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The Complete Works of Alphonse Allais (4-6)

June 30th, 2014 · No Comments

The rest of François Caradec’s edition of Alphonse Allais’s works is devoted to the “posthumous works.” The term is not quite accurate; almost all of the material was published in Allais’s lifetime. However, it wasn’t included in the collections that Allais himself called his “anthumous works.”  By Caradec’s count, there are 1,887 articles, novels, pamphlets, and plays.


The first volume (1966, 440 pp.) contains an assortment of early writings.  First of all, Allais’s contributions to Le Tintamarre (Uproar) from 1879 to 1884, mostly short jokes and squibs.  He specialized in a couple of forms: the autographe, a one-liner ending in a pun on a well-known name, and the comble (acme), some of which I’ve translated here.

There is a brief assortment of letters from Allais’s youth, particularly to his family.  Notable among these is a burlesque serial, “Le Petit Marquoir,” written for “Mademoiselle Marie,” a friend of his sister.

There are a few scattered contributions to Les Ecoles (1877-1878), La Revue Moderne et Naturaliste (1879), L’Hydropathe (1879), Le Tout-Paris (1880), and L’Anti-Concierge (1881-1882).

Most of the book, however, is taken up with his contributions to Le Chat Noir, the weekly paper published by Rodolphe Salis’s legendary cabaret.  This volume collects material from 1882 to 1887.

The cover illustration is Théophile Alexandre Steinlen’s poster for Le Chat Noir.


This second volume (1966, 381 pp.) contains the rest of Allais’s contributions to Le Chat Noir, from 1888 to 1896.

There are also a few articles from Le Courrier Français (The French Mail) from 1885 to 1893, and Le Mirliton (The Kazoo), from 1886 to 1895.  The latter was the organ of Aristide Bruant’s cabaret; Allais and Bruant were apparently quite friendly.

Closing the volume is the curious Album Primo-Avrilesque (April-Foolish Album) from 1897, which collects the monochromatic paintings Allais exhibited at the Arts Incohérents, as well as his piece of silent music, the “Funeral March Composed for a Great Man Who Was Deaf.”

The cover illustration is the sign that hung outside Le Chat Noir, by Adolphe Willette.


The third posthumous volume (1967, 488 pp.) collects “La Vie Drôle” (“The Funny Life”), the column that Allais wrote twice a week for the Parisian paper Le Journal.  This volume covers the years 1892 to 1897.

The cover sports a caricature by Jean Veber, which appeared in Le Journal in 1896.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: 'pataphysics · Alphonse Allais · Literature

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