Bayamus & Cardinal Pölätüo: Two novels
by Stefan Themerson
Introduction by Keith Waldrop
256 pages, paperback
This is the first U.S. publication of two riotous novels by the Polish-born British writer Stefan Themerson (1910-1988), who with his wife Franciszka ran the Gaberbocchus Press in London. Gaberbocchus published both Kurt Schwitters and Bertrand Russell — and these extremes unite in Themerson’s highly individual brand of philosophical Dadaism. Bayamus recounts the adventures of a self-proclaimed mutant with three legs (one is attached to a roller skate) and his efforts to propogate a new species; it includes an instructive visit to the “Theatre of Semantic Poetry,” where old rhymes mutate into new truths. Cardinal Pölätüo is the biography of Apollinaire’s anonymous father, who turns out to be a ecclesiast with a murderous interest in poetry, a faith based on science, and a dreamlife so frankly obscene that only a dictionary of Freudian symbols can explain its innocence.
“Nearly as mad as the world.” — Bertrand Russell
“This writer is in the company of Carroll and Queneau, a master of controlled inconsequence, God’s spy with no one to give his reports to, a fine flea in the ear of the modern novel.” — Guardian
“Philosophy and death have rarely been so much fun.” — New York Times