Jules Castier.

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By Jules Gaatier














When M. Castier's manuscript was introduced to
me as the work of one writing in an alien tongue, and
furthermore with the avowed object of parodying the
most famous British writers of the day, I confess I
was not enthusiastic. A glance at a page here and
there, however, aroused my interest, and later I read
it with keen enjoyment.

Having dealt with the rapacities of M. Castier's
literary representatives, I felt that such an unusual
book should be introduced to the public in a somewhat
different manner from that usually adopted. I
therefore determined to send a proof of each parody
to the author parodied. This I did with the following

" I am approaching you on rather an unusual
subject. Some time ago I had submitted to me, as
the work of a young Frenchman, a series of parodies
on the work of leading English writers, which had been
written whilst he was a prisoner in Germany. They
were so remarkable that I became keenly interested,
with the result that I accepted the book for publication.

" What I should like to do is to publish in a foreword
the opinions of the authors who have been parodied,
and to this end I am sending you a set of proofs of
the parody of your own work.



" When I tell you that not so much as a comma
has been altered since the manuscript left the author's
hands, you will appreciate how remarkable it is that
a Frenchman should be able to write so in an alien

" I may add that nearly all the principal writers
of the day are included in the volume. If you can
find time to express your opinion I shall be greatly

The answers I give below in their alphabetical

F. ANSTEY : " To be parodied is for an author
the highest of compliments and one which I have
never previously received. So I have read ' An Officer's
Gefangenenlager ' with much interest and pleasure
and am greatly impressed by its French author's
perfect command of the English language. If my
age had permitted and it had been my fate to be an
officer-prisoner in a German Camp, I can only hope
that I should have been able to describe the surround-
ings with as much humour and effect as my parodist.
But I doubt it."

G. K. CHESTERTON : " It is certainly an ex-
cellent imitation of my writing ; and probably greatly
preferable to the original. I certainly think it a
notable achievement even for the most sympathetic
foreigner ; to write a good translation of what a
man did say involves being a man of letters in two
languages ; but to write a good travesty of what he
might say is a much more remarkable thing ; and I
for one would rather read the travesty than the

JOHN GALSWORTHY : " I liked the wooden
spaniel, and was so glad when he fell and killed the


Frenchman. But what a pity he didn't fall in the
third sentence and kill the parody. They are, surely,
not so easy to make as all that."

CHARLES GARVICE : " The pitfall into which
most parodists are so apt to fall, is that of over-
exaggeration ; too frequently they seize on an obvious
fault or weakness of the writer whose work they are
burlesquing, and harp upon it unduly ; in short, they
are in danger of missing the spirit of their author in
their efforts to belabour, with their jester's bladder,
the superficial defects of his workmanship. Our
parodist avoids this common error and, penetrating
below the surface of his victim's style and mental
processes, parodies with a subtlety which is all the
more remarkable, seeing that it is displayed by a
foreigner, to whom the tortuous peculiarities of our
exasperatingly rich language should be almost incom-
prehensible. If I may say so, I consider that he has
been more merciful to me than I deserve. If I were
parodying my own work, I am sure I could easily be
more cruel than my imitator has been ; this, no doubt,
accounts for my appreciation and enjoyment of the
skit. I can chuckle over the description ' bairns '
and ' colleens,' as applied to Devonshire children ; of
course, the words are never used in that county : I
can smile at the grammatical distortions, the split
infinitives, the divided verbs, while I ask myself, in
fear and trembling, whether I have ever been guilty
of so vapid and uninteresting a story as that which
our jester has attributed to me. Anyway, I have
come to the conclusion that the clever parodist, such
as we have here, is not only an amusing artist, but an
extremely useful one, and that his subject, though he
may writhe under the strokes of the bladder, may be


roused to a sense of his many weaknesses and to a
determination to do better work in the future.

MAURICE HEWLETT : ' It is a long time since
I did the sort of thing parodied by your client, and I
fear that I have lost touch with it as well as savour.
To be perfectly honest I don't think he has got me,
though it is no doubt remarkable that he should do it
at all. Evidently he can write English idiom ; but
there is a gulf fixed between writing like Englishmen
and writing like a particular Englishman."

