November 2012 (2)
TWO NEW TITLES NOW AVAILABLE
Robert Desnos Liberty or Love! & Mourning for Mourning
Liberty or Love! & Mourning for Mourning is now available direct from us at the launch price of
£10 + p&p for orders received between now and the end of December.
This elegant new edition, in a lush and tactile hardcover with printed design, plus decorative endpapers,
collects our two earlier longer Desnos texts, long unavailable, in a newly revised edition.
This volume is the first in a projected series of new hardcover books, both reissuing out-of-print
titles and for completely new works.
Ray Galton and Alan Simpson The Rebel
Only available directly from us (although listed on Amazon), this sixth issue of the Journal of the LIP contains
the complete shooting script for the film starring Tony Hancock (titled "Call Me Genius" in the USA). No script
has been previously published, and this one contains significant variants with the film as released, including
scenes that ended up being cut. Illustrated throughout with colour reproductions of the artworks reconstructed
by the Institute for the Hancock retrospective of 2002.
Numbered limited edition of 500 copies, £15 + p&p (£11 to members). There are 44 copies signed by the
authors at £26 + p&p. By arrangement, copies can be collected from Bookartbookshop if you wish to
avoid (the now extortionate) postal charges.
NOW AVAILABLE: Grayson Perry Cycle of Violence
Cycle of Violence will be available direct from us at the launch price of £12 + p&p
for orders received between now and the end of November.
The signed and slipcased edition will be available soon. The first 20 copies to be sold will
retail for £100 + p&p, the price will rise after that.
If you are interested in one of these de luxe copies please write to
We do welcome suggestions and submissions for books that fall within our main publishing
programme: namely the avant-gardes of the last 200 years (principally in translation).
Contact the editorial address first please. Note, however, that it is almost never worth
sending us first novels (we get a lot), and poetry not at all. Atlas is a small outfit and
publishing first novels requires resources we simply don't have (a publicity department for example!).
ATLAS IN THE USA
Since our last news bulletin we have been working on setting up a publishing programme and distribution
in the USA. From Spring next year our new titles, and some of our reprinted backlist, will be distributed
by Artbook/DAP in New York (www.artbook.com) and
thus available in the better US bookshops. Most titles
will tend to be available a few months after initial publication in the UK, so the dates below are those for
This new arrangement means that we will be putting many of our out-of-print titles back into print in what
we hope are vastly improved editions. Henceforth our Anti-Classics series will be published as hardbacks with
printed covers, and many of the Arkhives will be revised and reformatted as hardbacks as well.
The first fruits of this reorganisation are described below.
NEW AND FORTHCOMING TITLES
NEW FROM ATLAS
||Hans Henny Jahnn The Living are Few, the Dead Many
This paperback in the Heteroclites series collects revised versions of some texts previously published by Atlas
("The Night of Lead" and "Kebad Kenya") and adds new ones to give a broad idea of the obsessions of this uniquely peculiar author.
LAUNCH PRICE: £9 (+ postage) on orders received before the end of October.
Raymond Roussel The Dust of Suns
Paperback reprinting of Harry Mathews' translation of Roussel's last and most enigmatic play.
LAUNCH PRICE: £7.50 (+ postage) on orders received before the end of October.
FORTHCOMING FROM ATLAS Autumn 2012:
||Grayson Perry Cycle of Violence
The definitive edition of Perry's saga of sexual violence, death, redemption and cycling. This graphic novel, originally published by us in 1992, has as its
hero an English winner of the Tour de France named Bradley…
Hardback with a new foreword by the artist.
||Robert Desnos Liberty or Love! and Mourning for Mourning
Two Surrealist novels. These two texts published together for the first time in our new hardback format for the Anti-Classics series.
FORTHCOMING FROM ATLAS IN 2013
Georges Perec and The Oulipo Winter Journeys
Perec's most famous short story, followed by sequels by members of the Oulipo, many unpublished even in French. Writing a "Winter Journey" has become a
tradition for new members of the group and this updated version of our previous edition will contain eight new stories (thus some 18 in all). Large hardback.
George Melly Don't Tell Sybil, a memoir of British Surrealism and E.L.T. Mesens
Melly's libidinous memoir with new illustrative material. Paperback.
Marcel Duchamp, Henri-Pierre Roché, Beatrice Wood Three New York Dadas and the Blindman
Includes Victor, Roché's memoir/novel of the US Dada movement and of the triangular relationship between himself, Wood and Duchamp, plus a reprint of the
magazine the three of them edited together (The Blindman), along with Wood's memoir of the period. Hardback.
René Daumal, Roger Gilbert-Lecomte (et al.) Theory of the Great Game
A selection of theoretical and literary texts from the magazine Le Grand Jeu by the group of the same name who explored poetic expression based upon
drug-induced near-death states, among other extreme experiential situations. Contemporaries of the Surrealists in '30s Paris, they refused membership
of that group so as to follow their own unique path. Hardback.
Princess Sappho (Léon Genonceaux) The Tutu, morality of the fin-de-siècle
A great "lost novel". Published in 1891, it was never released to bookshops, since its author quickly realised it would see him
jailed. The novel remained totally unknown for a hundred years and even then only a handful of copies came to light. Described
by French critics as a cross between Alphonse Allais and Lautréamont, this is the most outrageous "decadent novel" ever penned.
At once appalling and funny, it recognises no taboos whatsoever, and one can only speculate what its influence might have been had it
appeared when it was written. The author was the publisher of Rimbaud's poems and Lautréamont's Maldoror. Hardback.
Michel Leiris Aurora and Cardinal Point
Two important Surrealist novels in the new format. Hardback.
