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Les Hommes d'aujourd'hui, 431




Person cited Émile Verhaeren
Drawings by Théo Van Rysselberghe
Text by Francis Vielé-Griffin


The collection of Les Hommes D'Aujourd'hui was founded in September 1878 by André Gill and Félicien Champsaur. The journal was first published by Cinqualbre (until 1883), then by Léon Vanier after two years of interruption. The last publication appeared in 1899. André Breton posessed 27 numbers of the collection.

The review was originally inspired by the successful journal, Le Bulletin de vote, published in collaboration with the journalist Maxime Rude which was a collection of illustrated biographies, promoting the republican candidats in the legislative elections of October 1877. The collection of Les Hommes d'aujourd'hui strays from militant politics; each number (containing 4 pages) is devoted to a different contemporary figure belonging to the world of arts, literature or science. A colorful portrait of the spotlight celebrity is on each cover, followed by three pages of text, sometimes satirical. These texts are playful, written in jest, and are composed of contemporaneous and fantastic elements.

When Léon Vanier took over the publication in 1885, he would finalize the element of caracature for the series (André Gill and Henri Demare were the consecutive authors of the first portraits). Among the graphic artists that would join, would be Théo Van Rysselberghe, who has drawn the portrait of Émile Verhaeren on the cover of issue number 431. The poet is wearing his habitual red jacket and is leaning on a table while his large moustache extends outwards:

"The poet must only let hisself be overcome, at this hour, by what he sees, hears, imagines, believes, for that his nascent works, quivering, new, will make their way out of his heart and his mind" (Georges Le Carbonnel and Charles Vellay, La littérature contemporaine, « Réponse de Verhaeren »)

Don't be suprised by the inconspicuous toad on the desk: the poet has written his double in the following poem "Like all the other nights" (« Comme tous les soirs ») :

Le vieux crapaud de la nuit glauque / The old toad of the murky night

Vers la lune de fiel et d'or, / Towards the moon of bile and gold,

C'est lui, là-bas, dans les roseaux, / Its him, over there in the reeds,

La morne bouche à fleur des eaux, /  The glum mouth just above the water,

Qui rauque. / That ribbits.

Là-bas, dans les roseaux, / Over there, in the reeds,

Ces yeux immensément ouverts / His eyes wide open,

Sur les minuits de l'univers, / On the midnights of the universe,

C'est lui, dans les roseaux, / Its him, in the reeds,

Le vieux crapaud de mes sanglots. / The old toad of my tears,

Quand les taches des stellaires poisons / When the marks of stellar poisons,

Mordent le plomb des horizons / Bite the lead of horizons,

- Ecoute, il se râpe du fer par l'étendue - / - Listen, it sounds like he is rasping iron-

C'est lui, cette toujours voix entendue, / Its him, that voice always heard,

Là-bas dans les roseaux. / Over there in the reeds.

Monotones, à fleur des eaux, / Monotone, just above the water,

Monotones, comme des gonds, / Monotone, like a hinge,

Monotones, s'en vont les sons / Monotone, there goes the sound,

Monotones, par les automnes. /  Monotone, through the fall.

Les nuits ne sont pas assez longues / The nights don't last long enough

Pour que tarissent les diphtongues, / to put an end to the diphthongs,

Toutes les mêmes, de ces sons, / All the same, are these sounds,

Qui se frôlent comme des gonds. / That grind like hinges,

Ni les noroîts assez stridents, / Neither the northwesterly winds are too strident

Ni les hivers assez mordants / nor the winters too biting

Avec leur triple rang de dents, / With their triple row of teeth,

Gel, givre et neige, / Frost, ice and snow,

Afin que plus ne montent en cortège /  So that none may no longer ride in procession

Les lamentables lamentos / The lamentable laments

Du vieux crapaud de mes sanglots. / Of the old toad of my tears.

Bibliographical materialBreton Sale, 2003, lot 1107. Paris, Librarie Vanier, 1890. In-4° soft cover.
ISSNL 1147-677X
Date of publication 1878
Publicationfirst publication
PublisherLibrairie Vanier, Paris
Breton Auction, 2003Lot 1107
Keywords, ,
SetJournaux et revues, [Journal] Les Hommes d'aujourd'hui
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