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Assollant, Alfred

Entry updated 24 February 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(1827-1886) French author whose strong republican views affected his career, sometimes damagingly, and which permeate his work as a whole, giving a mildly transgressive tone to the two tales so far translated into English. Histoire fantastique du célébre Pierrot (1860; trans A G Munro as The Fantastic History of the Celebrated Pierrot 1875) [for subtitles see Checklist below] is a spoofish Tall Tale recounting the triumphant Fantastic Voyage of its eponymous hero, who is far more a Giant-killing Jack than anything resembling the traditional Commedia dell'Arte Pierrot [for Giants, Jack, Commedia dell'Arte and Tall Tale, plus Books and Land of Fable below, see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. Assisted by his fairy godmother, Pierrot conquers China and other lands, then retires to his garden. Though clearly far from sf, the gleefully Weapon-heavy narrative makes a clear contribution to nineteenth-century Fantastika.

Assollant's latent affinity with more argued texts is clearer in the case of Les Aventures (merveilleuses mais authentiques) du capitaine Corcoran (1867; trans Sam Miller as The Marvellous (But Authentic) Adventures of Captain Corcoran 2016), whose invincible protagonist – a Superhero avant la lettre who boasts superhuman strength, a grasp of all languages, and the ability to control his tame Bengal tiger through commands that seem almost telepathic – travels to India in 1857 in search of a sacred Book, disrupting en passant, as much as possible, the attempts of the British, which were successful in the real world, to colonize the vastly complex subcontinent (see Imperialism). [JC]

Alfred Assollant

born Aubusson, Creuse, France: 20 March 1827

died Paris: 3 March 1886

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