ROBERT HICHENS: -I have read 'The
Blood of the Call ' and been very much entertained
by it. It is astonishing that a Frenchman could
have written it. He has been specially skilful in
avoiding all gross caricature. The end is delight-
fully absurd and surprising. I hope he will have a
great success with his book."

E. W. HORNUNG : " A parody with a punch :
full of shrewd digs and condign chaff."

JEROME K. JEROME : " It is so long ago that I
wrote anything of this character that I hardly feel
myself to be a judge of the merit. I have the feeling
that I am looking at some strange drawing of myself
as a child. I hope you will understand."

W. W. JACOBS : " I have read the ' Yellow Pipe '
with much interest. If it is the unaided work of a
Frenchman, ' remarkable ' is the only word to applv
to it."

W. J. LOCKE : " I am as much amused by the
shrewd way in which another has seen me as pleased
by the parodist's delicate irony."


LEONARD MERRICK : " If I did not know that
I had never seen ' The Defence of Art ' before the
publishers sent me a proof, I should think that I had
written some of it. I should be a proud man if I could
mimic the style of any French author in any of his
contes half as brilliantly as M. Castier has mimicked
mine in my ' Tricotrin ' tales. But the style of my
1 Tricotrin ' tales is designedly French, and M. Castier
is a Frenchman I wish he had been moved to imitate
my stories of English life, instead ; I wish I needn't
wait till the book is published to read all the other
imitations in it. ' The Defence of Art ' makes me
intensely curious. M. Castier is bilinguous to an
extent that takes one's breath away. Some seven
or eight years ago, a volume of French verse, capti-
vating and delicious, reached me from a young poet
who was a stranger to me ; and the lengthy inscription,
in which the name of Tricotrin figured very agreeably,
was written in such supple English that I stared at it,
astonished. This was the first time I had met with
any of M. Castier 's work. M. Castier himself I have
never met yet. I learn that, since those days, he has
fought and suffered, and been a prisoner in Germany.
I am happy that he still lives. Recalling the qualities
of the poems that he sent to me, I think he will do
work that will live, too."

EDEN PHILLPOTTS: "Excellently done and
quite wonderful I think. You should have a very
entertaining piece of work and may its success rejoice
the amazing author and yourself."

WILLIAM LE QUEUX : " I have read a number
of travesties upon my plots and literary style, but
the story ' The Purple Praline ' is of outstanding
cleverness. ' I am, alas ! only too well aware of my


own faults and idiosyncracies which I trust the public
will forgive. Being, like the writer, of French birth,
my hope always is that my critics will overlook my
ofttimes inferior English. My ' style ' has often been
derided, I know. The fact is that my younger years
were spent in speaking foreign languages. In the
sensational story the plot and its development are the
chief points if one wishes as I always do to keep the
reader interested until the words ' The End.' For
my slips in English grammar I apologise but I cannot
help it. I have admired the story ' The Purple
Praline ' and have laughed heartily over it. My cari-
caturist, who is no doubt a genius, has exactly hit off
the cosmopolitism inherent in my work in the characters
of the Cavaliere Rabbitskini who, I suppose, wears
rabbit skin upon the collar of his coat, which so many
men in Italy wear in winter Nadejda Rubbishska of
' the bejewelled hand ' the name sounds like that of
a street in Petrograd and of the haughty Piotr
Piklovitch Swaggeroff half-brother, most probably
to the Baron Twobobski of a popular revue. And
here I may venture to betray a secret. My secretary,
who has for years read and typed all that I have
written, and who had in her hands the proofs of ' The
Purple Praline ' before I did, passed it across to me
with the remark : ' This is exactly like your work !
It's wonderful ! ' I read it, and agreed with her.
Though many skits upon my books have been published
in English, French, Italian, and German by authors
of those nationalities ' The Purple Praline ' is the
cleverest and most humorous of them all."

G. BERNARD SHAW : This is by miles the most
accurate parody of me I have ever seen, and the only
one that has not completely missed the point of my


rather tortured stage directions, in which my first
rule is to say nothing that could remind the reader that
what is being described is a stage and not a real place."

