ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 8/1/2016

California Surfing and Climbing in the Fifties, Wendy Wagner and Tom Carlin Kaena Point

DATE 7/31/2016

Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction

DATE 7/29/2016

Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction

DATE 7/28/2016

Alexander Girard: A Designer's Universe, Braniff flight attendants

DATE 7/27/2016

Alexander Girard: A Designer's Universe, Miller House

DATE 7/26/2016

Mary Heilmann: Looking at Pictures, Primalon Ballroom

DATE 7/26/2016

Hannah Höch: Life Portrait, A Collaged Autobiography

DATE 7/25/2016

Mary Heilmann: Looking at Pictures, Taste of Honey

DATE 7/25/2016

Hannah Höch: Life Portrait

DATE 7/24/2016

Save up to 30% at the ARTBOOK @ Swiss Institute Last Day Sale!

DATE 7/23/2016

Ed Templeton: Wayward Cognitions Huntington Beach USA

DATE 7/21/2016

Separate Cinema: The First 100 Years of Black Poster Art, Josephine Baker

DATE 7/20/2016

The 2001 File: Harry Lange and the Design of the Landmark Science Fiction Film

DATE 7/20/2016

Visit Park Life & ARTBOOK | D.A.P. at the Inaugural SF Art Book Fair

DATE 7/19/2016

Billy Name, 1940-2016

DATE 7/19/2016

The 1960s: Photographed by David Hurn

DATE 7/19/2016

Wayne Koestenbaum 'Notes on Glaze' Reading & Launch at 192 Books

DATE 7/18/2016

Brigid Berlin: Polaroids

DATE 7/18/2016

WELCOME REEL ART PRESS! An Interview with Tony Nourmand

DATE 7/17/2016

Sophie Calle: True Stories, Obituary

DATE 7/16/2016

Sophie Calle: True Stories

DATE 7/16/2016

Find our books at Park Life during the inaugural SF Art Book Fair, July 22-24!

DATE 7/15/2016

Sophie Calle: True Stories

DATE 7/14/2016

Seeing Things: A Kid's Guide to Looking at Photographs by Joel Meyerowitz, Edouard Boubat Lella

DATE 7/13/2016

Seeing Things: A Kid's Guide to Looking at Photographs, Bruce Davidson

DATE 7/12/2016

June Leaf: Thought Is Infinite

DATE 7/11/2016

Gus Van Sant: Icons, Michael Pitt Last Days

DATE 7/10/2016

Gus Van Sant: Icons, River Phoenix by Bruce Weber

DATE 7/9/2016

Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, Women with Bulldog

DATE 7/8/2016

Francis Picabia: Our Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction, Udnie

DATE 7/6/2016

Georgia O'Keeffe: Watercolors, Stieglitz portrait

DATE 7/6/2016

Georgia O'Keeffe: Watercolors, Mountain painting No. 22 - Special

DATE 7/6/2016

Parkett 98 Launch Event with Mika Rottenberg & Nikki Columbus at Swiss Institute!

DATE 7/5/2016

Georgia O'Keeffe: Watercolors, Evening Star

DATE 7/4/2016

Maude Schuyler Clay: Mississippi History, Anna and Schuyler with fireworks

DATE 7/3/2016

Cape Cod Modern, Marcel Breuer Stillman House

DATE 7/2/2016

Cape Cod Modern: Mid-Century Architecture and Community on the Outer Cape

DATE 7/1/2016

Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné

DATE 6/30/2016

Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, Landscape near Malabata, Tangier

DATE 6/30/2016

Carrie Mae Weems Book Launch at the Strand

DATE 6/29/2016

Francis Bacon: Catalogue Raisonné, Jet of Water

DATE 6/28/2016

Jean Tinguely: Retrospective

DATE 6/27/2016

Peter Fischli and David Weiss: Flowers and Mushrooms

DATE 6/27/2016

City of Angels

DATE 6/26/2016

Tom Bianchi: Fire Island Pines, Polaroids 1975-1983

DATE 6/26/2016

Alvin Baltrop: The Piers

DATE 6/25/2016

Bettina Rheims: Gender Studies

DATE 6/25/2016

Jimmy DeSana: Suburban, Untitled Stockings

DATE 6/24/2016

Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Billboards

DATE 6/23/2016

Design Observer Announces 50 Books | 50 Covers 2015

DATE 6/23/2016

Greg Reynolds: Jesus Days


BOOKS IN THE MEDIA

MARC LOWENTHAL | DATE 10/16/2013

Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu

My first encounter with London's Atlas Press was in the late 1980s, when I was given a copy of David Gascoyne's translation of André Breton and Philippe Soupault's Magnetic Fields. With that book, they immediately became the first publisher I decided to trust blindly, and I've done my best to read everything they've published ever since—which hasn't always been easy, given their on-again, off-again availability in the US. With ARTBOOK | D.A.P. now distributing them this side of the waters, it's a good time to start diving back into their catalog of extremist literature—now a full 30 years' worth of forays into what they call the "anti-tradition" of the more "belligerent avant-gardes" of the last 200 years.


Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu
ABOVE: The finest known copy of the first edition. Photograph courtesy of Pierre Saunier.
Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu
And there really couldn't be a better place to start than their new release of the first English translation of the 1891 French novel, The Tutu, written by the pseudonymous "Princess Sappho" (and translated by Iain White, whose name always graces the most interesting of literary translation projects, from Marcel Schwob to Thomas Owen to Jean Ray). Among other things, The Tutu has introduced me to the fact that there was a name unknown to me in the lineage of such publishing heroes as Eric Losfeld, Barney Rosset, Régine Desforges, and other such frontline defenders of the freedom of speech: their predecessor, the enigmatic Léon Genonceaux. Apart from being the presumed personage behind the Princess Sappho nom de plume, he was also the publisher who properly introduced the work of both the infamous Comte de Lautréamont and Arthur Rimbaud to the French public. Doing so earned him legal headaches and a hefty enough fine for him to leave France before eventually disappearing from literary history altogether after 1905.