NEW FROM THE LONDON INSTITUTE OF ’PATAPHYSICS
||Journal, issue 5. Adam Dant & Alastair Brotchie A Chronological Pantheon of Pataphysics
A large (very large) drawing by Adam Dant (check him out on Google Images) portraying 150 famous and not so famous pataphysicians along with
their pithy utterances, plus a booklet by Alastair Brotchie expanding a little on the reasons for their selection, the whole contained in a
purpose-made envelope. 499 numbered copies.
||René Daumal & Julien Torma Pataphysical Letters
A few of these letters appeared in 4 Dada Suicides, this is the totality of their correspondence together with a key letter from Torma to Jean Montmort.
||Journal, issue 6. Ray Galton and Alan Simpson The Rebel
Available late November.
Complete shooting script for the film written for, and starring, Tony Hancock. No script for this film has been published and there are significant
differences here with the film as released, including a number of scenes that were cut. Illustrated with reconstructions of Hancock's artworks
by members of the LIP as featured in the group exhibition held ten years ago (a few copies of the catalogue are still available). Below, Magnus Irvin's
reconstruction of Hancock's Self-Portrait.
MIT/ATLAS PRESS/LIP BOOK-LAUNCH on 1 November! See end of this news bulletin…
The recent inactivity at Atlas Press has had rather a lot to do with the
imminent publication of this book:
This is the first full-length biography of Jarry in English and incorporates a
great deal of material new to English readers, and a fair amount that will be
new to French ones. (And no, he was not buried upright astride his bicycle, as
was claimed in a recent literary blog...)
Alfred Jarry A Pataphysical Life by Alastair Brotchie:
MIT Press, 7 x 9 inches, 424 pp., 156 illustrations:
Oct. USA, Nov. UK:
ISBN-10: 0-262-01619-2, ISBN-13:978-0-262-01619-3:
Click here for an extract: How to Avoid Fighting a Duel
Meanwhile, Atlas Press has not been idle despite the apparent dearth of new
publications. Recently we have been publishing the JOURNAL OF THE LONDON
INSTITUTE OF 'PATAPHYSICS. By the end of this month, four thematic issues will
- 1. (Angelic issue) Principally featuring a translation of The Comparative
Anatomy of Angels by Dr. Mises (Gustav Theodor Fechner), with additional
texts by Jarry and Robert Irwin.
- 2. (Paul Etienne Lincoln issue) An Observatory of Collected Cicerones by Paul
Etienne Lincoln. Googling his name will give a fair idea of the range of
preoccupations of this collection.
- 3. (Presidential issue). The Bleaching Stream: Peter Blegvad in conversation
with Kevin Jackson.
- 4. (Mallarmé issue). Ptyxis. Devoted to a single immense poem, texts by
Mallarmé and Sandomir.
ALL OF THE ABOVE WILL BE LAUNCHED ON 1 NOVEMBER ON LICENSED PREMISES IN SHOREDITCH, LONDON.
JOIN US! FOR FURTHER DETAILS CONTACT: email@example.com.
Subsequently, Atlas resumes its publications with Harry Mathews' translation of
The Dust of Suns by Raymond Roussel, available in a couple of weeks. News of
other titles will follow soon...
Two new titles are now available:
Norman Douglas, Some Limericks
with an introduction by Stephen Fry.
The long overdue re-issue of a famous, or rather infamous, literary classic:
a work of exquisite scholarship and quite startling ribaldry!
SPECIAL PRICE for direct orders from the website: £7, until the end of October 2009.
One of "the most frequently pirated books of all time", Some Limericks by Norman
Douglas (1928), is now issued in a respectable edition by Atlas Press.
Allow us to rephrase that: The once-respectable Atlas Press has forfeited its claim
to decency by reprinting Some Limericks by Norman Douglas, one of the filthiest books
we have ever seen. Even in an age of indecency, we cannot bring ourselves to print a
limerick involving Christ, the Virgin and the Holy Ghost. The only clue to the permutations
thereof we are minded to offer is the variation offered by Douglas —
Thus spake the King of Siam:
Try reconfiguring it in a version featuring Jesus and the others. The main pleasure to be
had from Some Limericks is Douglas's po-faced, faux·learned commentary. Following
a rhyme which begins "There was a young girl of Pitlochry, / Who was had by a man in a
rockery", Douglas comments, "There are several fine country seats near Pitlochry and
a good many of them have rockeries in their grounds. but the text does not allow us to
decide in which of them this event took place". He does not object, as we would, that
Pitlochry does not rhyme with rockery.
"For women I don't give a damn.
Bur a fat-bottomed boy
ls my pride and Joy —
They call me a bugger: I am."
One of the few repeatable limericks in this edition is provided by the publisher:
There was a young man from Peru
Not forgetting its ludic relation:
Whose limericks stopped at line two.
There was a young man from Verdun.
Some Limericks, which costs £l0, is just the thing for Aunt Enid's eightieth birthday.
Boris Vian, Letters to Stanley Chapman.
Facsimile edition of Vian's letters to Stanley Chapman, all but the first written in English.
SPECIAL PRICE for direct orders from the website: £8, until the end of October 2009.
STANLEY CHAPMAN, OGG
8 Absolu 53 (Absinthe) — 9 Merdre 136 (Voidance)
15 September 1925 — 26 May 2009 vulg.
Advocate and Practitioner of 'Pataphysics by Deed
The occasion of this publication is a sad one: the recent death of Stanley Chapman, President of
the London Institute of 'Pataphysics, Regent of the Collège de 'Pataphysique,
founder-member of the Oulipo, translator extraordinaire, and good friend...
