I Am Sarcey

Written by Alphonse Allais | translated by Doug Skinner
Black Scat Books | March 7, 2017

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.

Compiled and translated by Doug Skinner, this sustained journalistic prank is destined to become a classic of black humor.


About the author

Alphonse Allais (1854-1905) was one of France's greatest humorists. His elegance, scientific curiosity, preoccupation with language and logic, wordplay and flashes of cruelty inspired Alfred Jarry, as well as succeeding generations of Surrealists, Pataphysicians, and Oulipians. The Squadron’s Umbrella collects 39 of Allais's funniest stories — many originally published in the legendary paper Le Chat noir, written for the Bohemians of Montmartre. Included are such classic pranks on the reader as "The Templars" (in which the plot becomes secondary to remembering the hero's name) and "Like the Others" (in which a lover's attempts to emulate his rivals lead to fatal but inevitable results.) These tales have amused and inspired generations, and now English readers can enjoy the master absurdist at his best. As the author promises, this book contains no umbrella and the subject of squadrons is "not even broached."

Publisher's website

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