Alphonse Allais’s Absurd “Affair”!

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Adapted to film four times, “L’Affaire Blaireau” has remained popular and in print in France since its original appearance in 1899. This is its first publication in English. It is humorist Alphonse Allais’s only novel and, in the words of translator Doug Skinner: “It isn’t quite as wild or cruel as his early stories, but I find it delicious anyway. Summer in the provinces, the shrewd but impressionable Blaireau, futile political squabbles, a ridiculous but charming love story, what more could one want? And innocence is rewarded!”

Here’s a taste from Chapter I:

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THE BLAIREAU AFFAIR is a rare find to be savored by the author’s growing circle of fans in America.

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About the author:
ALPHONSE ALLAIS (1854 – 1905) began his career in Paris during the Belle Epoque. He was particularly active at the legendary cabaret Le Chat Noir, where he wrote for and edited the weekly paper. He quickly became known for his deadpan wit and inexhaustible imagination. Among other things, he also exhibited some of the first monochromatic pictures (such as his all-white “First Communion of Chlorotic Girls in the Snow” in 1883) and composed the first silent piece of music: “Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man” (1884).

He was a crucial influence on Alfred Jarry, as well as on the Surrealists: Breton included him in his ANTHOLOGY OF BLACK HUMOR, and Duchamp was reading him on the day he died. Allais’s fascination with wordplay, puns, and holorhymes led Oulipo to call him an “anticipatory plagiarist”; the Pataphysical College dubbed him their “Patacessor.” His books have remained in print in France, and the Académie Alphonse Allais has awarded a literary prize in his honor since 1954.

Surprise!

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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 Oulipians. Celebrate the master’s birthday with mirth, mischief, and cocktails!

And one of his sublime books translated by Doug Skinner, from Black Scat, of course.

The Blaireau Affair

Captain Cap: His Adventures, His Ideas, His Drinks

Selected Plays of Alphonse Allais

Masks

The Squadron’s Umbrella

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“To leave is to die a little, but to die is to leave a lot.” –-Alphonse Allais

Cheers!

Theatre of the Absurd—Opening Night!

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“Witkiewicz takes up and continues the vein of dream and grotesque fantasy exemplified by the late Strindberg or by Wedekind; his ideas are closely paralleled by those of the surrealists and Antonin Artaud which culminated in the masterpieces of the dramatists of the absurd—Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, Arrabal—of the late nineteen forties and the nineteen fifties.” -Martin Esslin

Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz  (pen name: Witkacy) was desperate to get out of revolutionary St. Petersburg after the Bolsheviks seized power. Back in Poland, eager to make money and a name for himself, Witkacy began to write plays in a style that he called “Pure Form,” which foreshadowed the Theatre of the Absurd. By the time that he wrote VAHAZAR (1921), Witkacy had achieved a dreamlike dramaturgy:  centered on the paranoid and crazed despot, Vahazar, and spiraling outwards through an anthill society of automatons, religious cults, and quack scientific and social theories, this play is about being trapped in nothingness.

This translation of the play by Celina Wieniewska was commissioned by Stefan Themerson in 1967, and later announced as a forthcoming title by the legendary Gaberbocchus Press. Somehow the project was sidetracked and has never appeared until this Black Scat Books publication. Paul Rosheim, publisher of Obscure Publications and scholar of Themersonia, provides a sublime introduction with biographical information about Witkacy and the story of this translation. The book also includes an appendix featuring Franciszka Themerson’s “Vahazar: A Few Suggestions for Design.”

“…Witkiewicz, Bruno Schulz and myself, the three musketeers of the Polish avant-garde.” —Witold Gombrowicz

Available now on Amazon in the U.S. and Europe.

Click here to order this masterpiece of the absurd.

 

 

 

Alphonse Rides Again!

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original-edOn July 4, 2012, we published Alphonse Allais’s MASKS in a limited edition of 50 copiesthe first title in our Absurdist Texts & Documents series. The chapbook quickly sold out and, today, is a coveted collector’s item. Since we’ve received many requests to reprint the book, we’re pleased to announce a revised and expanded edition. Translated from the French, adapted and illustrated by Norman Conquest, this new volume also features a most Allaisian introduction & notes on the text by the great Doug Skinner. Originally published in France under the title Un drame bien parisien (1890), this darkly humorous tale is quintessential Allaisa pataphysical text admired by the Surrealists (André Breton included it in his seminal Anthologie de l’humour noir). It was also celebrated by the French group Oulipo, and has been the subject of scholarly studies by the writer and semiotician Umberto Eco, Francis Corblin, and others. excerpt This is the first illustrated edition of this mini masterpiece. If you missed out on our first edition, now’s you chance to own a copy. MASKS Alphonse Allais Translation & illustrations by Norman Conquest With an introduction & notes on the text by Doug Skinner Absurdist Texts & Documents No. 1 Revised  & Expanded Second Edition 50 pp., perfect-bound; illustrated; Special limited launch price:  $12.00    (*$14 after June 4th)

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BLACK SCAT REVIEW 11—Now Available!

