“De Casseres” vs. “DeCasseres” and a review…

Untitled-1At the outset, I thank everyone who takes time to write a considered review of any of our books on amazon or any other service, even if critical (Otherwise wonderful reviews can get so stilted by the strangest things. The very first line of the review below a) criticizes my “spelling” of DeCasseres name and b) misspells my name.

I take it the reviewer believes there should be a space between the “de” and “casseres”. It doesn’t take much when collecting to see the problem, and early on I decided to use the form “DeCasseres”, rather than “De Casseres”, in all my own work. Most of the books he seemed to have had the closest editorial control over generally has the form “DeCasseres”, and most examples of his signature in my collection connect the two with a line, though I have an example where it isn’t.

So, both forms have been used in print and in his own signature. I chose what I thought was “right”.

The cover of the original edition of “Anathema” shows a space in his signature in silver foil stamping, but his actual signature inside the book (nos. 42, 488, and 761 – yes, I have three copies) all show the connected “DeCasseres”. Moreso, the title page and every mention of his name is set “DeCasseres”. The biography of Spinoza owned by DeC shows a space in the signature on the flyleaf, but The DeCasseres Books has no space on the covers in the typesetting. On the spine of “Forty Immortals” it’s “De Casseres”, on the spine of  “The Muse of Lies” it’s “DeCasseres”. Etc. etc. etc.

After this initial odd stumble, it’s a wonderful review. And I thank the author of it, regardless of the contention at the outset, or the typo of my own name.

My utmost praise to Underworld Amusements for this superb edition of a forgotten great’s works
By ncosmann on September 22, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

The apparently idiosyncratic and (I hope) unintentional spelling of the author’s name aside, Underworld Amusements and Kevin J. Slaughter should be commended for the work they’ve put into collecting together what I’ve found from this collection of poetry to be a criminally-neglected American author – although his anarchic, Dionysian pessimist, Nietzschean messages and his wonderfully ornate style seem to me somewhat of an outlier from many American poets and authors (of his time especially) and perhaps a bit niche. I have a feeling Mr. De Casseres would have preferred it like that anyhow.

The influence of Nietzsche and his style has a well-earned but often tiresome legacy; everyone seems to love Nietzsche, but out of all the writers I know of who were strongly influenced by his work, there are two who I think took up his ideas most explicitly with true skill. One of these is Mr. De Casseres, whose sheer wit and exquisite genius could not help but win me over; his knowledge of often obscure vocabulary, mythology, and history are put to good use in his work, which just oozes opulence and grandeur. His other work that has also been published by Underworld Amusements – Anathema! Litanies of Negation – exemplifies his style best in my opinion with its increasingly hyperbolic, soaring feats of Dionysian splendor and arrogance. In my humble opinion, it is among the finest representations of the timeless human spirit – in that instance, its unmatched arrogance, which De Casseres and Nietzsche both knew to be far from a bad thing.

As far as Imp goes: De Casseres’ style is still here, albeit oftentimes more narrowed. If Anathema! is a fable of mankind’s arrogance, Imp is the collected moments of an individual’s repeated attempts at ascension to godhood. Here we see more of the poet rather than his philosophy, with none of his grand style removed. Of course, being the very ruminative writer he is, Imp certainly is not without its share of contemplative and more general pieces (the Minutes collection in particular is an excellent example of melding the universal scope of philosophy with the highly concrete and ephemeral scope of poetry – an ancient art that De Casseres does all too well).

Some may dismiss De Casseres for being too Nietzschean, even unoriginally so, and in a sense I can see that criticism; as I’ve said, the tendency to imitate Nietzsche and the spirit of his philosophy is something far too many people do and that most do poorly. I consider De Casseres to be an example of Nietzsche’s philosophy instantiated in a man who lives by his ideas – him along with E.M. Cioran, the other author who I think takes a lot out of Nietzsche while still providing his own unique, lived interpretation of him. Some may also dismiss De Casseres for his preoccupation with unnecessarily fancy diction and syntax; to that, I say that if you don’t like a writer who can dish out classical-styled poetry with the level of skill that De Casseres does while still doing something unique with it rather than simply writing generic nostalgia poetry, you simply don’t like poetry.

On the author’s merits alone, I could give this edition of his works the highest praise simply for being released when De Casseres is relatively unknown; however, the edition itself is also an extremely high quality paperback. The material used for the pages and the cover all feel great and fittingly luxurious for the work contained, and the original cover art is just awesome. Really, Underworld Amusements went out of their way with this.

