Fart Happens: A Selected Review of the Literature of Farting
Although Le Petomane (translated as either "fart mania" or "farting man") is mentioned in virtually every book about farting, this is the only book totally devoted to his life and work. Joseph Pujol was Le Petomane, the toast of Paris and the Moulin Rouge for many years around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.
His act consisted of creative farting. He could imitate music, animals, human voices, and inanimate objects. He could make a fart sound like the ripping of cloth. He would insert a tube into his anus and use the other end to smoke a cigarette. He could blow a candle out with his butt from a distance of a yard or more. The one thing he didn't do, apparently, is light his farts. Because Le Petomane could inhale (if that's the right word) through his derrière, it had neither the stink nor the flammability of your typical fart.
The book suffers as literature on a number of counts, but I would not say that the subject is one of them. I found it fascinating, and I now have a copy in my personal library. The version I own is a translation of the original French, and the language has an awkward and pedestrian tone. Even in the French, I think it is probably not great literature, since the text is largely quotations from other sources, such as newspaper reports, medical journals, and a memoir of one of Pujol's children. The book includes several photographs of Pujol, but they lack credits, so it is not known where they were taken from, or who has the originals. So, it's not a great book, but it's a one-of-a-kind tacky treasure just the same.
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