Paulin Gagne

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Paulin Gagne

Étienne-Paulin Gagne, known as Paulin Gagne (June 8, 1808 – August 1876) was a French poet, essayist, lawyer, politician, inventor, and eccentric whose best known poem, The Woman-Messiah, is among the longest poems in French, or any language.[1] The poem is 25,000 verses (60 acts and 12 songs) and is notable for its 24th act entitled Bestiologie which enumerates the advantages that a citizen of Paris would have by marrying the animals of the Jardin des Plantes. He is also notable for proposing "Anthropophagy" at a public meeting and offering himself as food to starving Algerians.

Biography[edit]

Gagne was born in Montoison on June 8, 1808, of a family which soon reestablished itself in Montélimar. Early on he established himself as a lawyer and, after moving to Paris, lost his only lawsuit.

In the 1850s, he moved back to Montélimar, and turned to prose and poetry after giving up law. His writings focused primarily on bizarre and burlesque social and political matters. He spent time as a minor politician and the creator of an unsuccessful journal entitled Hope. Much more success came with his second publication entitled The Theatre of the World in which contained some good articles, but none by his own hand. Shortly afterwards, Gagne wrote, The Woman-Messiah, one of his many immensely long poems. During this time he also invented a universal language he named "La Gagne-monopanglotte" which never spread outside himself.

In 1863, he moved back to Paris, in an accentuated eccentric state. He began to publish primarily in supernatural journals. One such journal, Uniter of the Visible and Invisible World, published his article in which Gagne proves the intervention of Satan in the séance.

Towards the end of the Second French Empire, Gagne became more lavished in public meetings, where he would make speeches on socialism, anti-monarchy, and other similar subjects. Often he would organize strange political demonstrations at which he was the only participator. Many of his antics brought on laughter, but he was always a perpetual candidate for parliament. Gagne consistently took the radical route. In 1868, during an Algerian Famine, when his cries for hippophagy were not reciprocated he asked for anthropophagy. He called for legislature that would prevent the famine by making the Algerians eat all elderly persons in France over the age of 60, including himself.

The Comte de Lautreamont is known to have read Gagne. In Lautreamont's Poesies, Gagne is grouped with twelve tragic poets (including Lord Byron and Goethe.) Gagne has also been compared to Goriot, one of the main characters of Balzac's Le Père Goriot.

Quotes[edit]

  • "A human being over sixty is neither useful nor ornamental, and to prove that I mean what I say, I am willing to give myself as food to my sublime and suffering townsmen."

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dictionnaire universel des contemporains Volume 1 - Page 723 Gustave Vapereau - 1870 "GAGNE (Paulin), littérateur français, né à Montoison (Drôme), le 8 juin 1808, étudia le droit et se fit recevoir avocat à Paris, mais s'occupa surtout d'écrire des brochures et des vers de circonstance."

Secondary literature[edit]

  • Comte de Lautreamont (trans. Lykiard]: "Maldoror", pp. 238, 311.
  • Dictionnaire biographique et biblio-iconographique de la Drôme by Justin Brun-Durand, p. 350-351 (French)
  • An Englishman in Paris (Notes and Recollections) by Albert Dresden Vandam, p. 390 (English)
  • Dictionnaire biographique et biblio-iconographique de la Drôme by Justin Brun-Durand, p. 350-351 (French)
  • Polybiblion: Revue bibliographique universelle by Société bibliographique, p. 274-275 (French)
  • The Prix Volney by Joan Leopold, p. 265 (English)