Francisque Sarcey (1827-1899) was, for much of his career, the most powerful theatrical critic in Paris. He was the perfect model of the blunt bourgeois, championing common sense, anti-intellectualism, and traditional values. He favored light, commercial fare, and railed against Ibsen and Jarry.
He was, predictably, a prime target for young artists. Alphonse Allais took the ridicule to new heights: from 1886 to 1893, he wrote a regular column for Le Chat Noir, which he simply signed as Francisque Sarcey. The pseudo-Sarcey became a grotesque caricature of the smug middle class, a sort of proto-Ubu: an obese, gluttonous, lecherous, hypocritical dolt, prattling on about his constipation and hemorrhoids, in loosely-knit sentences studded with clichés.
“How I Became an Idiot” collects four of Allais’s nastiest columns, translated, introduced and annotated by Doug Skinner. It’s available in a limited edition of 60 from Black Scat Books. None of this material has appeared in English before: snap one up!
(Posted by Doug Skinner)