apparent apostasy, continuities seem to exist. On the one hand, many of his popular novels and melodramas seem to continue the gothic-Romanticist tradition of exaggerated violence, passion, and transgression; several of his titles, moreover, suggest themes related to revolution and resistance to tyranny (cf. Pray For Them, Karl Sand (a leftist German poet-martyr), and possibly this volume, which takes place during the French Revolution). On the other hand, enticingly, when in 1866 a group of avant-garde poets advocated for a new, experimental synthesis between Classicism and Romanticism, they designated themselves by a name that Brot used, in the very same paragraph, as a synonym for what he called the "avant-garde": the Parnasse Contemporain (Contemporary Parnassus).

Brot was the last member of the Bouzingo group to die. In the course of his life, Brot lived to see what he termed "the avant-garde of Romanticism" evolve into Bohemianism and the Cult of Art, then to Parnassianism (its name sounding strangely familiar) and Realism, and thence into Naturalism, Decadence and Symbolism; he would survived to see the early publications of Jarry, dying in 1895, the year before Ubu Roi premiered. Unfortunately, we have as yet uncovered nothing to indicate what he thought of these developments.



Jehan Du Seigneur
{a.k.a. Jean Duseigneur} 
(1808 - 1866)

  


Philothée O'Neddy 
{a.k.a. Théophile Dondey} 
(1806 - 1867)
  
(A Portrait or Stub--full Biography forthcoming)
Download O'Neddy's 1833 Manifesto/Forward to Fire and Flame
  
Philothée O'Neddy was, along with Petrus Borel, one of the principal organisers of the Bouzingo group, and among its most politically and ideologically radical and outspoken. According to his friend Gautier, "In all he did the tone was excessive, the colouring extreme and violent, the utmost bounds of expression reached, the very originality aggressive, and the whole almost dripping with originality". He was known for his "absurd paradoxes, the sophistical maxims, the incoherant metaphors, the turgid hyperbole and the six-foot words." He wore his eyeglasses even in his sleep, claiming that without them he could not see his dreams clearly enough.

Gautier considered O'Neddy one of the most skilled poetic craftsmen of his generation: "Philothée was a metrical writer; he knew how to fashion a line on an anvil, and when he had drawn from the fire the incandescent alexandrine, he could give it, amid a shower of sparks, the form he wanted by means of his heavy and persevering hammering."

His father died in the cholera epidemic of 1832, several months from retirement after 29 years in public service, and his family was denied pension; O'Neddy began to live a double life, taking his father's job to support his mother and sister while continuing as a ringleader of the Bouzingo. While Fire & Flame, published the following year, was hailed by the extreme wing of the avant-garde as a Romanticist masterpiece, the psychological strain of this way of living began to burn him out as it did Borel. By the end of the decade, his spirit broken, he had reverted to his given name, Théophile Dondey, though he continued to published Gothic novels and occasional verse under that name, and to support the Romanticist community through his influence on the press co-owned by his brother, the 'Oriental Library of Dondey-Dupré'.

For nearly decade he fell out of touch with his old comrades; finally in 1848 he attended a banquet thrown for fellow Bouzingo Célestin Nanteuil, who had designed the frontispiece for Fire &Flame

Gautier, overjoyed, asked him, "when will your second volume of verse appear?"
'He gazed at me with his watery, frightened blue eyes,' relates Gautier, 'and answered with a sigh:--
"When there are no more Bourgeois."'

From this time he attended most of the Romanticist reunions until his death in 1875.


BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Gautier, Théophile & Sumichrast, F.C., trans. (1908) A History of Romanticism / The Progress of French Poetry Since 1830. New York, George D. Sproul. [Facsimile edition from Kessinger Publishing]
Starkie, Enid.  (1954) Petrus Borel, the Lycanthrope: His Life and Times. New York: New Directions.
Philothée O'Neddy & Carter, Joseph, trans. (1833) Preface, Feu et Flamme. Paris: Oriental Library of Dondey-Dupré.
"Philothée O'Neddy". wikipedia (French language via google translation tool). http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philoth%C3%A9e_O%27Neddy . retrieved March, 2010.