Ball, Hugo

Hugo Ball (1886–1927) founded the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916, a year after moving there with his wife, Emmy Hennings. In doing so, he helped launch (and according to some accounts, named) the Dada Movement. After authoring one of the first Dada manifestos and some landmark sound poems, he grew disenchanted with the evolution of Dada, broke ties with the movement and relocated to the Swiss countryside with Hennings, where he authored one of the first studies on the work of Hermann Hesse.

Published by Wakefield Press

Flametti, or The Dandyism of the Poor


Balzac, Honoré de

Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850) was a true monolith of French letters, one of the fathers of realism, and a great abuser of coffee. His Human Comedy ended up consisting of over one hundred interlinked stories and novels, and featured a cast of some two thousand characters. The lesser-known, but equally entertaining and insightful, components to his literary project were his “scientific” physiologies, which Wakefield Press shall be bringing into English.

Published by Wakefield Press

Treatise on Elegant Living

The Physiology of the Employee

Treatise on Modern Stimulants


Benet, Juan

A civil engineer by profession, Juan Benet (1927–1993) began writing to pass the long nights of solitude he spent on construction sites in León and Asturias. He self-published his first novel, You Will Never Amount to Anything, in 1961. In 1967, he won the Biblioteca Breve Prize for his novel A Meditation.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Construction of the Tower of Babel


Bloy, Léon

Léon Bloy (1846–1917) is among the best known but least translated of the French Decadent writers. Nourishing antireligious sentiments in his youth, his outlook changed radically when he moved to Paris and came under the influence of Barbey d’Aurevilly, the unconventionally religious novelist best known for Les Diaboliques. He earned the dual nicknames of “The Pilgrim of the Absolute” through his unorthodox devotion to the Catholic Church, and “The Ungrateful Beggar” through his endless reliance on the charity of friends to support him and his family.

Published by Wakefield Press

Disagreeable Tales

Sweating Blood


Daumal, René

Poet, philosopher, and self-taught Sanskrit scholar René Daumal (1908–1944) devoted himself to a lifelong attempt to think through death by means of what he called “experimental metaphysics”: an attempt to address metaphysical questions through scientific methodology. After co-founding the iconoclastic journal Le Grand Jeu, and rejecting overtures from the Surrealist movement, he became a disciple of the spiritual teacher George Gurdjieff.

Published by Wakefield Press

Pataphysical Essays


Duvert, Tony

Expelled from school at the age of 12 for homosexuality (and then put through a psychoanalytic “cure” for his condition), Tony Duvert (1945–2008) declared war on family life and societal norms through a controversial series of novels and essays (whose controversial depictions of child sexuality and pedophilia often lead his publisher to sell his works by subscription only). He won the Prix Medicis in 1973 for his novel Strange Landscape. His reputation faded in the 1980s, however, and he withdrew from society. He died in isolation in July 2008 in the commune of Thoré-la-Rochette in central France.

Published by Wakefield Press


Odd Jobs


Ferry, Jean

Jean Ferry (1906–1974) made his living as a screenwriter for such filmmakers as Luis Buñuel and Louis Malle, cowriting such classics as Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Le Quai des orfèvres and script-doctoring Marcel Carné’s Les Enfants du paradis. He was the first serious scholar and exegete of the work of Raymond Roussel (on whom he published three books) and a member of the Collège de ’Pataphysique.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Conductor and Other Tales


Fourier, Charles

Charles Fourier (1772–1837) was a proto-feminist, a Surrealist ancestor, a cantankerous cosmologist, a social critic and humorist, and to this day one of France’s truest visionary thinkers. The prophet of the Phalanstery was also a lifelong bachelor.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Hierarchies of Cuckoldry and Bankruptcy


Ghelderode, Michel de

Michel de Ghelderode (Adhémar Adolphe Martens, 1898–1962) was born in Brussels. His strong anti-realist bent was in evidence from the start and he first attracted attention in 1918 with a one-act play written in tribute to Edgar Allan Poe. In the following years he wrote fiction, drama, literary journalism, and puppet plays. After 1936 he suffered from poor health and his involvement with the theater gradually diminished.