His escape from the legal proceedings over his publications also apparently led him to scrap his plans to publish The Tutu: Morals of the Fin de Siècle, just as it was coming off the press. Reading it now makes his decision understandable (even if it leaves the reason as to how the novel has languished unknown for over 100 years, with only five copies currently known to exist, a bit perplexing): The Tutu had obviously been intended to stand as the decadent novel to out-decadent all the decadents. The very pseudonym stood as a nose-tweaking to the censors (even if Genonceaux would quickly retract the tweaking once the legal troubles kicked in), as Sapphism was the theme to bring about the most legal woes upon nineteenth-century French publishers (most famously for Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal). Given that the theme is utterly absent from The Tutu, his desire to provoke by all means necessary seems clear. The novel's broader storyline, however, is actually standard bourgeois fare: a young society man (the fancifully named Mauri de Noirof) finishes his schooling, loses his virginity, seeks marriage, finds a wife, tries to build a career, and eventually finds true love after his wife dies in the midst of an adulterous affair. Our young protagonist, though, is something of a kid brother to Lautréamont's Maldoror. Our hero's true love is his own mother, who finds him a wife after refusing to sleep with him (or allow him to marry a tree); his subsequent wife the obese barrel-shaped Hermine, who consumes auto-mined snot pellets in between endless glasses of Kümmel and Chartreuse; his career the abandoned fabrication of a pneumatic train tunnel; and his own adulterous affair is with a two-headed, four-armed-and-legged carnival performer named Mani-Mini.

All of this is steeped in one of the most extraordinary soups of effluvia this reader has ever encountered: excrement, phlegm, vomit and bodily corruption reach what I'd venture to call poetic heights in these pages (with two particular heights that actually managed to make me gag). The fundament is fundamental here, and perhaps tweaking the notoriously misogynistic philosopher's nose, Genonceaux here utilizes the Schopenhauer so dear to the decadents in the form of Noirof's mother, who utters such memorable phrases as: "The most beautiful of women are only composed, chemically speaking, of the quintessence of faecal matter;" or more broadly: "The soul is no more than the ferment of matter." (A phrase arguably surpassing that of the anticipatory plagiarist Alfred Jarry, who would later write: "The soul is a tic.")

Genonceaux had obviously done more than just publish Lautréamont: he took the poet's baroque excesses to heart and with The Tutu aimed to raise the ante. (A few pages from Maldoror in fact make their way into the novel in the form of Noirof and his mother's favorite reading material, but our hero also pays his own visit to a God as debauched, if somewhat more refined, than that of Lautréamont.) Yet for all that, the novel manages to rise above being mere schoolboy antics: its writing is sharp and often quite humorous, its aims obviously satiric, the characters oddly sympathetic through their repugnance, and the pessimism almost joyous in its excesses. The book is also remarkably modern for something that was to have been published in 1891, with dialogue and narrative devices that evoked Raymond Queneau to me more than J.-K. Huysmans. (In fact, if I was to describe the novel in one sentence, it would be "Maldoror as written by Raymond Queneau.")

When I first read about this book's forthcoming publication, it had almost sounded like a literary artifact that Atlas Press would have had to invent if it hadn't existed. Now that I've read it, it still seems too good to be true: the missing, unknown link between the French fin-de-siècle and Alfred Jarry's Ubu roi and all that was to follow. This is one wild, fermented read, and deserving of attention from finer readers this fall. It has been released alongside Atlas Press' other fall title, Winter Journeys: an Oulipian collection of tales concerning the unknown Hugo Vernier—the missing-link French author who was plagiarized by everyone from Baudelaire on—who in retrospect makes for an interesting fictional colleague for Genonceaux this season.
Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu
Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu
Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu
Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu
Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu
Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The Tutu

Morals of the Fin de Siècle: Marc Lowenthal on Atlas Press' The TutuBoston based Marc Lowenthal is founder and publisher of Wakefield Press, an independent publishing house "devoted to the translation of overlooked gems and literary oddities" such as Pierre Louÿs' The Young Girl's Handbook of Good Manners for Use in Educational Establishments, René Daumal's Pataphysical Essays and Pierre Mac Orlan's Handbook for the Perfect Adventurer.

The Tutu

The Tutu

ATLAS PRESS
Hbk, 6.75 x 7.5 in. / 176 pgs / illustrated throughout.

$25.00  free shipping



ARTBOOK LOGO
 
 

the art world's source for books on art & culture

  

CUSTOMER SERVICE
orders@artbook.com
212 627 1999
M-F 9-5 EST

TRADE ACCOUNTS

800 338 2665

CONTACT

JOBS + INTERNSHIPS

NEW YORK
Showroom by Appointment Only
155 Sixth Avenue
New York NY 10013
Tel   212 627 1999

LOS ANGELES
Showroom by Appointment Only
818 S. Broadway, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel. 323 969 8985

ARTBOOK LLC
D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.


All site content Copyright C 2000-2013 by Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. and the respective publishers, authors, artists. For reproduction permissions, contact the copyright holders.

ARTBOOK AMPERSAT

The D.A.P. Catalog
www.artbook.com