The Air at the Top of the Bottle

The Ullage Group header image 1

Pierre Gustave Brunet and the Literature of the Insane

January 27th, 2014 · No Comments

Pierre Gustave Brunet (1805-1896) compiled bibliographies.  I know nothing else about him.  His output was remarkable, though, as were the subjects he chose: Pope Joan, Biblical apocrypha, theological curiosities, imaginary libraries, fictional publishers, literary frauds, scatological texts, facetious literature, and lost books, among others.

His best remembered work is probably his 1880 compendium, Les Fous Littéraires (Insane Writers), written under the pseudonym Philomneste Junior.  He was, by his own admission, inspired by Charles Nodier, whom he quotes in the preface: “I dare to assert that if there is still a curious book to be written in the world of bibliography, it is the bibliography of the insane, and if there is a piquant, curious, and instructive library to be assembled, it is that of their work…  By an eccentric book, I mean a book written outside all of the known rules of composition and style, and whose purpose is impossible or very difficult to determine, if, by chance, the author had any purpose in writing it.”  Later writers have taken up the theme, among them Raymond Queneau and André Blavier, but Brunet was among the first.

The book is full of delights; here’s the first entry:


Historic Tableau of the Evils of Substitution, Voraux-Gireux (near Liège), 1809, 5 vol. in 8vo.

This work has become impossible to find following its seizure by the imperial police; of the 400 copies printed, three were sent to various officials, and two left by courtesy to the author; all of the rest were destroyed.

Born in Namur in 1748, d’Aché embraced the monastic life at the age of twenty; his mind broke down; he convinced himself that he was the Duke of Bourgogne, the elder son of the Dauphin, father of Louis XVI, and in consequence the legitimate successor of Louis XV; his younger brother was nothing but a usurper; he tells his entire story in a fashion as prolix as it is confused, and adds the story of his marriage to his niece, the daughter of Louis XVI.

D’Achet sought baptism as well as the throne of France; he requested it from everyone he met.

Quérard said a few words about this individual in his Literary Impostures Unveiled, t. II, 834, ed. G. Brunet and P. Jannet.  He is also discussed in the Essay of M. Delepierre, p. 123-128.

(Posted by Doug Skinner; all translations mine)

→ No CommentsTags: Books · Literature

Fortune Telling Cards (12)

January 20th, 2014 · No Comments


“The Secret Practices and the Tremendous Game by Mademoiselle Lenormand,” published by B. P. Grimaud, is unusually complex: 54 oversize cards, containing a wealth of graphic and divinatory information, accompanied by a 180-page book of instructions.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Card Games

Who Was Marion Kinnaird?

January 15th, 2014 · 3 Comments

In 1932, a certain Marion Kinnaird had a choice assignment: to write children’s books based on two grand old comic strips, Frederick Opper’s “Happy Hooligan” and James Swinnerton’s “Little Jimmy.”  They were published by McLoughlin Bros. in a large format (10″ x 13″), with four-color  covers and three-color interiors.  For Opper, he or she came up with a story in which Happy Hooligan and his friends, Uncle Si and Mr. Dubb, find a stray dog.  For Swinnerton, Little Jimmy dreams about a band of animal musicians.  Both stories could have been based on previously published strips, of course.

The Happy Hooligan book is labeled #281, the Little Jimmy book #284.  A bit of internet scouring comes up with two more books in the series: Little Annie Rooney’s Wishing Book (#282) and The Story of Just Kids (#283).  All four were based on King Features properties; Marion Kinnaird is credited only on the Opper and Swinnerton.

But who was Marion Kinnaird?  Further scouring yields no other books by him or her.  The name does appear in a couple of census and genealogical records.  There was a woman named Marion Kinnaird in the 1940 census, for example, identified as married, 38, and living in NYC.  Was she the one?

Here are samples of both books, taken from my own copies.  You can click on them to see them bigger,  In fact, I think you should.







(Posted by Doug Skinner; thanks to Dr. Mamie Caton for the Little Jimmy book!)

