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Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers. Has no one read your books? You are in good company.

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These writers are famous in some part of the internet or the world. Some may be famous in your own family or in your own mind.

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Posts tagged france

nyrbclassics:

Félix Fénéon’s marker at the columbarium in Père Lachaise cemetery.

Fénéon lived until 1944?! Somehow I can’t imagine Seurat’s first champion living straight through Cubism, Expressionism, Surrealism, etc. (not to mention all the fighting). I wonder what kind of car he drove.

Thanks to Luc Sante and NYRB Classics, people are reading his “Novels in Three Lines" (don’t forget Joanna Neborsky’s illustrated version), but not much of his criticism made it into English. [Steven Heller on Three Lines: “In 1906, suspected terrorist, anarchist, and literary instigator Félix Fénéon wrote more than a thousand small bits for the Paris newspaper Le Matin. Each was a bizarre yet enigmatic, fragmentary, often scandalous, report.”]

The 1940s Gallimard collection of his work seems to be out-of-print. Ditto the 2-volume 1970 “more than complete” collection from Droz, all 1088 pages of it.

Sample Three Line: “The sinister prowler seen by the mechanic Gicquel near Herblay train station has been identified: Jules Menard, snail collector.” 

Bio by Michael Richardson: “The entry of Gisèle Prassinos (born 1920) into the Surrealist circle at the age of 14 has gained a legendary status. Born into what had been a wealthy and cultured Greek family which was forced to move to France to avoid persecution during hostilities between Greece and Turkey when Gisèle was only two (her father had to sell his library of 100,000 books to pay for the journey), she grew up in a difficult but stimulating environment that is reflected in her work. Aside from her novels, stories and poems, she also creates objects, particularly in fabric, and has translated Kazantzakis into French.”

Texts in English (at least the ones I could round up in my collection):

11 pages plus a 2-page bio by J. H. Matthews in his Custom House of Desire: A Half-Century of Surrealist Stories: “Blackday,” “The Three-branched Tree,” “The Maniac Fire,” “The Big Bank Check,” “The Wool Dress.”

The Dedalus Book of Surrealism: The Identity of Things, ed. Michael Richardson: “The King’s Ostlers” (2 pages) and “The Man” (7 pages) 

The Myth of the World: Surrealism 2, ed. Michael Richardson: “Sondue” (16 pages)

Surrealist Women: An International Anthology, ed. Penelope Rosemont: 3 very short texts: “Arrogant Hair,” “The Ghost of Chateuabriand,” “Peppermint Tower in Praise of Greedy Little Girls” (Homage to Hans Bellmer)

A footnote in Surrealist Women: “Prassinos is represented in the ‘Double Surrealist Number’ of the English journal Contemporary Prose and Poetry in 1936 and in Julien Levy’s Surrealism (New York, 1936).”

brief wikipedia entry

No one reads Valery Larbaud (1881–1957).

From the back cover of The Poems of A. O. Barnabooth:

In 1908 a small volume of poetry was published in Paris by an unknown author named A. O. Barnabooth—who in fact did not exist. Only after the book received favorable reviews by major French writers and critics did its real author, Valery Larbaud, step forward to claim Barnabooth as his alter ego. The revised and expanded 1913 edition of the book, with Larbaud credited as its author, has become a classic, eventually being included in the esteemed Pleiade series of books devoted to great French writers and has remained in print in France for almost 100 years now. 

In English (Amazon US links):
The Diary of A. O. Barnabooth
The Poems of A. O. Barnabooth
Fermina Marquez
An Homage to Jerome: Patron Saint of Translators 

Image: Alexandra Grinevsky for Larbaud’s “Deux Artistes Lyriques” (1929), more here

No One Reads Marcel Béalu

Author of The Experience of the Night.

A personal fave book (of both of us), submitted by Michael Cisco.

Wikipedia entry

No one reads Marcel Aymé, who Simenon called “the greatest French writer of the day.” Image by Bohumil Stepan for a Czech edition of The Green Mare.

Amazon links to books in English, though only one in print at the moment:

Raymond Queneau

"His thoughts were hemmed in. One can only draw curved lines on the terrestrial sphere which, as they extend, forever meet with themselves. At such intersections we always encounter what we have already seen." - Queneau (via Frenchtwist)

(For more Queneau see, for example, this conversation at the Review of Contemporary Fiction or his One Hundred Thousand Billion Sonnets.