The Times Literary Supplement also reviewed this title, albeit a little inaccurately, publication
was jointly by Bookartbookshop and Atlas Press for the London Institute:
Inspired by our commemoration of Boris Vian (NB, luly 17 and August 21 & 28),
Alastair Brotchie sends us a fascinating booklet which he has published himself, under the
imprint bookartbookshop, Letters to Stanley Chapman contains a brief correspondence
with the English writer responsible for transtatlng Vian's novels L'Écume des jours
(Froth on the Daydream) and L'Arrache-coeur (Heartsnatcher). Brotchie reproduces
the letters in facsimile — only seven in all, but some run to several pages. The majority are
in fluent English, "which I don't speak", Vian explains. "neither do I write it, you
know". They are typically full of puns, many of them obscene: in one letter alone (October,
1955), we remarked "arse-stonishingly", "inside aunt Ally" (incidentally), "French
vocal bullery" and "cuntemporary".
The better part of the correspondence concerns "some crazy and atrocious lyrics for
French 'Rock and Roll' things" by Vian, which he invites Chapman to translate.
"Enclosed are three of the worst", he writes in September 1956, at the height of his
involvement in the music business (Vian worked for Philips, where his boss was
Jacques Canetti, brother of Elias). It would be "nothing" for him to write his own English
words "on the horrible music", but he thought "nice little Stanley" might do "an adaptation.
We could co-sign and share the income".
The results lack the sprightly idiocy of the original. "Rock and Roll-Mops" is the story
of a couple who work up a good appetite by rocking all night. When they ask a local bar-
owner what`s on the menu, he offers a variety of dishes — liver of lion, kangaroo escalope,
horse's eggs — which the grateful lovers consume before "on va r'toumer s'coucher!"
In his letter to us, Mr Brotchie remarks that there are "not so many Vian enthusiasts this
side of the water". There are a few, though. and all will wish to read Letters to Stanley
Chapman, available at £13 from 17 Pitfield Street. London Nl 6HB.
And while we're at it, the TLS also reviewed our other small book by Boris Vian,
'Pataphysics? What's That?:
Alastair Brotchie, the publisher of Boris Vian?s Letters to Stanley Chapman (see
NB, September 4) has sent us another Vian booklet, 'Pataphysics, What's That?, based
on a French radio programme broadcast in l959. The question has perturbed us. We've
heard of it .... We know we ought to know. but . . . 'Pataphysics, what's that?
Searching Vian's text for an answer, we drew a blank. We approached Mr Brotchie:
"'Pataphysics, what's that?" He pataphysically replied: "Not an easy task. The point of
the Vian piece is to show how it is easier to demonstrate what 'Pataphysics is than to
define it". Rather than demonstrate it, Mr Brotchie offered to send us "a small tome",
'Pataphysics: Definitions & citations.
Opening at random, we found this definition: "'Pataphysics is the whole sausage"
(Siegfried Krakauer), which led us to wonder
if we were being made the butt of a joke.
Better to ask Georges Perec, an oracle in such matters: "Physics proposes: 'You have it
brother and he likes cheese'. Metaphysics replies: 'If you have a brother, he likes
cheese'. But 'Pataphysics says, 'You don't have a brother and he likes cheese"'. Justin
Saget tells us that "Denial of knowledge is the first and last word of 'Pataphysics",
Sergei Eisenstein that Charlie Chaplin "had a weakness? for it, Ionesco that 'Pataphysics is
"an elaborately constructed hoax".
At least we were getting somewhere. Who better to settle the matter, than Vian himself,
cited in the small tome: "'Pataphysics will always be plunging ahead because it is
always static in time, and because time itself is retrograde by detinition". lt?s a rare feeling
when confusion clears.
Publications for autumn 2008
Further to the recent announcement of publication of Gadda's wonderful
Philosophers' Madonna, news is now available about the next two Atlas Press
titles, expected in October or November, plus an earlier title now
The first work by a major French author
"It is not every day we get a thesis such as Céline wrote on Semmelweis!"
Henry Miller, The Books in My Life
Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961) is best known for his early novels
Journey to the End of the Night (1932), which Charles Bukowski described
as the greatest novel of the past 2,000 years, and Death on the Instalment
Plan (1936), but this delirious, fanatical and unreasonable biography
predates them both.
The astounding yet true story of the life of Ignaz Semmelweis
provided Céline with a narrative whose appalling events and bizarre twists
would have lain beyond credibility in a work of pure fiction.
Semmelweis (1818-1865), now regarded as the father of antisepsis,
was the first to diagnose correctly the cause of the staggering mortality
rates in the maternity hospital in Vienna; his colleagues, however,
rejected both his reasoning and his methods, thereby causing many thousands
of unnecessary deaths in maternity wards across Europe. This episode, one
of the most infamous in the history of medicine, along with its
disastrous effects on Semmelweis himself, is the subject of Céline's
semi-fictional evocation, one in which his violent descriptive genius is
already apparent. It is the passionate account of a man persecuted for the
simple fact of revealing the truth. The overriding theme of Céline's later
works finds its first expression in this book: a caustic despair, verging
on disgust, for humanity as a whole. And yet, for those familiar with his
other works, the surprise of this first book is that he simultaneously
reveals more compassionate aspects of his character...
While originally written as a thesis towards his medical doctorate
in 1924, Semmelweis was not published until 1936, after the novels which
had made him famous. He was soon to become notorious for his collaboration
with the Nazi regime of occupied France.
