THE DARK LEDGER (five facsicules)
TRANSLATED TEXTS
WHO IS THE TRANSLATOR?
DOCTOR MULLEN'S SELECTIONS FROM THE LEDGER - in applepie order
PICTURES OF THE LORD OF EVIL
THE MASKED FIGURE MENU (Pictures of Fantomas)
THE AGE OF FANTOMAS, FRENCH FILM STILLS
BOOK COVERSD, SPAIN AND FRANCE

 

The Fantomas novels and films are much celebrated but little known in detail. From 1911 to 1914 (the death of Souvestre), there were 32 different Fantomas titles, and subsequently 11 by Allain alone.

I want to explore them in greater detail here as a guide to the question why the creation of Allain and Souvestre, and as filmed by Feuillade, were so influential. Many years ago I bought a box of the English translations from a Madame Mouilée, spinster of Great Yarmouth, who also gave me access to her Grandfather's collection of bound scrapbooks, known as the Dark Ledger. Only recently has she agreed for me to publish small extracts from the picture pages.

The collection of Allington translations (see beneath) has allowed me to quote extensively from the texts of the Fantomas novels. Wherever possible I will present such visual information as I have acquired, either direct or indirect. Fragments of the texts from the Dark Ledger will be added after copyright clearence has been transferred to me from Madame Mouilée. I would ask admirers of the Evil Lord of Terror to be patient as the texts are re-assembled and translated.

 

What makes Fantomas so original as a concept?

How does he differ from other such literary and filmic inventions?

Is he still of interest, and why?

What is this commodity called Evil?

 

 

 

 

Fakes, Frauds, Fantomas


Words and Meaning,
Fantomas and the imprecision of melodrama.

 

PICTURES - The Crook and Con Artist.
1. Jack Levine's paintings.
2. Seurat and the Ringmaster.
3. Autolycus and The Winter's Tale.
4. The Disguised Narrator and the Super Villain. (Dr.Tube, Dr.Mabuse, Fantomas).

THE FANTOMAS SERIES

"Skintight with movement, mystery and excitement" testimonial in Country Life undated) and printed on the wrappers of the Fantomas novels by Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain. My English copies published by Stanley Paul and Co., London, translated by A.R.Allinson.

 

Dramatis Personae


Fantomas ; international super criminal

Inspector Juve of La Surete


Lady Beltham, English aristocrat, mistress of Fantomas


Jerome Fandor, French journalist, friend and confidant of Juve.

 

MY COLLECTION OF INDIVIDUAL TITLES ACQUIRED FROM MADAME MOUILLÉE

 

1. Fantomas , 1st UK edition, 1915 (1st edition, 1911)


2. The Exploits of Juve , 2nd edition, 1917


3. Messengers of Evil , 1st edition, 1917


4. A Nest of Spies ,1917


5. A Royal Prisoner of Fantomas


6. Slippery as Sin


7. A Limb of Satan, or The Long Arm of Fantomas
by Marcel Allain (alone) . Published by Stanley Paul and Co., London, translated by A.R.Allinson.


8. The Yellow Document, or Fantomas of Berlin ,1st edition ,1919


9. A Lord of Terror , 1st edition, 1925


10. Juve in the Dock , 1st edition, 1925


11. Fantomas Captured, 1st edition, 1926


12. The Revenge of Fantomas , 1st edition, 1927


13. Bulldogs and Rats , 1st edition, 1928


subsequent titles, The Severed Hand, The Gold Stealer. La Fille de Fantomas, Aux mains de Fantomas.

..........................................v......................................

 

DESCRIBING THE EVIL LORD OF TERROR


"What is Fantomas ! A multiple being composed of divers personalities - a being without a precise character ! Who can prove to us that the Fantomas of yesterday will be the same as the Fantomas of tomorrow ? And that the Fantomas of today is not another Fantomas ? These are mysteries which make precise knowledge impossible."


"Yes Fantomas is a marvellous actor, and excels in assuming the form of a variety of people, and this extraordinary faculty he has turned to account in many circumstances. But there is one thing Fantomas does not know how to alter, and by which I shall always recognise him, and that is his look, his eyes !" "This Fantomas was a Fantomas she had never before set her eyes on. It was the Fantomas of the legend now become for her the Fantomas of reality. This mysterious being was enveloped in a big black cloak, a black slouch hat half covered a black hooded mask which his his features. " from Slippery as Sin.


