Jarry’s first publication, Les minutes de sable mémorial, was a collection of poetry, prose, and plays (some were written for puppets). Many pieces by the twenty-one-year-old had appeared previously in avant-garde magazines. His creative approach to the interplay of text and image was unprecedented, however. The Symbolist writer and critic Remy de Gourmont mentored Jarry in the art of the book. As the unofficial artistic director of the magazine Mercure de France and its imprint, Gourmont had established a house style that was both modern and medieval, informed by advertising and the aesthetics of early printing. Jarry absorbed his mentor’s taste and used it as a point of departure for his experimental designs, going so far on two occasions as to produce a book on three different-colored papers.
Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), Les minutes de sable mémorial (Paris: Mercure de France, 1894). Collection of Christophe Champion, Librairie Faustroll.