Cantatrix Sopranica L., Scientific Papers
A collection of Perec's scientific writings
Georges Perec (1936-1982) became the most celebrated French writer of his
generation, his novel Life A User's Manual winning the Prix Médicis in
1978. Perec from the start was fascinated by the possibility of employing
non-fictional languages for altogether more mischievous purposes and this
book collects together various texts in which he uses the expressionless
terminology of sociology, entomology and linguistics to achieve effects
they are distinctly designed to avoid.
Perec was of course also an illustrious member of the Oulipo, a
group of writers which is still very much active, who explore the
possibilities of employing artificial systems in literature. Perhaps the
most famous work to emerge from their researches was La Disparition, again
by Perec, a full-length novel which avoids the use of any words containing
the letter e (it is translated as A Void).
Not surprisingly, the present book is experimental, but it is also
strange, preposterous and entertaining...
Also, a roll of the dice never quite removing the possibility that chance
will intervene, recent excavations have revealed a smallish quantity of our
The Dice Cup, so this is now back in print while rediscovered
New Books and Forthcoming Titles
The Complete Works of Urmuz
The collected short and absurdist stories of the Romanian writer "Urmuz",
dating from the early years of the twentieth century up until their
author's death in 1923. Urmuz's work has been claimed as a forerunner of
Dada, and of Surrealism as well, and shows again the sharp sense of the
vitality of the avant-garde amongst Romanian practitioners. These stories
appear in translation by Miron and Carola Grindea, with an introduction by
the former, and the book constitutes the penultimate issue of the Printed
Head, series IV. £6
The free subscribers-only issue, and slipcase for the full set, are now in
The Deliquescences of Adoré Floupette
A collection of Decadent poems, with an extended Life of the Poet, which
was published originally in 1885, only for it to become apparent in short
order that it was in fact a literary hoax and the confection of the two
minor poets Henri Beauclair and Gabriel Vicaire. The book soon garnered a
reputation for the quality of its parody, for successfully hoodwinking some
critics and for entertaining those in on the joke, and is today recognised
both as one of the earliest exemplars of the genre of hoax writings, and as
a key contemporary work for all those interested in the French literature
of the 1890s.
Poems and Life have been put into a fine translation by Stanley Chapman,
while an Afterword by Paul Edwards discusses the work's context,
significance, and pun-hidden references.
Published with slipcase in an edition of 1000 copies (plus 33 numbered
copies for the London Institute of 'Pataphysics, all sold), £16
A special launch price of £12 applies until 15 September.
the sixth sense
The masterful and thoroughly enjoyable novel by Konrad Bayer, in its first
translation, by Malcolm Green, into English and with a suite of
illustrations by Günter Brus done especially for this edition. With
consummate facility Bayer combined in this work an omnivorous approach to
textual collage with a full range of teasing wordplays and linguistic
disruptions, telling a story which certainly has its autobiographical roots
but which also finds different ways to examine questions of time,
mortality, and identity. The writing visits every tram-stop on the line
from nonsensical slapstick to lambent beauty, while Bayer's warm and
generous humour accompanies us as we learn what it is to have this sixth
Published in an edition limited to 999 numbered copies, of which the first
fifty are slipcased and signed by the artist.
£14 for the standard edition, with a special launch price of £10 until 28
£35 for the signed edition, without discount and limited to one copy per
buyer only, with orders being taken now whilst the slipcases are being
A Game of War
First published in 1987, this running commentary with diagrams, by Alice
Becker-Ho and Guy Debord, of a war game of their own devising, saw its
initial print-run pulped on Debord's instructions in 1991 and consequently
became a Situationist rarity. The rules were explicitly designed so as to
reduce the elements of warfare to their most universally applicable basics,
and the interaction of the two opponents, as described in the course of 55
pairs of move and response, is portrayed in a similarly pared-down and
immediate style. Minimal apparatus, and a few pages of related notes found
amongst Debord's papers, complete the book as it appears in Donald
Nicholson-Smith's commanding translation.
Published in a special edition which includes board and counters to allow
readers to play their own game of war, all contained in a slipcase.
Priced at £20 but available for £17 for one month after publication
available a little later:
Mirror of Tauromachy
A slim but characteristically dense piece of writing by Michel Leiris on
the subject of bullfighting, with powerful and often erotic illustrations
by André Masson, as translated by Paul Hammond. In a shorter first section,
Leiris describes the course and acts of a bullfight in a series of
sometimes poetic, sometimes aphoristic tableaux, with the key movements and
elements described in a style at once trim and concise, graceful and
rhythmic. The remainder of the book is taken up with an excursus which
allows Leiris to follow his anthropological curiosities, and to discuss the
wider significance of the bullfight in terms of its relation to mythology
and social importance, sacrifice and religion, ceremony and performance,
vitality and eroticism.
Published in an edition limited to 1000 copies, and expected late October.
£16, with a special launch price of £12 for the first month of publication.
Recent Publications of the LIP, Forthcoming Publications from Atlas Press
The Atlas Press website has two new publications from the London Institute
of 'Pataphysics which may be of more general interest:
Boris Vian 'Pataphysics? What's That?
Transcript of a radio interview given by Boris Vian and Henri Salvador for
French radio one month before Vian's death.
Asger Jorn et al. Pataphysics as Religion, 'Pataphysics as Apostasy
Jorn's essay Pataphysics, A Religion in the Making followed by a
reply from the Collège de 'Pataphysique. Various more-or-less appalling
translations of Jorn's text can be found on the web, but this one is
Also published by the LIP and now available:
Kevin Jackson The Pataphysical Flook
The comic strips which appeared long-term in The Daily Mail are revealed to
have had a number of references to 'Pataphysics and to Jarry's writings
smuggled in, and on to the breakfast tables of unsuspecting middle England.
