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

 

$12.95 / trade paperback, 218 pp.

 

 

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