Since I’ve already probably gushed enough about De Casseres’ work, the final word I’ll give on it is to definitely check it out if you happen to enjoy philosophy in the vein of Nietzsche, if you are an anarchist who enjoys work by anarchists, or if you are a fan of classically-styled poetry. If you are into philosophy or poetry, in fact, I think it is reasonable to bet that you’ll enjoy reading this obscure author; if you are into philosophy and poetry, you may just find a new favorite.

Art in America, July-August 1973


The July-August issue of Art in America contains the article “The Critics: Hartmann, Huneker, De Casseres” by Peter Plagens. I’ve transcribed the third section on DeCasseres, skipping the introduction and sections on the first two critics/artists.


Benjamin de Casseres comprised at once the best and worst of the three: the least substance (you get the feeling what he liked best about art was his own talking about it), and the best style. Two quotes give some idea of how sharp, overly cute, almost Timestyle, he was:

Turgenief’s characters are gripped in a vise. They go through life like somnambulists. Bazaroff is an arsenal of tendencies. Liza is a medieval nun that by some curious freak has been revamped for 19th century consumption.
The Comic View is exhilarating. It mounts the barricades of limitation with a hop, skip, and jump. It knows the value of all things. Science? Mere mumblings in a vacuum. Life? A parenthetical affirmative between two negatives. Honor? A bauble for babes. Love? Vascular excitation. Morality? A clever device of grafter princeps—the State. Tra-la! Hoop-la! Hold up your paper hoops, Master of Ceremonies, and see Merry Andrew dive through them and slit them into tissue shards.

De Casseres was, by his own admission a born writer, an anti-Semitic Jew and a direct descendant of Spinoza. He saw the artist as a transcendentally asocial (“only in a flurry of excess does one catch glimpses of immortal truth”), irrational (“creators should spurn reason as an eagle would a ladder”) individual. De Casseres’s most unsavory characteristic was his Nietzsche-derived social philosophy—the worst kind of might-makes-right social ethic. War, in his view, is inevitable and even honorable, since it sharpens the instincts for praying and conquest; a viable social system is only a mechanism which “pits one vice against another.” De Casseres also fabricated wrestling matches from criticism, e.g. Arthur Symonds vs. Kipling, or H. L. Mencken vs. Shaw. The latter (Mencken & Shaw, 1930) displays De Casseres at the height of his vindictive powers, going after G.B.S. with the most scurri­lous argumentum ad hominem because Shaw advocated Socialism (which terrified De Casseres, especially after the Russian Revolu­tion) while simultaneously amassing a personal fortune (driving De Casseres up his underpaid walls in envy), and, sub rosa, because Shaw was a near celibate.

The plutocratic fear of the Reds, which Mencken so finely but uncon­vincingly satirizes, is well founded. There is nothing more important than money—property—in the world. Every Red knows that; all Russians know that. In order to lick the world all Russia needs is money.
The plutocrats are all thieves; the Reds potentially or actually all thieves. There is no principle involved. To hell with ideals! I’m for protecting my bank account by upholding the Reigning Dynasty of Forty Thieves so long as they protect me.
. . . No strong man, no real man, no man with guts and brains wants to be equalized in his income with anyone else. All men are born unequal, and the battle will be always to the strongest and the race to the swiftest, no matter how sharp the giant gelding knife of Socialism becomes or how great the intermittent power of such group-predatory sentimentalists as George Bernard Shaw, superficially a dungaree Mephisto, but in his soul of souls a Cromwell and a social Borgia.

Shaw was a virgin until twenty-nine, and citing that fact is as close as De Casseres comes to allowing mitigating circumstances, for he believed, with Hunker, that rampant “individualism,” rampant “imperfection,” heroic excess and a sensual—read sex­ual—nature were the stuff of which artists are made . . . er, born. The arguments against De Casseres’s social esthetic now stand out embarrassingly. When he cites his “man” who disdains eco­nomic equality he means, whether he knows it or not, other privileged upper-middle-class whites like himself, with fancy edu­cations, who never struggled for anything more than the dinner check at Luchow’s. Even if “man” is predatory/competitive by nature, it doesn’t follow that a rational social system should encourage/reinforce it; rather, it ought to counterbalance it.
Shaw’s money does not taint his Socialism, only the reverse. Until the Revolution is won you’re going to have millionaires anyway, so it’s better they’re advocates-in-transit than robber barons. De Casseres, as a turn-of-the-century free-enterpriser, would certainly have Socialists be pauper saints and thus unheard voices. And De Casseres’s simplistic view of Socialism is of the undeserving mob trying to steal the fruits of society; he has no idea a la Marx or even a la Daniel Moynihan of the organism of society (i.e. you can’t let the workers starve without debilitating the whole thing). It’s the one question laissez faire advocates can never answer; what do we do with the losers? Camps? Mass graves? Slavery? Panhandling?