Published by Wakefield Press



Huysmans, Joris-Karl

Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848–1907) explored the extremes of human nature and artifice through a series of books that influenced a number of different literary movements: from the grey and grimy Naturalism of books like Marthe and Downstream to the cornerstones of the Decadent movement, Against Nature and the Satanist classic Down There, along with the dream-ridden Surrealist favorite, Becalmed, and his Catholic novels, The Cathedral and The Oblate.

Published by Wakefield Press

A Dilemma

Forthcoming from Wakefield Press



Levy, Louis

Louis Nicolai Levy (1875–1940) was a Danish author, playwright, foreign correspondent, and theater critic who experimented with a wide variety of literary genres, from prose poetry to nursery rhymes to philosophical novels. Though a central literary figure and screenwriter in Copenhagen in the early twentieth century, Levy remains little known today.

Published by Wakefield Press

Kzradock the Onion Man and the Spring-Fresh Methuselah: From the Notes of Dr. Renard de Montpensier


Louÿs, Pierre

Pierre Louÿs (1870–1925) was a best-selling author in his time, and a friend of and influence on such luminaries as André Gide, Paul Valéry, Oscar Wilde, and Stephane Mallarmé. He achieved instant notoriety with Aphrodite and The Songs of Bilitis, and his 1898 novel The Woman and the Puppet has been adapted for the screen in such noteworthy films as Josef von Sternberg’s The Devil Is a Woman and Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire. Since his death, though, his posthumous writings have secured his current renown as France’s greatest, and most prolific, writer of erotica.

Published by Wakefield Press


The Young Girl’s Handbook of Good Manners for Use in Educational Establishments


Mac Orlan, Pierre

Pierre Mac Orlan (1882–1970) was a prolific writer of absurdist tales, adventure novels, flagellation erotica, and essays, as well as the composer of a trove of songs made famous by the likes of Juliette Gréco. A member of both the Académie Goncourt and the Collège de ’Pataphysique, Mac Orlan was admired by everyone from Raymond Queneau and Boris Vian to André Malraux and Guy Debord.

Published by Wakefield Press

A Handbook for the Perfect Adventurer

Mademoiselle Bambù


Marino, Giambattista

Italian poet and adventurer Giambattista Marino (1569–1625) was deemed “the king of his age,” and his very name came to define the style of an epoch: marinismo, a shorthand summation of the bizarre inventiveness and ornate excesses of Baroque poetry. In and out of jail, and escaping an assassination attempt by a rival, Marino spent a good part of his life in Northern Italy and France before returning to his birthplace of Naples.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Massacre of the Innocents


Martinet, Jean-Pierre

Largely ignored during his lifetime, Jean-Pierre Martinet (1944–1993) explored the grimly humorous possibilities of limitless pessimism in a handful of psychosexual novels of horror and madness that are only now establishing him as the French successor to Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Jim Thompson.

Published by Wakefield Press

The High Life


Michaux, Henri

Through travel journals, prose poems, seismographic drawings, and incantatory exorcisms, Henri Michaux (1899–1984) built a unique world of aggression, fear, hostility, and paranoia, whose fantastical lineaments and fabulist beings offer a number of uncomfortably familiar mirrors to our own contemporary psychological and cognitive discomfort. In 1956 he continued his controlled explorations of the self with a series of mescaline experiments, which he documented in a number of books over the following decade.

Published by Wakefield Press

Life in the Folds


Mühsam, Erich

Erich Mühsam (1878–1934) was a German-Jewish anarchist writer, poet, playwright, and cabaret songwriter, as well as a fierce satirist of the Nazi Party. He played a key role in the short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic, championed the rights of women and homosexuals, advocated for free love and vegetarianism, and opposed capitalism and war. He was brutally murdered in the Oranienburg concentration camp.