Signed edition with signatures of Jackson, George Melly, and Trog.
Andrew Lanyon Circular Walks Around Rowley Hall
The slipcased and limited edition is now available, 99 copies published for
the London Institute of 'Pataphysics, numbered and signed by Andrew Lanyon
and with individual original collage plates tipped in.
Forthcoming from Atlas Press. We have an extensive programme of new books
that is about to begin. The next few publications will be (and probably in
The Deliquescences of Adoré Floupette. The famous pastiche of Decadent
poetry by Henri Beauclair and Gabriel Vicaire originally published in 1885.
This first English translation is by Stanley Chapman.
Urmuz Complete Works. The last issue of the Printed Head apart from the
free issue for subscribers. We will try and finish off this series and send
out slipcases soon to all returning subscribers...
Alice Becker-Ho and Guy Debord A Game of War. The book of Guy Debord's
war game. This edition will be the first which actually includes the
board and counters and will allow readers to play out the game.
Konrad Bayer the sixth sense. Bayer's last book, with illustrations by
Günter Brus commissioned for this edition (there will be a limited edition
signed by him).
Alfred Jarry Three Early Novels (Collected Works II). Contains Days and
Nights, Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician, Absolute
(Alastair Brotchie has been writing a full-length biography of Jarry to be
published by MIT Press next year, and a few Jarry-related off-shoots from
this project will appear through Atlas Press in the near future, notably a
selection of his letters, and his contributions to L'Ymagier and
Michel Leiris The Mirror of Tauromachy, illustrated by André Masson.
Marcel Duchamp, Henri-Pierre Roché, Beatrice Wood Three New York Dadas and
The Blindman. New York Dada in 1916-17, contains Roché's roman à clef of
the group, Victor (Marcel Duchamp), extracts from Wood's memoirs and a
complete facsimile reprint of the magazine they edited together, The
Carlo Emilio Gadda The Philosophers' Madonna. His first novel.
In the Anti-Classic series, there will be improved reprints of Aurora by
Leiris and Liberty or Love! by Desnos, as well as the first issue of
Oulipo Papers (selected translations from the Bibliothèque Oulipienne).
Emmett Williams has departed from these shores
at the age of 81. We shall all miss him. According to his wife,
Ann Noël, Emmett had spent the day in his studio working on some
new pieces and the evening over a glass or two of red wine; he
died quietly in his own bed on the eve of Valentines Day –
an institution he made wonderfully his own in his book Valentine
for Noel. In place of an obituary, here a piece written during his
last years that testifies to his enduring vitality and sheer
“Emmett at Eighty”
The internationally acclaimed poet, performer and picture-maker
Emmett Williams, grand old man of Fluxus, is eighty.
Not every octogenarian manages to pull off such a fine bash for
his eightieth birthday party as Emmett Williams did on April 8th
at the Freie Akademie für Kunst in Berlin. And it wasn't
just a question of quality entertainment but also a quality crowd,
the sort where you start thinking "if they were all regulars
at the same bar I'd like to know the address", the kind you'd
like to meet at every art event or private view, a scintillating crowd,
all ages, not just a bunch of art scene liggers and Fluxus groupies or
people attracted by the free food and drinks (there were two of those
there, but I forget their names). No, it was clear that the crowd was
genuinely there for The Emmett Williams Experience. And even he enjoyed
it, against his worst expectations.
It highlighted one of those apparently non-art questions about artists
that are in fact so important: what is it that makes or allows such a
fellow to have so many nice, intelligent, friendly friends, for that
was the main common denominator? Well, for one thing, Emmett Williams
has had rather a lot of job descriptions in his time, and fulfilled the
agendas pretty well — that brings you friends, or respect at least:
performance artist, graphic artist, celebrated Editor-in-Chief of Dick
Higgins' celebrated Something Else Press, painter, translator and annotator,
multi-anthologist and proselytist. This is just to list the normal stuff.
For even if Emmett pours scorn on the "I-was-first" game, a few ironically
proud facts seep through in his books and conversations: not only was he
the first person ever to write the word "Fluxus" in a press publication
(now that is a claim to fame), he was even the first person to coin the
word "gallerist" in English. Apparently. The more arcane it gets, the
prouder the man should be: co-inventor (with Robert Filliou) of the
Spaghetti-Sandwich, water-ballet choreographer, Fluxus postage stamp
designer, hermeneutist of the exabiphallus…. There seems to be no
end to it. But above all Mr Williams is first and foremost a poet,
"capital P, without any qualifiers," as he points out. And the kind of
poet he is throws a very strong light on why he has such nice friends.
Emmett Williams is not the kind of poet who sits up all night in his
garret honing his little gems to perfection. He must have long since
realised there is no such a thing as a perfect poem, just as there is no
such thing as a perfect piece of music; but sometimes there is the perfect
moment or situation to listen to precisely that piece, or that poem. Emmett's
poetry and — jumping ahead slightly — performance pieces seem
however to sidestep the issue by seeking or prompting the situation first,
or by creating the possibility of a situation, and then letting things
take their turn… A perfect sidestep, which also helped Emmett Williams
escape the "I've got it" syndrome that bedevils so many concrete and
conceptualist works, whether poems or paintings or whatever: where once you
have "got the idea" you're finished, that's it, you can move on because
there's nothing more to the piece. Reading Williams' poems is almost always
an invitation to keep on going, as long as one wants, they simply do not end
at the end of the last page or the end of the book. As, for example, in
"duet" which begins:
"art of my dart
arrow of my marrow"…
"zim zam zom of my o zim o zam o zoom".