The ANTI-GOD – French with English (google) translation

From:  http://laporteouverte.me/2013/09/21/lanti-dieu/






Il arriva plusieurs fois, au cours des premiers siècles de ce christianisme qui avait soi-disant rénové le monde, que les pauvres peuples, épouvantés de la tournure que prenaient les choses de ce monde, se demandèrent très sérieusement si ce n’était pas le Diable qui le régissait ou du moins s’il n’en partageait pas l’empire avec Dieu lui-même. Alors, dans leur effroi et dans leur prudence, ils adorèrent les deux principes, celui du bien et celui du mal. Et, pour mieux s’assurer la protection du Mauvais, ils se mirent à pratiquer toutes ses œuvres avec un entrain diabolique, cependant qu’à d’autres instants ils égrenaient force chapelets au pied des autels. Il y avait un grand désarroi dans les consciences. On ne m’étonnerait pas beaucoup si on m’apprenait que le manichéisme a refleuri pendant les jours que nous traversons. Dieu règne-t-il toujours en maître ? N’a-t-il pas été obligé de céder une partie de son pouvoir ? Peut-être quelques-uns se posent-ils ces questions déjà blasphématoires (à qui la faute ?), en attendant que se pose la question suprême : Aurait-il été détrôné et n’avons-nous pas pour Dieu Satan lui-même ? et en attendant surtout que les consciences, complètement dévoûtées, y répondent par l’affirmative. Flaubert conte que sa mère, honnête et droite personne, ayant vu mourir tout d’un coup sa fille, innocente nouvelle mariée, cessa tout à tout de croire en Dieu. On dira que cette femme n’avait pas l’esprit théologique. Sans doute, mais pour beaucoup de gens l’idée de Dieu se confond avec l’idée même de la justice. Ayant conscience de ne pas avoir fait de mal au Tout-Puissant, ils se demandent pourquoi le Tout-Puissant et leTout-Juste les a brutalement frappés du poing. Qu’aurait dit la mère de Flaubert si elle avait vu les soldats prussiens entrer dans sa maison, dénuder et violer sa fille sous ses yeux, ensuite l’étriper, ensuite mettre le feu à la maison et fusiller tous les voisins, tirer sur elle-même ou la rouer de coups et la laisser pour morte ? Elle aurait ressenti obscurément les sentiments que vient d’exprimer un poète américain, Benjamin de Casseres, qui s’est fait le juge de Dieu et qui lui reproche violemment les crimes sur lesquels s’est achevée l’année ! Ce morceau est d’un si grand mouvement lyrique que j’ai voulu le traduire. Le voici. Il rappelle certaines invectives de Maldoror, mais l’auteur n’est pas un Maldoror ; il ne le connaît peut-être pas. C’est un poète :






Où es-tu, ô Dieu ? Viens et sois jugé, sois frappé, sois exécuté par moi. 

Où es-tu, ô Dieu ? Être subtil, être rusé, constructeur du Ciel et de l’Enfer, amant de l’Esprit et de la Matière, viens et sois jugé, sois frappé, sois exécuté par moi.

J’ai croisé à ta recherche jusqu’à cette heure à travers l’éternité. Viens et sois jugé, sois frappé, sois exécuté par moi.

Maintenant, en voilà assez, mangeur d’hommes, multiforme cannibale, molécule de l’assassinat, Thug dans la nuit.

N’y a-t-il pas assez de sang sur ton autel, n’y a-t-il pas assez de chair sur ta table, n’y a-t-il pas assez de puanteur sous tes narines ?

Maintenant il faut que cela finisse, poltron, fuyard, Borgia de l’Éternité, Iago de l’éther.

Anti-Dieu, je suis ; et je suis sur le toit de ton tabernacle mystique comme un voleur dans la nuit.

Anti-Dieu, je suis ; et je suis sur le seuil de ton secret comme une vengeresse Érynnie.

Anti-Dieu, je suis ; et je suis la langue des victimes de ta loi de Nécessité dont les gouttes de sang jonchèrent le monde pendant cette dernière année de ton règne.

Je te jette à la face les seins et les ovaires des femmes découpées par les mains de tes créatures.

