cover image Turn-Of-The-Century Cabaret

Turn-Of-The-Century Cabaret

Harold B. Segel, Howard Segel. Columbia University Press, $85 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-231-05128-6

The first French cabaret, the Chat Noir (Black Cat), opened in Paris in 1881 as an informal group of poets, painters, musicians and theater people. It published its own magazine and showcased singer Aristide Bruant, who immortalized common folk and petty criminals. The cabaret craze soon swept Europe. At the Stray Dog cafe in St. Petersburg, Mayakovsky, Blok and Akhmatova gathered. Barcelona's cabarets, where Picasso exhibited his art, were the vortex of a Catalonian cultural renaissance. Numbing social conservatism was the target of satirical one-acters performed in the clubs of Berlin, Munich and Cracow. In Zurich, Cabaret Voltaire gave birth to the Dada movement in 1916-17. This riveting, richly detailed chronicle by a Columbia professor shows that the cabaret was a breeding ground of modernism, a crucible in which ""high'' and ``low'' art forms were fused. An invaluable study of a neglected phenomenon. (October 15)