19 December 2013

Zo d'Axa: Cimetière de Montmartre #2

File:Zo d'Axa portrait.jpg
Alphonse Gallaud de la Pérouse, better known as Zo d'Axa (1864-1930), joined the chasseurs d'Afrique (a group of mounted soldiers) in 1882, but soon deserted after an affair with the wife of one of his superiors. He spent some time in Italy, where he worked as an art critic, and returned to France in 1889.

Axa was certainly a kind of anarchist, although like many anarchists he rejected the label. He founded the anarchist weekly L'en dehors in 1891, for which many people (and certainly not all anarchists) wrote, such as: Louise Michel, Jean Grave, Bernard Lazare, Octave Mirbeau, Saint-Pol-Roux, Tristan Bernard, Georges Darien, Lucien Descaves, Sébastien Faure, Félix Fénéon, Émile Henry, Camille Mauclair, Émile Verhaeren, Adolphe Tabarant, etc. Needless to say, it wasn't popular with the authorities. When the anarchist Ravachol and his friends were arrested and Axa set up a fund for the dependants of the detainees, he was jailed for a month.

Another paper Axa founded was La feuille, in which many anti-military and anti-capitalist articles appeared. During the elections of 1899 the paper proposed a donkey as the official candidate, and Axa paraded around Paris in a cart pulled by the donkey, drawing a huge crowd following him.

Axa wrote a great deal more, travelling around the world fighting for justice. His final years were spent on a barge in Marseilles. He became pessimistic, depressive, and killed himself.
Marie Gallaud (1867–1945) was Axa's sister and very close to her brother. She a sculptor, writer and explorer (particularly of the Far East) and (illegally) visited Tibet dressed as a man and accompanied by a sherpa. She studied different forms of Buddhism and wrote Une vie de Bouddha (1929).

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