Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Arrivals: Two from Wakefield Press

Hugo Ball, Flametti
Illustrated by Tal R

“The idea of the Cabaret Voltaire grew out of literary thoughts as well as the slum atmosphere of the music-hall performers, the singers, the magicians, fire-eaters, and others portrayed by Ball in his novel Flametti.”—Richard Huelsenbeck
In 1916, Hugo Ball (1886–1927) cofounded the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich and penned the “Dada Manifesto,” launching what would become the Zurich Dada movement. That same year he completed his semi-autobiographical novel, Flametti, or The Dandyism of the Poor, which would be published two years later. Drawing from his pre-Dada period of struggle and poverty in the nightclub circuit, Ball immerses us in the rise and fall of Max Flametti and his vaudeville company. Fishing in the local river to feed his company, dabbling in drugs, strolling through the vegetable market on the Gemüsebrücke in Zurich, ducking into a side street to avoid running into the police, Flametti marches through the pages of Ball’s novel passionately pursuing a career that culminates in the presentation of the theatrical extravaganza The Indians at the Krokodil in Zurich (a locale that still exists today as a Spanish restaurant). Overcoming odds and alternately averting, succumbing to and embracing financial ruin, Flametti ultimately emerges as a tragic figure—a Willy Loman of vaudeville. Flametti portrays a frenetic Zurich that had been the backdrop to the Dada movement, and is comparable to other such literary cities and eras as Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin." _Wakefield Press

Hugo Ball (1886–1927) founded the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916, a year after moving there with his wife, Emmy Hennings. In doing so, he helped launch (and according to some accounts, named) the Dada Movement. After authoring one of the first Dada manifestos and some landmark sound poems, he grew disenchanted with how Dada was evolving, broke ties with the movement and relocated to the Swiss countryside with Hennings, where he wrote one of the first studies on the work of Hermann Hesse. 
“Hugo Ball, the co-founder of Dadaism and co-initiator of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916, was, alongside Franz Kafka, the most significant German-language vaudeville existentialist… In his 1918 novel Flametti, or The Dandyism of the Poor, he assembles a pandemonium of marginal figures from the sideshow and circus milieus and has a speaker declare that these people are truer humans than the ordinary citizens who seemingly manage to keep to the middle. The vaudeville people know more about ‘real life’ because they are those who have been thrown to the margins, the fallen and the battered. These ‘jostled humans’ are perhaps the only ones who still exist authentically.”—Peter Sloterdijk

Pierre Louÿs, Pybrac
Illustrated by Toyen 
 "In turns amusing and offensive, Pierre Louÿs’ Pybrac is possibly the filthiest collection of poetry ever published, and offers a taste of what the Marquis de Sade might have produced if he had ever turned his hand to verse. First published posthumously in 1927, Pybrac was, with The Young Girl’s Handbook of Good Manners, one of the first of Louÿs’ secret erotic manuscripts to see clandestine publication. Composed of 313 rhymed alexandrine quatrains, the majority of them starting with the phrase “I do not like to see…,” Pybrac is in form a mockery of sixteenth-century chancellor poet Guy Du Faur, Seigneur de Pibrac, whose moralizing quatrains were common literary fare for young French readers until the nineteenth century. Louÿs spent his life coming up with his own evergrowing collection of rhymed moral precepts (suitable only for adult readers): a dizzying litany describing everything he disliked witnessing, from lesbianism, sodomy, incest, and prostitution to perversions extreme enough to give even a modern reader pause. With the rest of his erotic manuscripts, the original collection of over 2,000 quatrains was auctioned off and scattered throughout private collections; but like everything erotic, what remains collected here conveys an impression of unending absurdity and near hypnotic obsession."-Wakefield Press

Pierre Louÿs (1870–1925) was a best-selling author in his time, and a friend of and influence on such luminaries as André Gide, Paul Valéry, Oscar Wilde, and Stephane Mallarmé. He achieved instant notoriety with Aphrodite and The Songs of Bilitis, and his 1898 novel The Woman and the Puppet has been adapted for the screen in such noteworthy films as Josef von Sternberg’s The Devil Is a Woman and Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire. But it was only after his death that his true legacy was to be uncovered: nearly nine hundred pounds of erotic manuscripts were discovered in his home, all of them immediately scattered among collectors and many lost. The body of work that has since been gathered—manuscripts continue to be discovered—leaves little doubt: Louÿs is the greatest French writer of erotica there ever was.

“Louÿs entered eroticism the way others enter politics or religion”—Jean-Paul Goujon
“One of the great and glorious erotomaniacs of the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth”—André Pieyre de Mandiargues

These books, and thousands of others, can be purchased from:

Brickbat Books
709 South Fourth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

215 592 1207

Tuesday: thru Saturday, 11am to 7pm
Sunday: 11am to 6pm
Closed Monday

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