→ 3 CommentsTags: Books · Cartoons · Mysteries

Illustrations and Designs for General Use

January 6th, 2014 · 4 Comments

Happy New Year!  I’ll get started with a few pages from Illustrations and Designs for General Use, published by Speed-O-Print in 1944.  It’s a box containing a hundred sheets of artwork, to be traced for stencil duplication.  There are many graphic delights on those pages; here are three examples.  As always, please click to enlarge.




(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 4 CommentsTags: Ephemera

Bulletin (26)

December 30th, 2013 · No Comments

I do hope that all who read this attend my birthday show, January 3, 9 pm, at the Jalopy Theater.  To mark the occasion, I will present a program of my songs and instrumental music; joining me will be David Gold on viola, Ralph Hamperian on Tuba, and Doug Roesch on guitar.

There is a review of my translation of How I Became an Idiot, by “Francisque Sarcey” (that is, Alphonse Allais, writing under the name of a notoriously reactionary theater critic), over here.

For those of you who missed my reading from my translation of Allais’s Captain Cap, videos have been posted here and here.

And if you didn’t get a copy of Cap in your stocking, you can order one from Amazon, or pick up a copy at Spoonbill and Sugartown, in Williamsburg.


(Posted by Doug Skinner; photo by Phyllis Capello.)

→ No CommentsTags: Bulletins

Beware the Bull

December 22nd, 2013 · 2 Comments


The holidays are upon us.  Be careful.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 2 CommentsTags: Animals · Belief Systems

Fortune Telling Cards (11)

December 20th, 2013 · 1 Comment


“Dimija Solitaire,” published in 1953 by Lalla Maples, of Brookhaven, GA, added interpretations to a standard deck of playing cards.  It also came with an instructional booklet, and with the rules for the game of Dimija.  The name itself is not explained.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ 1 CommentTags: Card Games

A Word From Black Scat Books

December 10th, 2013 · No Comments

My publisher, Black Scat Books, has passed along this reminder for the holiday season.  My illustrated translation of Alphonse Allais’s Captain Cap will chase away Seasonally Affected Depression.  You can find a copy on Amazon; New Yorkers who prefer brick and mortar can obtain a copy at Spoonbill & Sugartown, in Williamsburg.


(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Books

Fortune Telling Cards (10)

December 6th, 2013 · No Comments


The ever-popular “Gypsy Witch” cards, from the U. S. Playing Card Co., added naive illustrations, and, of course, interpretations, to a standard deck.  The pig here is obviously enjoying its luck, abundance, and honors.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)


→ No CommentsTags: Card Games

Bulletin (25)

December 2nd, 2013 · No Comments

As is my custom, I will be celebrating my birthday at the Jalopy Theater next month.  On Friday, January 3, you can hear a program of my songs and instrumental music, with David Gold on viola, Ralph Hamperian on tuba, Doug Roesch on guitar, and me on vocals, uke, and piano.

More books are forthcoming from Black Scat Books.  In the pipeline now are:

The Unknown Adjective, and Other Stories: a collection of my comics and picture stories.

Merde à la Belle Époque: a collection of scatological poems and stories from the heyday of boho Paris, with gastro-intestinal hijinks from Alphonse Allais, George Auriol, Georges Courteline, Edmond Haraucourt, Vincent Hyspa, Maurice MacNab, and Erik Satie, in my annotated translations.

Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais: a collection of short plays and monologues by the incomparable Allais, in, again, my translation.

I’ll also be contributing a translation of Jules Moy’s 1897 monologue “The Unicolorist” to an upcoming issue of The Black Scat Review.

Let me remind you, as well, that my massive (370 pages!) illustrated, annotated translation of Allais’s Captain Cap: His Adventures, His Ideas, His Drinks is available from Black Scat Books.  You can still obtain the limited edition chapbooks of Captain Cap, Volumes 2, 3, and 4; the first is now out of print.  And my edition of Allais’s tasteless mockery of the conservative critic Francisque Sarcey, How I Became an Idiot, is still to be had as well.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

→ No CommentsTags: Uncategorized