"The thirty two novels which comprise the written series were actually composed by two authors, Pierre Souvestre and Marcel Allain, at the rate of one volume per month when they were interrupted by the First World War and the death of Souvestre. The novels had been a joint enterprise until then, with each author writing alternate chapters. There was a secret code which indicated who had done the writing: Souvestre's chapters carry the word neanmoins on the first page, and Allain's the word toutefois. (Both mean nevertheless)." Gablik beneath.


Magritte has written of Fantomas."He is never entirely invisible. One can see his portrait through his face... When memories pursue him he follows his ar, which drags him away. His movements are those of an automaton; he brushed aside any furniture or walls that are in his way.... Fantomas' science is more valuable than his language. We do not guess, and we cannot doubt, his powers." Magritte also read the Nat Pinkerton and Nick Carter weeklies. In the cinema he followed Lang's thrillers ie Dr.Mabuse.


Magritte's description of Juve on the trail of Fantomas." ...He crawls along the broken cobblestones of a mysterious passage. To guide himself he gropes along the walls with his fingers. Suddenly a whiff of hot air hits him in the face. He comes nearer... His eyes adjust to the darkness. Juve distinguishes a door with loose boards a few feet in front of him. He undoes his overcoat in order to wrap it round his left arm, and gets his revolver ready. As soon as he has cleared the door, Juve realises that his precautions were unnecessary: Fantomas is close by, sleeping deeply. In a matter of seconds Juve has tied up the sleeper. Fantomas continues to dream - of his disguises, perhaps, as usual Juve in the highest of spirits pronounces some regrettable words. They cause the prisoner to start. He wakes up, and once awake, Fantomas is no longer Juve's captive. Juve has failed again this time. One means remains for him to achieve his end: Juve will have to get into one of Fantomas' dreams - he will try to take part as one of its characters." Gablik, p.48. Published in Distances , March 1928.


Magritte's works on a Fantomas theme
• L"Homme du large, 1927, oil 55" x 41"
• The Threatened Assassin, 1926/7 59" x 27"
• The Backfire, 1943
• The Savage c1928 a still from Louis Feuillade's film Fantomas.


COMPARATIVE PHENOMENA - Maldoror, from Lautreamont, Les Chants de Maldoror , "Today he is in Madrid, tomorrow he will be in St.Petersburg; yesterday he was in Peking.... This bandit is perhaps seven hundred leagues away from this country; perhaps he is a few steps away from you..."

see Juan Gris, Fantomas - Pipe and newspaper [Still Life]1915 ; Oil on canvas, 59.8 x 73.3 cm; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (DC 146)


BOOKLIST

 

• Fantomas intro. by John Ashbery Picador London 1987

• misc. Europe nos 590/1 June July 1978


• exhib.catal Dada and Surrealism Reviewed ACGB 1978 p.344,5;


• Suzie Gablik Magritte, Thames & Hudson, 1971


• Sarah Whitfield, Magritte , exhib.catal.,The South Bank Centre, 1992.

 

WEBSITES

 

THE OFFICIAL FANTOMAS WEBSITE

VERY READABLE ARTICLE BY TOSH BERMAN

E.H.LARSON ACCOUNT NW LINKS PAGES - recommended

back

FEUILLADE FILMS

 

Fantômas  (A l'ombre de la guillotine) 1913

Juve contre Fantômas 1913

Le Mort qui tue 1913

Fantômas contre Fantômas 1914

Le Faux magistrat 1914

 

Feuillade's Fantomas was admired by Luis Bunuel, Fritz Lang and many others. Alain Resnais said , "Feuillade is my god. I had always been a fan of the Fantomas dime thriller novels, but when I finally saw the films at the Cinematheque in 1944, I learned from him how the fantastic could be more easily and effectively created in a natural exterior than in a studio. Feuillade's cinema is very close to dreams and is therefore perhaps the most realistic kind of all, paradoxical as this may sound."

 

1980 there is a Bunuel/Chabrol 4 part TV mini series on Fantomas.