Abbaye de Créteil  

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Abbaye de Créteil was a phalanstère, a utopian community, founded in the fall of 1906 by the poets Georges Duhamel et Charles Vildrac. It was closed down by its members early in 1908.

Inspired by the Abbaye de Thélème, a fictional creation by Rabelais in his great novel Gargantua, Duhamel and Vildrac settled in Créteil, just to the southeast of Paris, in a house in a park-like setting along the Marne River.

Their aim was to establish a place of freedom and friendship conducive, they thought, to artistic and literary creativity, far from the usual styles and conventions of the day.

Around the two founders gathered a group including the writers René Arcos, Henri-Martin Barzun and Alexandre Mercereau) and the painter Albert Gleizes. Henri-Martin Barzun (father of the historian and cultural critic Jacques Barzun) put his fortune to the service of his friends at the Abbaye de Créteil.

The group had the concrete goal of creating a publishing house that might, they hoped, bring in sufficient income to support the Abbaye. The typographer Lucien Linard, a friend of Albert Gleizes, furnished the printing press. From January 1907 through January 1908, some twenty books were published by the Abbaye.

Additional writers and artists came to enrich the group at the Abbaye: the poet Pierre Jean Jouve, the musician Albert Doyen, the illustrator Berthold Mahn, the painter Henri Doucet and Léon Balzagette, the French translator of the Leaves of Grass by the American poet Walt Whitman. The writer Jules Romains, founder of unanimism, was friends with the group.

The Abbaye attracted much interest but, unfortunately, not much revenue and the young members of the Abbaye found themselves forced to close their beloved Abbaye on January 28, 1908. Its publishing house survived for a while and the friends continued to get together every month for a dîner des copains (dinner of pals).

Some works printed by the éditions de l’Abbaye

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