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But the texts in Le Petit Journal all contain various levels of reference and humor. The composite portrait of “our contemporaries” is surrounded by a border of monkey skeletons in humorous poses and sits next to a punning sheet announcing the journal’s intentions. On the next page the “redacteur in chief” is portrayed in a silhouette cut to the likeness of a sweet young kewpie-haired child, while black and white tears surround its sweet curls amid a flurry of rejection letters. Here the Journal is mocking the literary life of ladies who lunch ensemble, go home and sigh over their writing desks, and then send out their sentimental poems for review. The names on the pieces and the rejection notices are often taken from Burgess’s own tales, stories of Princess Perilla or Phyllida or the inimitable Vivette. His circle of references is always closed, and closing in, with a claustrophobic sense that the literary universe is a sort of no exit, in which one recycles one’s reputation and pieces endlessly.

The next piece, surrounded by a border of scraggly black cats and spiders, titled “The Ghost of a Flea,” is a druggy dreamscape musing with only remote relation to the Blake reference. The journals the piece has been rejected from included The American Journal of Insanity , a real publication that later morphed into The American Journal of Psychiatry, The Purple Cow, The Chap Book (Will Bradley’s well-known publication), and The Anthropophagian (of which not a trace remains outside this mention). The American Journal of Insanity was published by the Officers of the New York State Lunatic Asylum, Utica, Volume 1, 1844-45, until July 1921, when it changed its name. Will Bradley published Bradley: His Book from 1896 to 1898, devoted to “Art, Literature, and Printing.” (External Link) . “The Naughty Archer,” a poem about shooting angels set in a mixture of metal fonts, was purportedly refused by The Salvation Army publication, “The War Cry,” as well as “The Congregationalist,” another religious tract. For information on The War Cry, www. salvationarmy usa.org and (External Link) . The poem is framed by a proto-cubist landscape, composed entirely of geometric forms and figures, in which not a single hopping or yelling cherub can be spotted. The “clubbing list” of “The Complete Alphabet of Freaks” includes those who come in for attack (like the pirating publisher Mosher of Maine), and those acclaimed (like Beardsley, writer “Stevie Crane,” or the American designer and artist Will Bradley). Thomas B. Mosher, of Maine, referred to as “the pirate publisher” on account of his practices of appropriating the work of authors without recompense, was the publisher of The Bibelot, which he identified as A reprint of poetry and prose for book lovers, chosen in part from scarce editions and sources not generally known.” (External Link) . The inventory is real. The circles and circumferences of the artistic world are actual, and for Burgess, at least, the idea of a work already incorporates the horizons of reception into those of production. No artistic work exists in a void, autonomous and independent. All are part of that cycle of borrowings, derivations, and cross referencing. Le Petit Journal marks the coordinates of that artistic sphere explicitly.

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Source:  OpenStax, Le petit journal des refusées. OpenStax CNX. Jun 03, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10709/1.1
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