Edmond Jabès: Few Read Him, More Should

I discovered Edmond Jabès’ The Book of Questions  serendipitously. The son of wealthy Egyptian Jews, Jabès’ earliest literary friendships were with Max Jacob, Paul Eluard, and Rene Char.

The Book of Questions is the story of two young lovers during the Nazi deportations; not using any traditional narrative, it speaks of Jewishness, silence, dispossession, and writing.

As explained:

There seems nothing strange about the fact that ancient rabbis can converse with a contemporary writer, that images of stunning beauty can stand beside descriptions of the greatest devastation, or that the visionary and the commonplace can co-exist on the same page. From the very beginning, when the reader encounters the writer at the threshold of the book, we know that we are entering a space unlike any other.” - Paul Auster

And:

In the last ten years nothing of interest has been written in France that does not have its precedent somewhere in the texts of Jabès.” - Jacques Derrida, 1972

Few read him, more should.

Submitted by aperfectcommotion.

No One Reads Violette Leduc

[SUBMITTED BY http://dailykvetch.tumblr.com/]

I came across Violette Leduc's Mad in Pursuit in a used bookshop, and bought it due to the mention of Simone de Beauvoir on the back jacket. I then found La Bâtarde at my university’s bookstore. Maybe she’s taught in a French Authors in Translation there; I didn’t investigate. I was just happy to find the book. But I’ve never seen her mentioned anywhere, and I’ve never heard anyone else reference her.

No one reads Marcel Schwob. (Three old posts on 50 Watts.)

Solar Books put out an edition of Imaginary Lives in 2009, though it seems to already be hard to find in the US.

The King in the Golden Mask is long out-of-print, as is The Book of Monelle, last printed in 1929.

No one reads Jean Cocteau. (Though admittedly he’s a Jackie Collins compared to some of the authors featured here.) Image via bookvart.

No one reads Jacques Rigaut.

Jacques Rigaut, 1922 -by Man Ray
[Rigaut (1898-1929) was a french writer, he acted in the Man Ray’s movie Emak Bakia (1926) with Kiki and Rose Wheeler]
via CP

No one reads Jacques Rigaut.

Jacques Rigaut, 1922 -by Man Ray

[Rigaut (1898-1929) was a french writer, he acted in the Man Ray’s movie Emak Bakia (1926) with Kiki and Rose Wheeler]

via CP

(via yama-bato)

No one reads Jules Renard.

In English:

No one reads Roland Topor. (Cover, long out-of-print Stories and Drawings, Peter Owen, 1968.)

No one reads Pierre Mabille.

Mabille, Pierre (1904-52), was veritable polymath: surgeon,  sociologist, active Surrealist from 1934; French cultural attaché in Haiti and first director of the  French Institute there (1945); art critic, student of alchemy,  astrology, and voodoo. He taught at the École d’Anthropologie and the  Faculty of Medicine in Paris (1949-51). As a Surrealist, his most  important book is Le Miroir du merveilleux (1940), a wide-ranging  and critical anthology. As a thinker, his profession of faith is found  in La Construction de l’homme (1936). His desire for a synthesis  of different branches of knowledge is revealed in Égrégores ou la Vie  des civilisations and La Conscience lumineuse (1938). He  also published a psychoanalytical-cum-sociological study, Thérèse de  Lisieux (1937).via

In English and highly recommended: The Mirror of the Marvelous

No one reads Pierre Mabille.

Mabille, Pierre (1904-52), was veritable polymath: surgeon, sociologist, active Surrealist from 1934; French cultural attaché in Haiti and first director of the French Institute there (1945); art critic, student of alchemy, astrology, and voodoo. He taught at the École d’Anthropologie and the Faculty of Medicine in Paris (1949-51). As a Surrealist, his most important book is Le Miroir du merveilleux (1940), a wide-ranging and critical anthology. As a thinker, his profession of faith is found in La Construction de l’homme (1936). His desire for a synthesis of different branches of knowledge is revealed in Égrégores ou la Vie des civilisations and La Conscience lumineuse (1938). He also published a psychoanalytical-cum-sociological study, Thérèse de Lisieux (1937).via

In English and highly recommended: The Mirror of the Marvelous

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