Petrus Borel in Africa

January 7, 2010

Petrus Borel

Petrus Borel, the Lycanthrope (wolfman) of French decadence. Mentioned in Breton’s Black Humor. In 1850s Borel gave up literature and went to Algeria. There he built a gothic castle and worked as a colonial officer until he was removed, allegedly for sending in statistical reports written in verse! All around good guy, was trying to find a picture of his castle but only found a couple of boring mentions in colonial reports. This might be because of the dispute between google and France about copyright on French published books; merde!

Dictionnaire universel des contemporains 1858

M. Borel a abandonné la littérature; il est aujourd’hui inspecteur de la colonisation à Mostaganem.

Almanach national 1850
listed as Inspectuer, 3rd class

Almanach national 1854
listed as Inspectuer, 2nd class

couple of mentions in regards to cotton and henna cultivation:

Itinéraire historique et descriptif de l’Algérie 1862

L’Algérie et les colonies françaises 1877

Family coat of arms



W.R. Newbold in Popular Science

December 20, 2009

Series of 12 articles by William Romaine Newbold for Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly, the grandfather of today’s Popular Science.

Newbold was a professor of philosphy at University of Pennsylvania, these articles reflect is interest in psychical research. He activitly carried out experiments involving hypnotic suggestion; you have to marvel at a time when a philosphy professor would carry out experimental philosophy using hypnosis.

Skeptical but without being a douchebag like modern skeptics, he nevertheless reaches very modern conclusions about the phenomena in question. Suggestibility as a root cause, doubts about existence of the subconscience, though from a philosphical rather then scientific basis. He questions the subconscience as a revival of the old theory of the soul, rather then as an unverifiable hypothesis. All in all very good reads, particularly when reading some of the other theorists at the time.

The links are for the scanned bound editions from libraries (which are downloadable), the issues from following this link are single month, no index and not downloadable. Which is odd because they are all public domain.

The bound volumes run from November to April of following year, it gets confusing correalating a month/year to a volume.

Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly vol 48

Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly vol 49

Appleton’s Popular Science Monthly vol 50

André Breton, inspecteur des Eaux et Forêts

December 17, 2009

Some early mentions of André Breton in english journals, mostly about Paris Dada:

Poet Lore xxxiii 1922
The Life and Deeds of Dada

The Free Man iv Sept 1921
Dada is Dead

The Arts Dec 1920
Art Activities in Post War Paris

Poetry xvii 1920 -1
The Disciples of Gertrude Stein

Interesting in that it claims French modernism has its roots in Gertrude Stein and not the other way around, who knew?

Other poets of similar inspiration are Ph. Soupault, Louis Aragon, Andre Breton, Raymond Radiguet, Gabrielle Buffet, J. Perez Jorba, Pierre Albert Birot, Paul Dermee and Celine Arnauld. I know nothing of them beyond their works. It is noticeable that the style of these ladies and gentlemen, so obscure in their poetry, is comparatively limpid in their advertisements; their names are also easy to read.

Americans, who believe with me that literature is something more than a series of little jokes, “leg-pullings,” “astonishing the grocers,” and so on, must forgive me for throwing the ultimate responsibility for this “new art” upon America. Perhaps Italy, with Marinetti, should bear some of the blame, but Tender Buttons and America are the real parents.

Speaking of americans if your french isn’t that good you can find all kinds of stuff. Apparently a precocious 11 year old Breton was attending seances with a strange delphi cult:

Bulletin By Académie delphinale 1907
Séance du 22 novembre 1907
a M. André Breton, inspecteur des Forêts in attendence

Séance du 6 décembre 1907
apparently a promotion:
André Breton, inspecteur des Eaux et Forêts

Gérard de Nerval

December 14, 2009

Gérard de Nerval

Everything I have read about Nerval state that he killed himself out of dispare, madness, failure, etc. But two articles I found are first I have heard of him being murdered. Also the fact that he was buried in consecrated grounds would mean that he wasn’t considered a suicide by the church either. Much less dramatic then a tortured poet killing himself, but actually more inspiring that he didn’t give up.

Contemporary obituary, questions his suicide

Harper’s magazine 1855

short French article, claims that he was murdered by criminals who thought he was a police officer

La Tradition 1888

French biography with lots of images

Gérard de Nerval, le poète, l’homme

strange little pamplet with some pictures. haven’t found many pamplets in google books:

Gérard de Nerval: prosateur et poète

Jenny Colon

couple of articles about Jenny Colon, neither mention Nerval so its nice to see her as something other then just his muse

The New monthly magazine 1829

The Polar star 1830