Jean-Gaspard Deburau! Jean-Louis Barrault! Le Théâtre des Funambules! Children of Paradise! The Boulevard du Crime! Cool stuff, but been there, done that in this previous post, so I won't repeat myself here except to say that Children of Paradise is a must-see movie, especially for readers of this blog.
But just in case there are some readers out there who might want to go deeper into this rich subject, here are five — count 'em, five — complete public domain books on the subject. Four out of five of these books are, however, in French. I've processed them all with OCR (optical character recognition) software to create searchable text, which is more than the Bibliothèque Nationale or Google do, but then again they don't have my infinite resources.
Pantomimes de Gaspard et Ch. Deburau (1889)If you ever wondered if the pantomime pieces performed by Jean-Louis Barrault in Children of Paradise were historically accurate, or if you wanted to learn about other pieces Deburau père and fils performed, this is the book for you.
Deburau: Histoire du Théâtre à Quatre Sous par Jules Janin (1833)
This two-volume biography of Jean-Gaspard Deburau came early in his career and is credited with transforming him into a Paris celebrity.
Souvenir des Funambules par Jules Champfleury (1859)
Reminiscences by the journalist, art critic, playwright, novelist, short story writer, and friend of Victor Hugo and Gustave Flaubert.
Le Théâtre des Funambules: Ses Mimes, Ses Acteurs et Ses Pantomimes Depuis Sa Fondation, Jusqu'à Sa Démolition par Louis Péricaud (1897)
A 508-page end-of-the-century retrospective of the Funambules, with thorough descriptions of the pantomimes. Péricaud was a true man of the theatre, a prolific actor, songwriter, playwright, director, and theater historian.
Deburau: A Comedy by Sacha Guitry (1918)
Sacha Guitry (1885–1957), was a successful and ridiculously prolific French actor, director, playwright, and filmmaker. He is credited with having written 124 plays, some in as little as three days. This is one of them, translated in 1921 by the influential British director and playwright Harley Granville-Barker. Guitry is also author of one of my favorite quotes: "Our wisdom comes from our experience, and our experience comes from our foolishness."
Endnote: Marc Cosdon, author of the definitive book on the Hanlon-Lees, writes me of "a nifty new book called Pantomimes fin de siecle (2008), edited by Gilles Bonnet, a compilation of French pantomime scripts."