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New format, new size, new design PLUS a boatload of great artists and writers: Alphonse Allais, Nika Baum,Sandra Boersma, S. C. Delaney, Tony Duvert, Margie Franzen, William L. Gibson, Kristien Hemmerechts, Andy Koopmans, Richard Kostelanetz, Terri Lloyd, Happy Nightmares, L T O’Rourke, Derek Pell, Bobby Phillips, Agnès Potier, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Nelly Sanchez, Doug Skinner, Mark Stewart, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Carla M. Wilson.  116 pages of sublime art and lit.

BLACK SCAT REVIEW is an international magazine of the arts unlike any other. Issue #11 includes translations of exciting work by Kristien Hemmerechts, Tony Duvert, and Alphonse Allais.

Available now direct from our printer –  CLICK HERE

Or from Amazon worldwide

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BSR #11 is almost here…

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BLACK SCAT REVIEW  has a new look, a new size, and a new format.
Available as a trade paperback in the U.S. and Europe.

FEATURING Alphonse Allais, Sandra Boersma, S. C. Delaney, Tony Duvert, Margie Franzen, William L. Gibson, Kristien Hemmerechts, Andy Koopmans, Richard Kostelanetz, Terri Lloyd, Happy Nightmares, L T O’Rourke, Derek Pell, Bobby Phillips, Agnès Potier, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Nelly Sanchez, Doug Skinner, Mark Stewart, Yuriy Tarnawsky, and Carla M. Wilson.

116 pp.
perfect-bound, illustrated, full color
US Trade Paper edition, 5.06″ x 7.81″
$18.00

 ON SALE NOW

Venus Rising

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FIRST AMERICAN EDITION OF THE CONTROVERSIAL FRENCH NOVEL

Bored with her life in a quiet, French coastal town and desperate for excitement, Emma sends out a prayer to the Angel of Happenings. When she meets Gabriel, an enigmatic Parisian photographer, her wish appears to have come true, until she finds herself drawn into an intimate world of erotic temptations, obsession and danger.


ANGEL---FIRST-EDITION (1)Angel of Everything
by Catherine D’Avis, translated from the French by Kenneth D. Fletcher. This short novel originally appeared in Paris (L’ange de toutes choses: 2012 Published under the pseudonymous initials “C.A.,” the controversial work received favorable reviews, as well as condemnation. Ms. D’Avis’s writing has been compared to the novelist Marguerite Duras.

 
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LISTEN TO CATHERINE D’AVIS READ AN EXCERPT FROM HER NOVEL


catherine_d_smlCatherine D’Avis was born in Paris to French parents but grew up in the South-West of England. She studied dance at the Boston Conservatory and worked in an art gallery in New York for several years. She now lives in a quiet suburb of Paris with her artist husband and their three cats. She spends her days teaching dance classes, working with ceramics and writing fiction. A collection of her short stories, Erotic Tales, will soon be available from New Urge Editions.

 Kenneth D. Fletcher lives in Boston, where he works as a freelance writer, translator and critic. His translations include novels and poetry by Julien Gracq. He is currently translating Catherine D’Avis’s stories, Contes érotiques.

 


 

A Holiday Gift for You!

Here’s a treat for the holidays — an advance excerpt from Alphonse Allais’s THE SQUADRON’S UMBRELLA (Le parapluie de l’escouade)a collection of 39 humorous texts never before published in English, and translated from the French by Doug Skinner. We hope you enjoy.

HALLUCINATION

The Easter holiday was favored with exceptional weather. On Sunday and Monday, numerous Parisians took advantage of it to travel, with their families, into the country.

The amount of ham and cold veal that they consumed, on the grass, was practically prodigious.

The Journal’s record keepers, assigned specially to this statistic, report a truly extraordinary result: 740,000 tons! A number which, we believe, has not been equalled since the summer of 1879.

Continue reading

Behind the Scenes

ANGEL---FIRST-EDITION

The erotic novel L’ange de toutes choses originally appeared in a small press edition in Paris in 2012. Published under the pseudonymous initials “C.A.,” the work received favorable reviews as well as the usual condemnation reserved for works in this arena. (Despite its enlightened reputation, France today is surprisingly puritanical.) The author, Catherine D’Avis, has been compared to Marguerite Duras and Emmanuelle Arsan (Marayat Rollet-Andriane).

Black Scat Books is proud to publish the first American edition of Angel of Everything by Catherine D’Avis—translated from the French by Kenneth D. Fletcher—as the first title under our New Urge Editions imprint. (For additional information Visit the NU blog at newurgeeditions.wordpress.com

Publication : January,  2015.

NEWANGEL

 

cover photograph © L’Agence Gaubert