In between the poet offers two versions for every letter of the alphabet
("butter of my abutter… cope of my scope" etc.), and with each line
the reader finds him- or herself joining in the game, finding new funny
examples. This is a real word game not in the sense of a pun but as a ludic
enterprise for all. And by setting up an open-ended possibility the author
goes way beyond the simple permutation that even characterised his earlier
work, and that generally has exhausted itself before one even starts reading
The wealth of possibility in Williams' work is also amply demonstrated by
the sheer size (and majesty) of another poem, sweethearts. In this
book-length work, a small, wiggly 11-letter serpent of a word —
"sweethearts" — turns round and investigates its own premises, the
letters that make up its own self, taking a taste of its tail and then
merrily chomping itself up into primal lumps which it ingests and then
eagerly egests into a flood of new words and worlds - as a story of two
lovers and their ears and what they hear, of the sea and what these lovers
see. … Emmett had been poetasting for some years when he wrote
Sweethearts, but not only did this work masterfully transform concrete
poetry into the epic, it also brought warmth, eroticism and humour into an
often tight-assed genre. By creating an open-ended starting point rather
than marshal the words or letters to fit some foreordained idea, he went
on a voyage of discovery. The fetters he placed on himself, or on the words,
were liberating ones because the only limits to the project were his wit
and wits and his desire to travel on and take us to where the idea took him.
The same is equally true of the other parts of Emmett's motley oeuvre,
most particularly the large number of performances he has written and
staged… A glance at almost any of the scores reveals a piece of
simplicity that is able to generate tens of dozens of new variations and
unpredictable situations: Allowing 38 Virgin Marys to arrive and shake hands
on stage… walking or running about on stage with a glass or bottle
balanced on one's head, and singing or speaking until the glass or bottle
falls off… talking in a spontaneously invented language ("The Gift
of Tongues")… counting all the members of the audience from the stage,
aloud, silently, repeatedly, collecting their autographs, giving them
presents and asking for others in return while all the time counting
them… playing Brahms Academic Festival Overture in reverse, such
that even the performers enter backwards… or performing 26 actions
assigned to the letters of the alphabet, from eating a cake dog-style on
the floor to pouring a bottle of sparkling wine down your trousers, in the
order the letters are drawn out of a hat, with different actions each
performance… simple ideas or a draft of a situation that go beyond
merely acting out a script to involve a wealth of spontaneous interactions,
interest, and associations.
It is the sly openness of these pieces that makes Williams' work so
engaging — a fact not spoilt when he shows a great taste in targets
in the spirited attacks he also sometimes delivers — and ergo wins him
a lot of nice friends. And perhaps this all reflects back on the man —
which slowly brings us back to that great party, which also showed another
reason for Emmett's enduring popularity, and not only as a person. Before
the explosive wit of his old Fluxus comrade, Ben Patterson, brought a series
of dedicated events to an end that evening by gleefully letting off outdoor
fireworks indoors – a pyrotechnic breach of good common sense that grew
all the brighter the more the proprietor blanched — a couple of old
Emmett pieces were given a delightful airing by several much younger artists.
But it wasn't just an airing, as if the pieces had been in mothballs for
four or so decades (and that's how old they were): the pieces were as fresh
and saucy as if they had just been written, because the situation was new.
They are inevitably new every time they are performed, so long as no one
gets taken by the idea that there is something in them that has to be
historically accurate and authentic. (Revealingly, Emmett Williams freely
admits to cheating while performing his pieces if he thinks that will make
them better, thus confirming that they are only more authentic if they are
more poetic, in this case more true to the situation). Emmett Williams has
perhaps summarised this irreverent approach to his own work when he says
it is "a kind of game, but so is life". At eighty Emmett has had lot of
life, but as with everything else in his world he seems to have a special
relationship to time.
Bald since he was 17, apart from a hirsute but wonderfully fitting laurel
wreath he wears to this day, Emmett once remarked that he has "often
managed very well to look older than [his] years". Yet even when looking
older than he really was (physically), this never seems to have made him
feel any need to act either his apparent age, or indeed his real (physical)
age. This is no less true now that he is eighty, although carefully
preserved down the decades by choice beverages and recently with a new
flush in his cheeks thanks to a nutritionist and lots of minerals and
vitamins. At eighty he almost seems to be reversing the process and looking
younger than his years. Not to forget those size 12 feet, which on a man of
modest (physical) stature still lend him the playful look of an oversized
puppy. Kind of fitting. But it's his mind that has resisted time the best,
being as acute and astute as ever; and of course his good ole' warm,
| ||Malcolm Green|
NEW PUBLICATIONS FROM ATLAS PRESS AND THE LONDON
INSTITUTE OF 'PATAPHYSICS, a launch party, and a review of our edition
of Hans Bellmer's The Doll.
Andrew Lanyon, Jean Baudrillard, Boris Vian
Circular Walks Around Rowley Hall, Atlas Anti-Classic 15.
Circular Walks is a sort-of-novel that recounts the curious history of
three characters: Vera, Mervyn and Walter Rowley; and of two locations:
Rowley Hall and the Cornish town of St. Ives.
