Fictional Painters of 1926

Weird_Tales_February_1928Ok, here’s some historical literary trivia for you. What do HP Lovecraft and Evelyn Waugh have in common apart from a deeply ingrained conservatism and a healthy dose of snobbery?

Well, both created fictional painters active in 1926. Lovecraft came up with Monsieur Ardois-Bonnot, a French painter who “… hangs a blasphemous Dream Landscape in the Paris spring salon of 1926”, for his short story The Call of Cthulhu.

Ardois-Bonnot is an example of the worldwide psychic disturbances signifying the reappearance of the alien god. Cthulhu is obviously an art lover.

Waugh’s contribution is Monsieur Jean de Brissac la Motte who appears in his novel Brideshead Revisited. De Brissac la Motte joins the narrator and friends in London at the time of the 1926 General Strike. He ends up in hospital after an elderly widow drops a flower pot on his head from a top floor window.

“We were joined by a Belgian Futurist, who lived under the, I think, assumed name of Jean de Brissac la Motte, and claimed the right to bear arms in any battle anywhere against the lower classes.” 

Paratexts and Minor Characters

They’re both very minor characters, barely walk-on parts. I’m surprised that in today’s self-devouring, self-referencing culture no-one’s written a book or graphic novel about one or both. Perhaps they could team up to fight crime.

So much of our culture is self-referential cannibalism. We sample music, we sample films, we mash up. The speed of communication (thank you internet) means we create something, expand it, parody mercilessly, and meld it with unrelated cultural constructs in a matter of days. Hours maybe.

tintin2Originality is objectively difficult as hell. Some say impossible. Is deluding yourself you’re being original better or worse than luxuriating in vulturing the corpse?  God knows. But combine it with an inexhaustible hunger for new product and we’ll find out pretty soon. The well might run dry.

A priceless mummy with rumoured magic powers is missing from the Egyptology section of the Louvre Museum in Paris. A ransom note demands independence for the colonies in exchange for its return. The police are baffled, the government paralysed. Inspector Lacroix calls in a Franco-Belgian duo who’ve  saved the day before. De Brissac la Motte thinks a gang of Bolsheviks is behind the theft. But can he rouse Ardois-Bonnot from his opium slumber in time to save the Francophone world?

For more warlike weirdness, you can buy my  books in paperback or ebook:

Katanga 1960-63: Mercenaries, Spies and the African Nation that Waged War on the World  [or amazon.com]

and

Franco’s International Brigades: Adventurers, Fascists, and Christian Crusaders in the Spanish Civil War [or amazon.com]

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