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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Zutistes or The Circle of Poets Zutiques was an informal group of French poets, painters and musicians who met at the Hôtel des Étrangers, at the corner of rue Racine and rue de l'École-de -Medicine, in Paris from September to October 1871.



The Zutistes were a fringe spin-off from a splinter group of Parnassians, known as the "Nasty Fellows" or "Villains Bonshommes", who formed a Parisian dining club at the close of the 1860s. Without having a formal manifesto, and taking their name from the French exclamation of baffled exasperation, Zut, this informal gathering of artists known as the Zutistes gathered around the figure of the pianist Ernest Cabaner, who worked as a bartender/piano player at the hotel. Anarchic in spirit, they looked back regretfully to the atmosphere of the recently overthrown Paris Commune.

A significant figure in the circle was Charles Cros, while other members were later better known, like Verlaine and Rimbaud.

The most significant trace of the movement came with the re-discovery in the Thirties of the Zutique Album, with some 101 literary entries accompanied by (sometimes pornographic) drawings.

The Album

Shot through with black humour, and riddled with parody and pastiche of contemporary styles and attitudes, the album is the best guide to the Circle's membership of some fourteen names.

A central target of the Album's mockery was the recently successful Parnassian Francois Coppee, while other more established figures like José-Maria de Heredia and Leconte de Lisle were also in the line of fire.

This album is in the form of an in-quarto Italian, black hardback cover, about thirty sheets handwritten, the other pages remained blank.


Nostalgia for the circle persisted among its members long after its break-up, perhaps as early as the winter of 1871–1872: thus for example the young Zutiste Raoul Ponchon was one of only seven recipients of Rimbaud's A Season in Hell; Charles Cros in 1883 used "zutique" to name a new poetry circle; while (perhaps coincidentally) as late as in 1897 the claim would be made that "man is by nature essentially 'zutique'".

See also

French text

Le Cercle des poètes Zutiques (ou Zutistes) était un groupe de poètes qui se réunissait à L'Hôtel des Étrangers, boulevard Saint-Michel à Paris à la fin de l'année 1871. Sans programme ni manifeste, le groupe comptait parmi ses membres des noms aussi illustres que Charles Cros, Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, André Gill, Ernest Cabaner ou Léon Valade.

Des réunions du groupe, on a conservé un Album Zutique, dans lequel les zutistes caricaturaient férocement les poètes parnassiens (avec une attention toute particulière accordée à François Coppée, tête de Turc du groupe) par des poèmes parodiques et des dessins.

La durée de vie du cercle est courte puisque ses membres entreprirent de le saborder au plus tard au début de l'année 1872, par crainte de contrôles fiscaux notamment. Après avoir transmis l'Album au groupe des "Vivants" (Germain Nouveau, Jean Richepin, Raoul Ponchon et Paul Bourget - auxquels il faut ajouter le nom de Bouchor, mais ce dernier ne signe aucun poème de l'Album) en 1872, Charles Cros, nostalgique, réutilisera l'appellation zutique à l'occasion de la création d'un nouveau cercle, en 1883.


Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Zutiste" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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