The Squadron’s Umbrella

Written by Alphonse Allais; Doug Skinner (Translator and Illustrator)
Written by Alphonse Allais
Translated and illustrated
by Doug Skinner

Black Scat Books, March 2015.

Who was the hippest cat to ever hang his hat at Le Chat Noir in Paris? Alfred Jarry? Erik Satie? Apollinaire? No! Alphonse Allais, of course — the fellow who experimented with holorhymes, invented conceptual art, and created the earliest known example of a silent musical composition: Funeral March for the Obsequies of a Deaf Man (1884). Furthermore, you don’t need a Time Machine to travel back to 1893 to read Allais’s oddly titled collection Le Parapluie de l’escouade. In fact — thanks to Doug Skinner’s inspired translation — you don’t even have to read French to enjoy all 39 wickedly funny texts in The Squadron’s Umbrella because Black Scat Books has launched its first publication in English. Yes, it’s another landmark for lovers of French literature and Pataphysical 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."

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