The Arthritic Grasshopper: Collected Stories, 1934-1944
By Gisèle Prassinos. Introduction and translation by Bonnie Ruberg, Henry Vale. Illustrations by Allan Kausch.
First discovered, celebrated and published by the Surrealists at the age of 14 (they declared her the “new Alice”), Gisèle Prassinos quickly found herself established in the literary world as a fount of automatic tales freighted with transgressive humor and a pervading sense of threatened feminine identity. “Gisèle Prassinos’ tone is unique,” claimed André Breton, “all the poets are jealous of it. Swift lowers his eyes, Sade shuts his candy box.” The Arthritic Grasshopper and Other Tales gathers together all of her literary prose from 1934 to 1944, an assortment of anxious dream tales drawn from journals and plaquettes, introduced and illustrated by such admirers as Paul Éluard, Man Ray and Hans Bellmer. The 72 stories include such longer, novella-length tales as “Sondue,” “The Executioner” and “The Dream.”Gisèle Prassinos (1920–2015) was born in Istanbul of a Greek father and an Italian mother. One summer day at the age of 13 and in a fit of boredom, she began to compose short absurdist vignettes, filling up pages of paper with tales of sarcastic stains, arrogant hair and liquid frogs. Her first collection was published in 1935, with a preface by Paul Éluard and a frontispiece portrait by Man Ray. With World War II, Prassinos stopped publishing, but in 1954 she returned to literature with a series of novels and stories still imbued with a Surrealist sensibility.