20 January 2013

André Blavier #5: Francisque Tapon-Fougas

Francisque Tapon-Fougas (1810–93) was re-discovered in the 20th century by Raymond Queneau and André Blavier, his writing guaranteeing him a prominent place in the pantheon of fous littéraires, or outsider writers. He wrote many plays (often using the name of the Greek philosopher Thalès de Milet), and many poems (considering himself the 'Lamartine of the Auvergne'), and was convinced that he was a great writer, although none of his plays was performed. Characters in his plays (particularly writers) suffer from persecution, and Blavier speaks of Tapon-Fougas's paranoia, his synaesthetic hallucinations, his delusions of literary grandeur, and his constant changes of address as a defence strategy.

In Sur la mort d'Eugène Sue [1857] Tapon-Fougas speaks of a widespread persecution system using electricity, galvanism, and chemistry, organized by powerful men as an attack on human freedom by paralysing thinking and writing. Blavier notes a distinct evolution in Tapon-Fougas's writing between Sur la mort d'Eugène Sue and Les Antimisérables (1862), which is a huge attack on Victor Hugo. From 1862, there is no more mention of electro-galvanic batteries or Jesuitic-ammoniacal fumes – instead he concentrates on the jealous literary people who are persecuting him. Indeed, the 19th century encyclopedist Gustave Vapereau (ironically) notes that Tapon-Fougas, in Les Désespérés (1864), denounces Hugolatry and Janinocracy (after the drama critic Jules Janin) as the two plagues of the century: they have prevented his plays from being performed, prevented Tapon-Fougas from regenerating the theatre.

From 1871, Tapon-Fougas stood as candidate in all of the regional elections in his three favourite départements: Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, and Rhône – simultaneously. He was also a prolific pamphleteer, and distributed leaflets saying that the electorate had nothing to lose and perhaps a great deal to gain by electing a man who had written forty volumes of poetry and prose. His exhortations fell on deaf ears.

Links to my other posts on André Blavier's Les Fous littéraires are below:

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André Blavier #1: Jean-Pierre Brisset, Paulin Gagne
André Blavier #2: Alexandre Ansaldi, G. Clair/Rupin Schkoff, Camarasa
André Blavier #3: Hyacinthe Dans
André Blavier #4: Ernest de Garay, aka Karl-des-Monts
André Blavier #6: Jules Allix

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