I AM SARCEY
by Alphonse Allais
Translated by Doug Skinner
Francisque Sarcey was the most influential drama critic in 1890s Paris — and the most conservative. He famously dismissed Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi as "a filthy fraud that deserves nothing but the silence of contempt." The brilliant humorist Alphonse Allais transformed Sarcey into an Ubuesque piñata in a series of columns, published under Sarcey's name, in the newspaper Le Chat Noir. The pseudo-Sarcey became a prattling idiot, bragging about his appetite and complaining about his impotence, a memorable comic character who often eclipsed the original. This sustained journalistic prank — compiled and translated by Doug Skinner — is destined to become a classic of black humor.
"...A terrific running joke involves Sarcey 1) bragging about how he no longer writes any of the other columns that bear his name, meaning those written by the “real” Sarcey, having handed them off to ghostwriters like a butcher from his neighborhood, and 2) complaining about people writing fraudulent columns, filled with the grossest stupidities, as if they are by him. Sometimes Allais seems so stunned by the “real” Sarcey’s genuine idiocies that he has trouble inventing fake idiocies.
I suppose these pieces benefit from more notes than usual, more identification of newspaper and Bohemians and so on. Skinner’s notes are themselves amusing and surprising, so this is hardly a problem. But Allais’s Sarcey becomes plump and lifelike without much extra help." —Wuthering Expectations
"Absurdism in all its glory....Anyone who wants to learn invaluable information about Sarcey’s love for young women, the weather at the end of the 19th century (which seems surprisingly similar to that of today), his love of food (and doubtful vegetarianism) or his beloved umbrella, is highly advised to read I AM SARCEY." —Edith Doove
"...the unexpected is suddenly present, and there is rudeness, as well as a savagery of attack that we simply can't imagine anyone doing to any well-known columnist of today and getting away with it." —Jeff Bursey
$12.95 / trade paperback, 218 pp.