E. TEMPLE THURSTON : " I was interested to
receive the proofs of your French author's parody of
my work and assume that in asking for an opinion you
cannot expect it will be unbiassed and do not require
it to be anything but honest. For work then of a
Frenchman writing in a language other than his own,
it seems to me a very creditable performance indeed,
I only wish I could write as well in French. Parody
however seems to be an erroneous description of it,
as it seems somewhat lacking in wit which I hold to be
part of the essence of the spirit of parody."

H. A. VACHELL : " I have read the parody with
great interest and much amusement. It's first rate.
If the others are up to sample, I congratulate you on
finding a winner. It is amazing that any foreigner
should handle our language so well and naturally.
Let me know the title, please, of the book when it
appears, as I should like to have a copy. Oddly
enough, ' The Skipper ' was the nickname of one of
the best-known house-masters at Harrow in my time,
old Holmes. Probably your young Frenchman doesn't
know this, or he would have turned it to account."

H. G. WELLS : " No fear."

C. N. WILLIAMSON : " The proofs of the amus-
ing parody on ' The Lightning Conductor ' and ' The
Motor Maid ' have just been forwarded from France.
We both think the parody quite good, and much more
like us than we should ever dare to try and be like
ourselves ! Thank you for sending the proofs, which
I return at once, as I fear the forwarding has caused


delay. Is not the clever French author of the parodies
doing his readers a bad turn in telling them to look for
scenery in Baedeker or Joanne ? We could never find
any there, or in any other guide-book, unless you can
call ' castle on right ; mountain on left ' scenic des-
criptions. Personally, I think for scenery he'd better
send them to our books ! "



ON December 2nd, 1914, I had the misfortune to
be captured by the Germans in Alsace, and remained
a prisoner till after the Armistice was signed. After
a few uneventful months at Heidelberg, I came into
collision with the authorities, and remained so till
the end, passing through a series of imprisonments,
court-martials, more imprisonments, reprisals and the
like : I was even tried once (and sentenced) for high
treason. My greatest solace lay in reading whenever
I was allowed books ; and I hit upon the idea of
attempting to parody some of the authors for amuse-
ment's sake. When next in a period of comparative
liberty, I read some of my stuff to some English
comrades, who were kind enough to express their
satisfaction, and to advise me to seek publication
which I did.

My publisher tells me I should explain this (which
I do a mon corps defendant), also that I am a French-
man, and that not so much as a comma in my M.S.
has been altered since it left my hands. He no doubt
has his own very good reasons for imposing upon
me the irksome task of endeavouring to explain


myself. For this explanation and for the parodies
themselves, I beg to tender my apologies to all

J. C.


July, 1919.






LOCKE, W. J. .


. An Officer's Gefangenen- 168

lager in Germany
. A Tetralogy (i.) . 174

. The Sinner . . . 255
. What's Maddening about

Man . . .76
. Dam 'im a Reminis-
cence . . .153
. The Double Soul . . 265
. The Footprints on the

Ceiling . . . 91
. Punishment . . . 249
. The Power of Love . 283
A Tetralogy (iv.) . 195

A Tetralogy (ii.) . 180

Lore of Narcissus . .31
The Blood of the Call . 40
Two of a Trade . . 56
The Yellow Pipe . . 82
The Outlook . . 241
The Stage Student . 234
The Song of the Penny

Whistle . .27

The Purple Praline . 272

The Heart of a Bachelor 105





LEY ....
WELLS, H. G. .

A. M.



The Rival Calls . . 222

The Defence of Art 17

The Reapers . . 204

Admiral Life . . 244

A Tetralogy (iii.) . 186

Buck Up . . 246

The Exploiters . . 226

The Motor Car . . 37

The Lamp . . .38

Languages . . .38

Happy Thought . . 38

Books . . . -39

Susan and Her German
Sausage . . .126

The Father of Beautiful
Hope . . .62

The Skipper . . 159

The Finding of Laura . 116
On Murder Considered as
a Fine Art . 68

The First Heaven . 133




TRICOTRIN, the celebrated poet, whose
verses every publisher in Paris had rejected
scores of times, felt moody and irritable
as he climbed up the familiar stairs to his garret
in the Rue des Trois-Freres. And yet, extra-
ordinary as it may appear, his anger was not
due to his being out of funds : had he not just
partaken of a luxurious dinner at the " Faisan
d'Or," the splendid one franc fifty dinner that makes
half Montmartre's mouth water ? Why, had he not
the tremendous sum of eighteen francs thirty in his
bulging trousers pocket?, the remains of a brand-
new louis he had changed at the aforesaid " Faisan
d'Or " of course, he knew how to live, is it not ; he
had flicked the delighted garc.on the royal pourboire
of twenty centimes. . . . No, his anger was not due to
want of funds, any more than to amorous depression :
had not Josephine, the new girl behind the counter of


Madame Estelle's, the fashionable modiste in the
Rue Lepic, smiled caressingly on him that very after-
noon ?