The human protagonists are three members of a family devoted to outlandish
experimentation, mostly upon themselves or each other. Vera, the levitating
psychoanalyst, explores the effects of geology on thought and language;
Walter, a retired vivisectionist, preys on artists in the hope of forcibly
curing them of their vile creative habits; meanwhile Mervyn, his father, is
busy eradicating his son's efforts by secretly creating strange cinematic
extravaganzas and sculptures disguised as scientific apparatus. Or at least
that's what happens on one level…
In fact this is an indefinable book in which both text and image are given
equal weight. A state of play (in both senses of the word) exists between
them, words provoke images and images text, and a literal visualisation of a
joyous creativity is brought into being. It's a tour-de-force that is at once
Gothic narrative, philosophical enquiry, comic novel, a eulogy of the tragic
history of St. Ives and the Cornish landscape and an eloquent demonstration
of the processes underlying its own creation.
Andrew Lanyon has been bringing out the Rowley books in beautiful limited
editions for the past 20 years. This selection from the first 12 of them
is the first time their remarkable content has been made more generally
available. The author is the son of one of the foremost of the St. Ives
artists, Peter Lanyon, and so was brought up in the strange atmosphere of
a fishing village overwhelmed with "high culture"; his ambivalent feelings
about this invasion underpin the narrative.
Simultaneously published by the same author: A Fairy Find,
Circular Walks is published for Atlas Press in an edition of 1100
copies, paperback in slipcase, 176 pp., at £18 but now available at a launch
price to our emailing list of £13 until 20 October. There is a signed,
cased edition of 99 copies soon to be available from the LIP.
PDF flyer -
LAUNCH PARTY. There will be a launch and exhibition of Andrew
Lanyon's work in central London on 12 October. We have a limited number of
invitations available for the Private View: contact us if you want one,
first come, first served…
Pataphysics, Departmental Papers of the LIP, DDT 2.
Baudrillard was recently revealed to have been a lifelong member of the
Collège de 'Pataphysique and this text was written in 1950 in response
to the founding of the Collège, although only recently published in
French. This first English translation is by Simon Watson Taylor, the last
thing he completed before his recent death, and a memorial bookmark is
enclosed. It predates Baudrillard's better known works by some 17 years.
The LIP edition is letterpress-printed on fine paper with rag paper wrappers
in an edition of 177 numbered copies (the 44 signed copies are already
'Pataphysics? What's That?, Departmental Papers of the LIP, DDT 3
The transcript of a radio programme with Boris Vian originally broadcast
in May 1959, and containing a brief sketch by Vian performed by himself
and the singer/Pataphysician Henri Salvador. Intended as an accessible
introduction to 'Pataphysics, this very funny text was Vian's last written
work before his death the following month. The translation is by Stanley
Chapman, and the edition signed by him contains a facsimile of one of the
many extraordinary letters Vian wrote to him in English when they were
working on translating his songs; it begins: "Dear Chap-man, Call me a
shitty baboon, or anything else, and I won't object…"
This book has been selling well and the imminent Klossowski/Bellmer
exhibition at The Whitechapel Gallery in London will arouse more interest
in this, his seminal work.
The Review of Contemporary Fiction Vol. XXVI, no. 2, 2006
Hans Bellmer. The Doll. Trans. and intro. Malcolm Green, with
Antony Melville. Atlas, 2005. 154 pp. Paper: £20.00
We all have our lists of small publishers that are candidates for their
own kind of sainthood, and England's Atlas Press - perhaps best known in
the United States for their marvelous Oulipo Compendium, recently
released in a second, revised and expanded edition - have clinched their
nomination with this, the first complete English translation of Hans
Bellmer's Die Puppe, originally issued in 1934. The book is a
hybrid, and in both form and content somewhat prophetic. Bellmer's prose
is a cross between poem, memoir, manifesto, and philosophical treatise,
setting out his theories of how the body is perceived, and how, indeed,
the operation of both our minds and our bodies already aspire to a kind
of surrealism, exemplified in play both physical (with dolls), and mental
(in misunderstandings, in texts and dreams). Most particularly, Bellmer
instructs us on how desire informs our awareness of reality, and thus
how striking disjunctions of erotic imagery can pique new and more
poignant forms of this productive lust - as exemplified by his
constructions and sketches. Malcolm Green's translation brings out
Bellmer's mesmerizing, occasionally sinister voice wonderfully: a voice
so convinced of its own internal coherence - happy to provide examples
in prose and poetry to substantiate his claims, each of which becomes
its own little gem, achieving a tone reminiscent of Wittgenstein,
Blanchot, and Klossowski by turns - that it has an intoxicating effect
on the reader, regardless of whether Bellmer manages to persuade. And
then there are the dolls - first constructed in order to challenge the
burgeoning Nazi ideal of flawless, symmetrical beauty - here accompanied
by the prose poetry of Paul Éluard. The images are astounding,
alarming, and gorgeously reproduced: photographs colored by Bellmer almost
to belie the physicality of what's being depicted (the eye wants to see
the pictures as flat, harmless paintings). Legs turn into arms into necks,
thighs conjoin, attached to no known waist. In brief, this is an essential
book, both as a work of art and a treatise on the malleability of the body
- a concept that has only become more relevant since Bellmer's passing.
This edition is limited to a thousand copies… rush over to the
Atlas website and get yours before it's too late. [Jeremy M. Davies]
FINALLY. Look out for the review of the Oulipo Compendium in the
next issue of the New York Review of Books; the same title has also
just been reviewed on the Compulsive
Reader website, see
a review of New Impressions of Africa having appeared previously on the same
Happy New Year! … and for your entertainment, an email we recently
Hello, I hope that you will be able to help me. You are my last resort -
I have been hopelessly trying to find the book "The Shepherd" that has a
copyright date of 1979. If I remember correctly it was written by Flossie
Peters, it is a brown covered book with a picture of Authur Atlas Peters
on the cover. It is about Rev. Peters and how he cam to be the shepherd
of Victory Baptist Church among other things that he was involved in at
the time the book was written. Can you help me?
