Short Stories from Geneva


Rodolphe Töpffer (1799−1846) gained world renown for his stories that for the first time mixed written narration with illustrations, earning him the unofficial title of  “father of the comic strip” with his books Voyages du docteur Festus (Doctor Festus's travels), Histoire de M. Cryptogame (Mr. Cryptogame's story), and Les Amours de M. Vieux-Bois (The story of Mr. Wooden Head). Töpffer also was famous for his Voyages en zigzag (Zigzag travels) and Nouveaux voyages en zigzag (New zigzag travels), accounts of his walking trips in Switzerland. The rest of his body of work, including the book presented here, Nouvelles Genevoises (Short stories from Geneva), is less well known. Originally an artist whose vocation was somewhat derailed by an eye disease, Töpffer applied his interest in the visual arts to his writing by depicting the sumptuous landscapes that were familiar to him, especially the Alps. His love for the mountains, his tendency to daydream, his taste for colors, and his unparalleled eloquence are all present in his short stories, which were collected for the first time by the publisher Charpentier in 1841. The great German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe praised Töpffer’s work, while the noted French literary critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804−69) observed about him: “I love simple truth, rustic and natural grace, good humor and teasing with no irony. Usually [in his work], you will find a ridiculous tourist, an awkward Englishman, an audacious Frenchman, a charming young lady.…” This 1845 edition of Nouvelles Genevoises is illustrated with drawings by Töpffer and etchings by Best, Leloir, Hotelin, and Regnier.

Last updated: January 8, 2018