Yet it is a fact that he felt cross ; it is a fact that he
viciously kicked open the door of the little room he
shared with Pitou, the no less famed composer ; and
that he flung himself on to his bed, at the immediate
peril of a complete collapse of that useful article of
furniture, which lacked a couple of legs, and was only
kept in its proper position by means of a pile of odd
manuscripts (de Fronsac was wont to declare that these
manuscripts were nothing but the " declined with
thanks " slips which Tricotrin reaped at random from
all possible publishing places).

" My old one," said Pitou, " mind the furniture !
And kindly avoid disturbing me just now : I have
hit upon a fine motif for my Blue Symphony. It will
make all Paris flock to Colonne's ! "

" I fish myself of your symphony ! " dejectedly
replied the poet. " It may well go hang, for all I care
yes, and the whole of Paris may go hang with it ! "

" What have you ? " The composer's query was
full of wonder. " You are not hungry you told me
you had a louis. I have never known you have the
toothache ; and you don't look like a man with the
toothache. Is it is it your uncle from Lyons ? "

" No, it is not my uncle from Lyons," moaned
Tricotrin, slowly moving into a sitting posture. " It
is that confounded pig of Delorme."

" Delorme, the editor of La Gazette ? " broke in
Pitou, hardly believing his ears.

" Himself."

" My friend, I must compliment you on your
connections ! Why, I myself would not dare even to
submit my Sunshine Nocturne to Delorme ! "


" Of course, you fool, La Gazette doesn't publish
music ! But Delorme is the most heartless camel I
ever came across."

" What did he do ? Reject a poem ? "
" If that were all, I shouldn't be so angry about
him," petulantly replied Tricotrin. " No, he actually
played a fool's joke on me he offered himself my
head the cow ! "

" Tell me all," begged the composer ; " your
cruel story may inspire me with a heartrending end
for my new opera."

Thus adjured, Tricotrin related his misadventure :
" Imagine to yourself, my friend, that this very
morning, after you had gone out, a messenger boy
brought me a petit bleu from the great Delorme him-
self ! I could hardly believe my own eyes but there
was the blue envelope, and inside it, staring me in the
face, the yellow note-paper with the heading of
La Gazette \ Yes, rny friend, the editor the pig
did me the honour of begging me to call upon him
at three o'clock in the afternoon he would then
be happy to give me some information concerning
my poem, " The Deathless Motor-Car," in fifteen
cantos, which I had been kind enough to submit to
La Gazette . . . Yes, I had sent them my " Deathless
Motor-Car " ; it had been declined by all the so-called
1 literary ' periodicals more fools they ! and I had
to send it somewhere. . . . Well, here I was then,
this morning, my old one, on the verge of celebrity.
My verse was going to appear in the largest Paris
halfpenny paper ! Picture to yourself my triumph !
I was great, I was renowned ! "

" Go on," growled Pitou, " I want to hear the end ! "

" Well, naturally I called at the Gazette offices

you know, near that temple of pecuniary gods, the


Bourse. Equally naturally, I had dressed as smartly
as a poet should be dressed : I had Lajeunie's topper,
Flamant's gloves, and Sanquereau's black tie. . . .
Verlaine himself could not have looked more artistic
than I, when I was ushered into Delorme's private
office. ... It was marked private on the door, at any
rate, although there were about half a dozen other
men lounging round Delorme's desk. . . . Imagine
my joy, my dear one, when I recognised these men as
the editors of important papers. Yes, there was
Lempereur, of the Franpais, and Saulanne, of Le
Demi-Mot, and Dulac, of La Folie Parisienne and
two or three equally chic ! My friend, I felt my
fortune was made. . . . Here is my friend Delorme,
thought I, who wishes to set a crown upon my budding
reputation, by introducing me to his colleagues
I am to enjoy a sort of Roman triumph before. . . ."

