12 Sept 2010

The Hunting of the Snark by Gisèle Prassinos

Illustrations by Gisèle Prassinos

All images by Gisèle Prassinos

Contributor: Doug Howick (Snark collector)

‘La Chasse au Snark et Autres Poemes: Fontaine, Paris 1946. Translated by Henri Parisot (« revue et corrigee »). Illustrated by Gisèle Prassinos. The additional poems are Fantasmagorie, Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur, Le Morse et le Charpentier, Assis sur une Barriere and Jabberwocky. White card wrappers, title, etc., in black, intertwining picture of the Snark in green and red. Side and bottom edges uncut.

Translated by Henri Parisot and illustrated with 11 plates by Gisèle Prassinos the French surrealist poet who had been discovered by Andre Berton when she was only fourteen, and later photographed by Man Ray in this scary picture.

Gisele Prassinos reading her poetry to Andre Breton and other male artists from the surrealist movement.
Photograph by Man Ray.

"Gisèle Prassinos (Born 1920) is a French writer associated with the surrealist movement.
She was born in Istanbul, Turkey and emigrated to France with her family at the age of two, where they lived initially in Nanterre. Her brother Mario Prassinos is an artist and illustrator.

Her writing was discovered by André Breton in 1934, when she was just fourteen, and published in the French surrealist magazine Minotaure and the Belgian periodical Documents 34. Her first book, La Sauterelle arthritique (The Arthritic Grasshopper) was published in 1935 with a preface by Paul Éluard and a photograph by Man Ray. Marianne van Hirtum observed that the surrealists of the time recognised these early writings as a "veritable illustration of automatic language par excellence".


A tale by Gisèles Prassinos

the young persecuted girl

"A young girl who was in bed was afraid lest a butterfly she saw that morning came to wake her. Before going to bed, she put on a necklace of fresh chervil and little dull glass ladybirds, striped with yellow wax cloth. She was very proud of it and thought the butterfly wouldn't dare touch here when it saw that she was not alone.

But it came anyway: on the windowpane you could see the reflection of a ball of lead, topped with two long horns of bronzed celluloid. Then the pane moved and you could not see anything. So the young girl went to sleep.

When she awakened (because one of her curls had come unrolled) the pane was back in its original place. This time she saw a little hollowed-out cube of glass, full of water, in which a number of balls of string soaked in gasoline were swimming. She wanted to get up in order to destroy this horrible vision, but the window closed violently in her face without making any noise.

Laughing uproariously, she went back to bed. She was happy because she thought the butterfly had been crushed between the two panels of the window. She pulled the bedcover over her with the soul of a pigeon to protect her.

After an hour, she awoke again because the pigeon's soul had fled. She followed it to the window but there she stopped because the wind was raising up her hair. She looked at the pane and saw a sickly little leek whose outer leaves were ragged and full of desiccated tips. Amazed, she slid on to the marble floor and closed her eyes.

She did not open them until three days later."

No comments:

Post a comment