For Les Épaves (1866) by French poet Charles Baudelaire, Belgian artist Félicien Rops was commissioned to design a frontispiece based on the Adam and Eve with the Tree of Knowledge as Death woodcut by Jost Amman as found  in Eustache-Hyacinthe Langlois‘s “danses des morts” essay, where it is erroneously attributed to Hans Sebald Beham.
“Les poisson d’avril” by Grandville from Another World
- Kindred spirits
- Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin on Grandville
To my surprise, Baudelaire doesn’t care for Grandville nor his work, literally saying “there are superficial people who find Grandville entertaining; as for me, he scares me.” (translation mine, see Baudelaire on Grandville).
The philosopher Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) saw in Grandville’s drawings, especially in Another World, a glorification of commodity fetishism: “The enthronement of the commodity … is the secret theme of Grandville’s art” and “if the commodity has become a fetish, Grandville is its sorcerer-priest.” (translation mine)
- English translations
There is no public domain translation of the work of Grandville. There is Stanley Appelbaum’s Bizarreries & fantasies of Grandville: 266 illustrations from Un autre monde and Les animaux (Dover Publications, 1974, 1987).
- Commodity fetishism?
Commodity fetishism was of great interest to me in the early 2000s, when I discovered the work of Walter Benjamin. I’m happy to have found a drawing that is proof of Grandville’s status as “sorcerer-priest of commodity fetishism.” The plate is called “Les poisson d’avril” (lit: The April Fishes, but actually French for ‘April Fools’ Day’)  in the chapter UN VOYAGE D’AVRIL and depicts fish fishing for humans in an enchanted wood. On their hooks are the commodity fetishes such as “diamants, … croix d’honneur, épaulettes, bourses d’or.” (“diamonds … a cross of honor, epaulettes and gold purses.”).
If you want to browse the on-line version with illustrations, here is the link.
Reading the opening pages, it dawned on me that Topor’s novel starts where Baudelaire’s “To Every Man His Chimera” (1869) left off, exactly one hundred years earlier.