" Never mind the triumph," heartlessly broke in
the composer, " come on to the fall."

"My friend, I did fall I fell from high! . . .
Delorme rose and picked up a large foolscap manu-
script from his desk my ' Deathless Motor-Car ! '
He walked across to the other editors, and just as I
was already hearing his words of praise in my mind's
ears, he suddenly burst out : ' Yes, that's the fool,
gentlemen, who dares waste some of my time, with his
rhymed trash.' . . . He actually said rhymed trash,
the brute ! . . . 'I wished you to see him for yourself,
so that you might all know M. Gustave Tricotrin for
the future, and be ready, if necessary, to place his
productions in their only proper sphere.' . . . And
he had the ' culot ' to chuck my poem into his waste-
paper basket the beast ! The others laughed
the pigs ! Oh, my friend, how sad I felt how I pitied
these brutes who could not be stirred by the immortal


beauties of my verses ! . . . Still, I did not break
down no, Gustave Tricotrin knows how to be strong
in the hour of need ; I snatched my stanzas from
their ignoble resting-place, flung these camels a
scathing glance, and marched out of the house without
honouring them with a single word. My silence was
more eloquent than their abuse : my friend, I felt as
a lion-tarner leaving a cage of wild beasts ! . . . But
when I was outside, sadness began to fall upon me : my
dream was gone, my prospects ruined, my triumph-
exploded ! I wandered wearily through some streets
but nothing can console me neither the bustle and
life of the city, nor the calm of Montmartre, nor
the wiles of Josephine, nor the wine of ' Le Faisan
d'Or.' . . . My friend, I thirst for revenge I will
and shall pay out that pig of Delorme ! Not till then
will I be able to write another verse ! "

After this outburst, the young poet heaved a deep
sigh, and fell back at full length on the bed, thereby
causing a three-legged bottomless chair to fall with
a clatter that would no doubt have made an excellent
thunder effect at the little Theatre Montmartre close
by, but which the luckless composer found fatal to the
inspiration of his symphony. Indeed, all thought of his
own art had by now left Pitou, who began to smart
at the slight done to Art in general, in the person of
his unhappy friend. Are not all artists brothers ?
A poet, a composer he who insults the one does
an injury to the other, and it is fitting that he should
be subject to their united wrath. . . .

" Say then," muttered Pitou, after a heavy silence,
" if Goujaud and I were to call upon this pig of an
editor, and to make a suitable oppointment for a
meeting at the Pare des Princes ? Goujaud has a
pair of swords, and he would. ..."


"No," listlessly muttered the poet, "I do not
commit myself with merchants ! He is but a vendor
of blackened paper I am an immortal singer : my
dear one, a god may not thrash a clown ! "

" And yet," muttered Pitou, " a god condescended
to thrash a composer; did not a certain Apollo . . ."

" My old one, you do him too great an honour
by comparing him to Marsyas. Marsyas could sing
he can but croak. . . Besides, he has not only
made me angry, he has offered himself my head. . .
Therefore, there is but one thing for me to do : to
offer myself his ! "

" Good! ' exclaimed the composer, " but how ? "

The two young men sat up late that night, dis-
cussing the weighty problem. By a stroke of good
luck, Pitou discovered a bottle under his bed a
bottle of " Bourgogne Superieur," not quite empty, a
relic, no doubt, of the marriage banquet of little
Lisette and Touquet, the costumier at the corner of
the Rue des Martyrs. The bottle had cost as much
as one franc twenty perhaps even more and the
liquid ruby seemed to set Tricotrin's head afire.
When he did retire to rest at last the moodiness had
completely left him, and Pitou was as joyful as when
he had composed his immortal comic song, " Partant
pour le Moulin," for that fickle goddess Paulette
Fleury. . . . Had they not their plan, the subtle plan
by which they would fool the great Delorme, and show
him that a vile merchant may not in vain deride Art
and her noble priests ? Ha ! He had dared publicly
to raise a laugh at Tricotrin ? Well, now Tricotrin
and Pitou were going to get all Paris to laugh at him,

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Online LibraryJules CastierRather like... : some endeavours to assume the mantles of the great → online text (page 1 of 18)