The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Entries Tagged as 'Books'

The Squadron’s Umbrella

March 4th, 2015 · No Comments

 The Squadron’s Umbrella is now out from Black Scat Books! I quote the publisher: Authored by Alphonse Allais Translated by Doug Skinner Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) was France’s greatest humorist. His elegance, scientific curiosity, preoccupation with language and logic, wordplay and flashes of cruelty inspired Alfred Jarry, as well as succeeding generations of Surrealists, Pataphysicians, and […]

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Tags: Alphonse Allais · Books

Dinner in 18th Century England

February 16th, 2015 · No Comments

Guillaume Apollinaire, in his preface to a French edition of Fanny Hill, offered a look at dinner in that period. He may have paraphrased it from the book (I never read it); at any rate, here it is, in my translation. Here is a description of a fine English dinner in the month of June. […]

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Tags: Books · Dietary Mores

Etiquette in 18th Century London

February 9th, 2015 · 2 Comments

Casanova gives us a glimpse into etiquette in 18th century London, as only he can. Here it is, in my translation, from Volume 9, Chapter 10 of his memoirs. Going toward Buckingham House, I see in the bushes, some twelve or fifteen steps to my left, an indecency which surprises me. Four or five men […]

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Tags: Belief Systems · Books

On the Pleasures of Reading

January 26th, 2015 · 2 Comments

This ad, taken from the back matter in a 1920 edition of The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, proclaims that reading is “the greatest pleasure in life.” The reason, we are told, is because reading lets us escape our awful lives without having to get any exercise. Sounds good.

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Tags: Books

A Fortean Footnote

January 19th, 2015 · No Comments

The Fortean Society was founded by writer Tiffany Thayer in 1931, to promote the work of Charles Fort. By sheerest coincidence, two of its founding members, Ben Hecht and Alexander Woollcott, contributed to the same anthology, Nonsenseorship, back in 1922. They both wrote essays decrying censorship, and were duly caricatured by Ralph Barton. Here, then, […]

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Tags: Books · Cartoons · Forteana

Horoscrapes

November 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

Horoscrapes is now available!  Here is the publisher’s blurb: Part Oulipian exercise, these meticulous scrapings reveal the future in all its sublime absurdity. The author approached the horoscope in his morning newspaper as if it were a puzzle, like the crossword or sudoku. By scraping out the middle part, and joining the beginning and end, he received a hidden message. Reading outside the lines […]

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Tags: Books

The Local Circles of Sorcerers and Wizards Were Pleasant Enough

October 27th, 2014 · 3 Comments

For Halloween, an appropriate illustration by Frank C. Papé.  It’s taken from the 1929 edition of Something About Eve, by James Branch Cabell.  Please click on it to savor the details. (Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Tags: Books

Happy Allais Day

October 20th, 2014 · No Comments

Today is Alphonse Allais’s birthday: if he were alive today, he would be 160, which sounds unlikely.  To mark the occasion, here’s a photo of UK poet Edith Doove enjoying the now rare first volume of my translation of Allais’s Captain Cap.  The collected Cap, as well as my recently released translation of Allais’s plays, […]

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Tags: Alphonse Allais · Books

More Happy Readers

October 10th, 2014 · 1 Comment

The book blog “Wuthering Expectations” has published a nice review of the Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais.  You can read it here. And you can purchase the volume here. Norman Conquest, of Black Scat Books, has also passed along more photos of happy readers. (Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Tags: Alphonse Allais · Books

Divination by the Book of Proverbs

October 6th, 2014 · 3 Comments

One of my insomnia books recently has been The Queer, the Quaint, and the Quizzical: A Cabinet for the Curious, by Frank H. Stauffer.  It’s a compendium of odd facts, superstitions, linguistic curiosities, and folklore, published by David McKay in 1882.  Stauffer, according to what I could find, was a journalist and children’s author; with […]

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Tags: Books · Education