Published by Wakefield Press

Psychology of the Rich Aunt: Being an Inquiry, in Twenty-Five Parts, into the Question of Immortality



Mentioned in his day in the same breath as Kafka, Mynona, aka Salomo Friedlaender (1871–1946), was a perfectly functioning split personality: a serious philosopher by day (author of Friedrich Nietzsche: An Intellectual Biography and Kant for Kids) and a literary absurdist by night, who composed black humored tales he called Grotesken. His friends and fans included Martin Buber, Walter Benjamin, and Karl Kraus.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Creator

The Unruly Bridal Bed and Other Grotesques

My Papa and the Maid of Orléans and Other Grotesques


Panizza, Oskar

Oskar Panizza (1853–1921) was a German psychiatrist turned avant-garde author. In 1894 he published his notorious play The Love Council: “A Heavenly Tragedy in Five Acts” for which he was charged with 93 counts of blasphemy and served a year in prison. He subsequently moved to Zurich, he published a journal, Zurich Discussions, the majority of which he wrote himself under a series of pennames. After being expelled from Switzerland, he relocated to Paris, and then spent the last sixteen years of his life in a Bavarian mental institution.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Pig in Poetic, Mythological, and Moral-Historical Perspective


Perec, Georges

Georges Perec (1936–1982) was a French novelist, essayist, and filmmaker whose linguistic talents ranged from fiction to crossword puzzles to authoring the longest palindrome ever written. Winner of the prix Renaudot in 1965 for his first novel Things, and the prix Médicis in 1978 for Life A User’s Manual, Perec was also a member of the Oulipo, a group of writers and mathematicians devoted to the discovery and use of constraint to encourage literary inspiration.

Published by Wakefield Press

An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris



Péret, Benjamin

Benjamin Péret (1899–1959) was a Surrealist’s Surrealist, audaciously baroque and incessantly irreverent, a founding member of the Surrealist movement and its only member besides André Breton to remain a Surrealist to the end. He was Salvador Dalí’s favorite poet, an inspiration to Luis Buñuel, and a major influence on Octavio Paz. Péret fought in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the Durutti Column, but also fought every literary current he came up against in his lifetime. He was a fierce antinationalist, a true revolutionary, and a lifelong insulter of priests.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Leg of Lamb: Its Life and Works


Ponge, Francis

Francis Ponge (1899–1988) was both a giant of French twentieth-century poetry, and one of its humblest practitioners. The poet of “things,” he practiced a poetic contemplation—usually in the form of his own unique brand of hesitant, searching prose poem—of the everyday objects that inhabit our lives and share our existence. He did not so much reinvent the shell, cigarette, soap, pebble, sun, oyster, or the asparagus, as forge and share with them a new language.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Table


Prassinos, Gisèle

Gisèle Prassinos (1920–2015) was discovered and celebrated at the age of fourteen by the Surrealists, and her stories were immediately embraced by the Parisian avant-garde community and published in all the significant literary journals of the time. With World War II, Prassinos stopped publishing and began to distance herself from the Surrealists. Writing nothing from 1944 to 1954, she then returned to literature with a series of novels and stories that, if still imbued with a Surrealist sensibility, pointed to a new direction in her writing.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Arthritic Grasshopper: Collected Stories, 1934–1944


Quignard, Pascal

Pascal Quignard (b. 1948) is the French author of over sixty books of fiction, essays, and his own particular genre of philosophical reflection: an amalgamation of personal journal, historical narrative, and poetic theory. His books in English include Albucius, All the World’s Mornings, The Sexual Night, Sex and Terror, On Wooden Tablets: Apronenia Avitia, and The Salon in Wurttemberg, as well as the multiple volumes of his ongoing book project The Last Kingdom, which to date includes The Roving Shadows, The Silent Crossing, and Abysses.

Published by Wakefield Press

A Terrace in Rome


Reverdy, Pierre

Pierre Reverdy (1889–1960) was a reclusive, yet integral component of the early twentieth-century Parisian avant-garde: a friend to painters such as Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, and Juan Gris, and to fellow “Cubist poets” such as Guillaume Apollinaire and Max Jacob. He was to have an influence as a poet and as the editor of the landmark WWI literary journal, Nord–Sud, and on other avant-garde movements, Surrealism in particular. In 1926, Reverdy withdrew from the literary life of Paris for a life of seclusion in the village of Solesmes in the northwest of France.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Thief of Talant


