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Un autre monde; transformations, visions, incarnations … et autres choses

J.J. Grandville
Paris; H. Fournier

Grandville’s reputation as an illustrator was growing as was his marketability. At this time in Paris, the average skilled worker’s net worth was 950 francs, compared to Grandville’s net worth of 53,000 francs. He received a publisher’s commission to work on a book of 36-installments, titled Un Autre Monde, published in 1844. The complete title translates into English as Another World: Transformations, Visions, Incarnations, Ascensions, Locomotions, Explorations, Peregrinations, Excursions, Vacations, Caprices, Cosmologies, Reveries, Whimsies, Phantasmagorias, Apotheosies, Zoomorphisms, Lithomorphosies, Metamorphoses, and Other Things. Grandville’s artistic importance is especially demonstrated in this book, as the publisher allowed him to complete the illustrations before adding the text. This work is considered his most important and influential work, influencing later artists and illustrators, such as Salvador Dali and Walt Disney. The book did not receive positive reviews at the time of publication, considered inaccessible to his public, bizarre, and which greatly alarmed his friends.

The title page image shows the embarkation of Le Charge, Caricature, and La Fantasie, Imagination, leaving the ancient world for another world.

Un autre monde tells the nonsensical story of Dr Puff, a religious philosopher of Neo-Paganism and his two accomplices, Krackq, a naval man, known as a Professor of Swimming, and Hahblle, an unsuccessful choirmaster and composer, setting off to explore the universe. They cross into other worlds via interplanetary bridges, planning to eventually publish their travel account. The three travelers observe conflicts in several new worlds, essentially a satire and parody of the recent French history.

The monumental initials of J.J. Grandville provide the setting for the “Epilogue” that tells the story of an argument between the pencil and the pen, i.e. image and text. Note the minuscule shadowed name of the author of the text, Delord, under the G. The knife makes the combatants stop fighting and they agree to say, “I swear that Un autre monde is a masterpiece.” The knife concludes by saying “This is the best possible epilogue.”

This important book was generously donated to the W.T. Bandy Center for Baudelaire and Modern French Studies by Emeritus Professor James Patty of the French & Italian at Vanderbilt University.