I thank you in advance for any and all
assistance you can provide me regarding this book.
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
THE RETURN OF THE PRINTED HEAD
Yes - after an extremely protracted interval, the result of various
organisational problems, we are glad to say that publication of series IV
of the Printed Head is at last resumed, and in fact the next two fascicles
are now available. These are both double issues and are
Number 8/9, On the Brink, by Gerhard Roth and with three drawings by Günter
From a cycle of works known as the "Archives of Silence", On the Brink
revolves around the murders carried out by the law student and serial
killer Alois Jenner, and his reflections, and the behaviour of his
schizophrenic friend Franz Lindner who escapes into madness. Roth, one of
Austria's most important living authors and whose magnificent
of albert einstein (Atlas Press, 1992) is now very nearly out of print, has
his novel illustrated with three portraits by Brus, whose work as a Vienna
Actionist is fully documented in our
Arkhive volume on the group.
Edition of 300 copies in total, single issue £9
The signed edition (50 copies signed by Roth and Brus) is only available to
subscribers to the series, and is £18
Number 10/11, What is Dada???, by Theo van Doesburg
The Dada writings of the celebrated De Stijl architect Theo van Doesburg,
the majority of which appeared under a pseudonym. In addition to the
near-dozen shorter texts, dating from the early 1920s, this collection
includes the author's exercise in automatic writing, his "novel" The Other
Sight. An extended introduction by the translator Michael White gives a
thorough survey of the Dada tour of Holland made by Van Doesburg,
Schwitters and associates at the start of 1923.
Edition of 300 copies in total, single issue £9
While both books are available to buy individually in the usual way,
subscribers to this current series of the Printed Head are warmly invited
to resume their subscription, whether to signed or non-signed editions, and
are asked to confirm this with a brief message to
in this way the particular cases of individual
subscribers can be looked after as needed.
New subscribers are also welcome to join, though only non-signed
subscriptions are available, and for further information again please write
It is worth pointing out that since the Printed Head began its erratic
journey the books and especially complete sets have risen steadily in price
on the antiquarian market, as for instance the Brus issue from the first
which nowadays fetches upwards of £50 a copy
(unsigned). Other books have seen their authors move from corners of
relative obscurity into a limier sort of light, most notably Grayson Perry,
whose (rather) graphic novel,
Cycle of Violence,
first came out as an issue of PH II.
The second volume in our Collected Works of Alfred Jarry will
shortly be going to print, but before that we shall be publishing a curious
and marvellous collection of some of the marvellous and curious works of
the artist and writer Andrew Lanyon - you are invited to join us for
Circular Walks Around Rowley Hall.
Two Atlas titles now back in print, redesigned, and in the case of the
Compendium, revised and updated.
Edited by Harry Mathews & Alastair Brotchie
Oulipo Compendium is a late 20th-century kabala, a labyrinth of literary
secrets that will lure the unitiated into rethinking everything they know
about books and writing. A nutty, one-of-a-kind book, the definitive
encyclopaedia of contemporary word-magic. PAUL AUSTER
An indispensable book for everyone who cares about literature. SUSAN SONTAG
Book of the year! GILES FODEN in The Guardian.
Paperback, 336 pp., £19.99
Atlas Arkhive 6
SPECIAL PRICE: £15, until 27 November.
4 DADA SUICIDES
Writings by Arthur Cravan, Jacques Rigaut, Julien Torma & Jacques Vaché.
With Introductions and biographical essays on each author
This book, originally published by Atlas Press in 1995, has become one of
our most sought-after out-of-print titles. This new edition is a corrected
reprint in a new cover and slipcase.
4 Dada Suicides collects together works by four writers on the
fringes of the Dada movement in 1920s Paris.
A limited edition of 1000 copies, paperbound in a slipcase, 240 pp., £20
Atlas Anti-Classic 2
SPECIAL PRICE: £15, until 27 November.
We have three new titles either published or forthcoming. They are briefly
described here, the links provided give more detail with photographs and
artwork.. But first:
HARRY MATHEWS IN CONVERSATION
With Mark Ford (to be confirmed), to celebrate the publication of "My Life
in the CIA" (Dalkey Archive Press) at London Review Bookshop, Bury Place, WC1A 2JL.
12 July 2005 at 7 pm.
Tickets (advance booking only) £4 from the shop, or by phone (020 7269
9030) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Hans Bellmer • The Doll
The first publication of Bellmer's final version of this book, which
includes three important theoretical texts (including "The Anatomy of the
Image"), a suite of poems by Paul Eluard, 15 colour photographs, 10 in black and white,
plus numerous line drawings.
To be published in November 2005. A limited edition of 1000 copies,
paperbound in a slipcase, 160 pp., £20.
Copies are available for sale now, however, and until the end of June 2005
at a pre-publication price of £15.
PDF flyer -
Harry Mathews & Alastair Brotchie "Oulipo Compendium", revised and updated
edition. Finally the re-print...!
336 pp., 23 x 21 cm, paperback, numerous photos and line illustrations.
For publication in November 2005 at £19.99. Copies available late August
and orders now being accepted at the pre-publication price of £15.
Contact Chris Allen for further information.
Arthur Cravan, Jacques Rigaut, Julien Torma, Jacques Vaché "4 Dada
Suicides". Selected texts with introductions to each author and personal
recollections by their contemporaries.
A limited edition of 1000 copies, paperbound in a slipcase, 238 pp., £20.
Publication: 1 November 2005.
Copies available from around September at a pre-publication price of £15.
Advance orders now being accepted.
Contact Chris Allen for further information.