Ribemont-Dessaignes, Georges

Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes (1884–1974) was a French writer and artist, and one of the fiercest adherents of the Paris Dada movement, for which he authored some of its most vitriolic texts. Disenchanted with the Surrealist movement that followed, Ribemont-Dessaignes allied himself instead with such other Surrealist dissidents as René Daumal and the Grand Jeu. Throughout his long life, Ribemont-Dessaignes authored a sizable oeuvre of novels, plays, poetry, essays and memoirs, none of which has to date been translated into English.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Emperor of China, The Mute Canary & The Executioner of Peru


Scheerbart, Paul

Paul Scheerbart (1863–1915) was a novelist, playwright, poet, newspaper critic, draughtsman, visionary, proponent of glass architecture, and would-be inventor of perpetual motion. Dubbed the “wise clown” by his contemporaries, he opposed the naturalism of his day with fantastical fables and interplanetary satires that were to influence Expressionist authors and the German Dada movement, and which helped found German science fiction.

Published by Wakefield Press

Lesabéndio: An Asteroid Novel

The Perpetual Motion Machine: The Story of an Invention

Rakkóx the Billionnaire & The Great Race

The Stairway to the Sun & Dance of the Comets

Forthcoming from Wakefield Press

Munchausen and Clarissa: A Berlin Novel


Schmitz, Oscar A. H.

Oscar A. H. Schmitz (1873–1931) lived the life of a literary dandy. Although best remembered in Germany for his second book, Hashish, and the decadent lineage it helped inaugurate in German letters, his output was wide-ranging, from Romantic verse to plays and travel books, to a series of popular nonfiction works on politics, yoga, astrology, etiquette, and Jungian psychology. He died in 1931 of liver disease.

Published by Wakefield Press



Schwob, Marcel

Marcel Schwob (1867–1905) was a scholar of startling breadth and an incomparable storyteller. The secret influence on generations of writers, from Guillaume Apollinaire and Jorge Luis Borges to Roberto Bolaño, Schwob was as versed in the street slang of medieval thieves as he was in the poetry of Walt Whitman (whom he introduced into French). Paul Valéry and Alfred Jarry both dedicated their first books to him, and in doing so paid tribute to the man who could evoke both the intellect of Leonardo da Vinci and the anarchy of Ubu Roi.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Book of Monelle

The Children’s Crusade

Imaginary Lives

The King in the Golden Mask


Varo, Remedios

Remedios Varo (1908–1963) was a Spanish-born painter who entered the Surrealist circle in Paris before the German occupation forced her into exile to Mexico at the end of 1941, where she would stay until the end of her life. Her dream-infused, allegorical work combines the elements of classical training, alchemical mysticism, and fairy-tale science.

Published by Wakefield Press

Letters, Dreams & Other Writings


Willems, Paul

Paul Willems (1912–1997) published his first novel, Everything Here is Real, in 1941. Three more novels and, toward the end of his life, two collections of short stories bracketed his career as a playwright. Influenced early on by the tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, his work came to be characterized by a distinctly northern brand of magic realism: a distinctly Belgian confrontation with a perpetual crisis of identity and the poetic pessimism that underlies every journey into paradise, imagined or otherwise.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Cathedral of Mist


Wittkop, Gabrielle

Self-styled heir to the Marquis de Sade, Gabrielle Wittkop (1920–2002) was a French author who wrote a remarkable series of novels and travelogues, all laced with sardonic humor and dark sexuality, with recurrent themes of death, decay, disease, and decrepitude. After meeting Justus Wittkop, a German deserter, in Paris under the Occupation, she hid him from the Nazis and then married him after the war, in what she described as an “intellectual alliance.” He would commit suicide in 1986, with her approval, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Her first novel, The Necrophiliac, appeared in 1972, but a number of her books have only been made available since her own suicide in 2002, after she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Published by Wakefield Press

Exemplary Departures

Murder Most Serene


Zürn, Unica

Unica Zürn (1916–70) was born in Grünewald, Germany. Toward the end of World War II, she discovered the realities of the Nazi concentration camps—a revelation which was to haunt and unsettle her for the rest of her life. After meeting Hans Bellmer in 1953, she followed him to Paris, where she became acquainted with the Surrealists and developed the body of drawings and writings for which she is best remembered: a series of anagram poems, hallucinatory accounts and literary enactments of the mental breakdowns from which she would suffer until her suicide in 1970.

Published by Wakefield Press

The Trumpets of Jericho