Jean-Pierre Brisset  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Jean-Pierre Brisset (La Sauvagère, Orne 1837 – La Ferté-Macé, Orne 1919) was a French writer and fou littéraire born of peasant farmers.

He was an outsider writer, much like Henri Rousseau was an outsider artist. He is a saint on the 'Pataphysics calendar. He was featured in Breton's Anthology of Black Humour.

His writings are in publication as of 2004. Most of his work was self-published. He has a theory that man descended from frogs.

His best-known poem is Les dents, la bouche, a poem which is untranslatable due to its reliance on paronymy.

Life and work

Brisset was an autodidact: as a boy, he learned pastry baking. He served in the army, and became head of the railway station of Angers, and later of l'Aigle. After publishing a book on swimming, and one on French, he undertakes his major philosophical work: to spread his theory that Man's origins are in the water, and that Man descends from Frogs. He finds ample proofs in comparing French and frog language (like "logement"= dwelling, comes from "l'eau" = water). Very serious about his morosophy, he writes several books and pamphlets expounding his irrefutable proofs, and has them printed and distributed at his own expense.

In 1912, the writer Jules Romains obtains a copy of "God's Mystery" and "The Human Origins". With some accomplices, he organises a rigged election of a «Prince of Thinkers», and Brisset gets elected. Brisset is called to Paris by the Election Committee in 1913, where he is pompously received and acclaimed. He participates in several ceremonies and a banquet and pronounces emotional words of thanks for this unexpected late recognition of his work. The next days the newpapers uncover the joke.

The Complete Works of Brisset has recently been reprinted by Marc Décimo, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2001. In an Essay, Jean-Pierre Brisset, Prince des Penseurs, inventeur, grammairien et prophète, Dijon, Les presses du réel, 2001, Marc Décimo has given a biography, explanations about Brisset's delirium about frogs as ancestors of the mankind. We can also find into this book translations in several languages (European languages, Wolof, Armenian, Arabic, Houma, etc.). There are also the main texts written about Brisset by Jules Romains, Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, Raymond Queneau, Michel Foucault. In 2004 the Art of Swimming (as a frog) was published in paperback.

Around 2001, Ernestine Chassebœuf wrote several letters to French politicians, universities, railway stations, directors of libraries, psychiatic hospitals, to ask whether they could not name a street, university, etc. after Brisset. Their answers are published on a Brisset website, but until now no "rue Jean-Pierre Brisset" exists.

Les presses du réel

  1. Œuvres complètes, Les presses du réel, collection L'écart absolu, Dijon, 2001 et 2e éd. 2004.
  2. Œuvres natatoires, Les presses du réel, collection L'écart absolu - poche, Dijon, 2001.
  3. La Grande nouvelle, Édition en fac simile du Cymbalum Pataphysicum.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jean-Pierre Brisset" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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