Nouvelles anarchistes: la creation litteraire dans la presse militante, 1890-1946.

Author:Lee, Andrew H.
Position:Book review

Vittorio Frigerio (ed.), Nouvelles anarchistes: la creation litteraire dans la presse militante, 1890-1946

Grenoble: ELLUG, 2012. ISBN: 978-2843102165.

This is a marvellous collection of stories published in the French anarchist press from 1890 until 1946. Vittorio Frigerio has done an excellent job of recovery and given us not only a fascinating collection of stories but also his introduction is a very impressive work of literary scholarship. It is not perfect but the overall merit of the work outweighs its few flaws.

Frigerio gleans fifty-two stories from fourteen different 'anarchist' journals. Twelve stories spanning the final decade of the nineteenth century are from Le Libertaire, while L'Anarchie has nine ranging in date from 1905-1926. Thirtyfive are from before the First World War, four from the war years, eight from the twenties, four from the thirties, and just one from the final year of 1946. The arrangement of the book is by themes rather than by authors or publications. The themes are 'The Imaginary of Violence', 'The Dream', 'Parables and Allegories', 'Love and Women', 'Parody and Humor', 'Slices from Life' and finally--also my personal favourite--'Christmas Tales'. Prominent names such as Emile Armand, Albert Libertad, Multatuli, Emile Pouget, Han Ryner and Leon Frapie (the winner of the 1904 Goncourt Prize for his novel La Maternelle) are among the forty-two authors in the anthology. Though Libertad has the most entries with five, most of the rest are represented by a single story. (The great Leo Malet is mentioned as continuing the tradition; however, he is too recent to be included.) Understandably the majority of the authors are French, though the anthology includes authors born in Belgium, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. The latter was Benjamin De Casseres who worked on a number of important New York City newspapers and co-founded the Mexican daily El Diario.

The stories themselves are an interesting fictional reflection of the concerns and visions of French anarchists in their press. As with any anthology one can question the criteria, arrangement, the selections and omissions, etc. If these are anything other than mild queries (and mine are intended as such), then such questions are churlish. Frigerio did a great deal of work in collecting what he does give us, especially some in hard to find journals (notably the four stories from the First World War). I came to these questions in...

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