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Nineteenth-century France spawned numerous 'fous litteraires', one of the most fascinating being Jean-Pierre Brisset (1837-1919). An individualist par excellence, he dismantled the existing French tongue, reshaping it to suit his own grandiose purpose, which was that of explaining the development of human beings from frogs and of their language from croaks. Continuous and ubiquitous punning was a unique feature of his writing. In this study, Walter Redfern examines such themes as the nature of literary madness, the phenomenon of deadpan humour, the role of analogy, and the place of institutional religion in Brisset's inventive rewriting of the Creation.
Walter Redfern is Professor of French Studies at the University of Reading.
Legenda, European Humanities Research Center, Unversity of Oxford.