# 24550

PROUILLE, Marcel, et Charles MOULIÉ [pseuds. of ORMOY, Marcel and Thierry SANDRE

[ANTI-NEGRITUDE; LITERARY HOAXES] Les poésies de Makoko Kangourou

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/ publiées par Marcel Prouille et Charles Moulié ; avec un frontispice de Guy Tollac. Paris : Dorbon Aîné, 1910. First edition. Octavo (203 x 147 mm), publisher’s printed wrappers (sunned, paper splits at head and foot of spine), illustrated frontispiece, 59 pp; most pages uncut; light foxing to edges and endpapers; a very good copy.

The publishers’ names, Marcel Prouille and Charles Moulié, are the pseudonyms of writers Marcel Ormoy and Thierry Sandre, respectively. They claim in their preface that the ten poems in this collection were penned by a Liberian poet, Makoko Kangourou; the poems were, in fact, written jointly by Ormoy and Sandre, the fictitious Makoko Kangourou being a creation of Ormoy. The frontispiece illustration is by Frantz Calot (under the pseudonym Guy Tollac), and is a portrait of the supposed poet, depicted as a black savage wearing a laurel wreath and toga. The racist French colonial joke is, of course, that Makoko Kangourou’s poems are the work of a primitive, semi-literate African whose French syntax and grammar are appalling, yet who is revered as a great writer in his homeland. Ormoy and Sandre even supply footnotes to the poems to lend the publication an air of mock gravitas, as well as including a nonsense poem, Honoloulou, supposedly written in Makoko Kangourou’s native tongue.

The composer Francis Poulenc was inspired by Les poésies de Makoko Kangourou to write Rapsodie nègre, a vocal piece that he dedicated to Erik Satie and which was premiered in Paris on 11 December 1917. Poulenc wrote of this first performance: ‘At the last minute the singer threw in the towel, saying it was too stupid and that he didn’t want to be taken for a fool. Quite unexpectedly, masked by a big music stand, I had to sing that interlude myself. Since I was already in uniform, you can imagine the unusual effect produced by a soldier bawling out songs in pseudo-Malagasy.’ (Poulenc, Francis; Stéphane Audel (ed); James Harding (trans.), My Friends and Myself. London : Dennis Dobson, 1978, p. 41).