Je te jette à la face une énorme poignée de testicules et de phallus arrachés par les mains de tes créatures.

Je te jette à la face les corps rôtis de petits enfants jetés au feu par les mains de tes créatures.


Auteur de la Vie et auteur de la Mort, écoute, oh ! écoute le tonnerre de ma haine !

Auteur de la Vie et Auteur de la Mort, écoute, oh ! écoute la prodigieuse malédiction que je prononce sur toutes tes œuvres.

Auteur de la Vie et Auteur de la Mort, écoute, oh ! écoute l’appel passionné de celui qui ne peut être trompé, qui ne peut être réduit au silence, qui ne peut être enchaîné par tes menaces.


Anathema maranatha sur ton éblouissant Cosmos, masque de ton perpétuel diabolisme ! Amen.

Anathema maranatha sur les jours de printemps et sur ceux de l’été, sur l’automne et sur les neiges de l’hiver, masques de ton perpétuel diabolisme ! Amen.

Anathema maranatha sur la race humaine, outil de ton perpétuel diabolisme ! Amen.


Maudite soit la Vie, cette stupide aventure !

Maudit soit le coït, ce stupide plaisir !

Maudite soit l’épée, cette stupide peine !


Tu as créé l’homme à ton image, et tu lui as donné un toit à porcs pour maison.

Tu as créé l’homme à ton image, et tu lui as donné la guerre pour apprentissage.

Tu as créé l’homme à ton image et tu lui as donné pour vin le sang de ses frères.


Apogée de notre amertume, apogée de notre martyre, l’égout et le vomissement des cycles de la vie te montent jusqu’aux fesses, Torquemada des cieux, perpétuel Néron de l’éternité.


Cependant les cœurs sensibles ont le droit de redire en minaudant :


Aux petits des oiseaux il donne la pâture

Et sa bonté s’étend sur toute la nature.



(Remy de Gourmont, in Mercure de France, 1er mai 1915)




It happened several times during the first centuries of Christianity that had supposedly renovated the world, poor people, terrified at the turn of the things of this world, seriously wondered if this was not the devil that governed or at least if it did not share the empire with God himself. So, in their terror and their prudence, they worshiped the two principles, that of good and evil. And to better ensure the protection of the Poor, they began to practice all his works with an evil spirit, however, that other times they ticked by strength rosaries at the altar. There was great confusion in people’s minds. It would not surprise me much if I was taught that Manichaeism has blossomed during the days we are experiencing. God reigns he still master? Has he not been forced to sell part of its power? Maybe some they arise these issues already blasphemous (whose fault?), Until the supreme question arises: Would it have been dethroned and did we not God Satan himself? and especially until the consciences completely dévoûtées, respond in the affirmative. Flaubert tale that his mother, honest and upright person, having seen die suddenly her daughter, innocent bride, stopped everything to believe in God. We say that this woman had no theological mind. No doubt, but for many people the idea of ​​God is identified with the very idea of ​​justice.Conscious of not doing harm to the Almighty, they wonder why the Almighty and Letout-Juste has brutally beaten his fist. What would Flaubert’s mother said if she had seen the Prussian soldiers into his house, stripped and raped his daughter before his eyes, then gut, then set fire to the house and shoot all the neighbors, pull it himself or pummel and leave for dead? She would have felt obscurely feelings just expressed an American poet, Benjamin Casseres, who became the judge of God and accuses him violently crimes that ended the year! This piece is a great lyrical movement that I wanted to translate it. Here it is.He recalls some invective Maldoror, but the author is not a Maldoror, it may not know it. He is a poet:





Where are you, God? Come and be judged, be struck, be executed by me. 

Where are you, God? Be subtle, be clever, manufacturer of Heaven and Hell, lover of Spirit and Matter, come and be judged, be struck, be executed by me.

I met your search until now through eternity. Come and be judged, be struck, be executed by me.

Now that’s enough, man-eating, cannibalistic multifaceted molecule of the murder Thug night.

Are there not enough blood on your altar, there is there is not enough meat on your table, there is there not enough stench in your nostrils?

Now there must be an end, coward fugitive Borgia Eternity, Iago ether.

Anti-God, I am, and I am on the roof of your mystic tabernacle as a thief in the night.

Anti-God, I am, and I am on the threshold of your secret as a vengeful Érynnie.

Anti-God, I am, and I am the language of the victims of thy law of Necessity, the drops of blood strewed the world during the last year of your reign.

I’ll throw you in the face breasts and ovaries of women cut by the hands of Thy creatures.

I’ll throw you in the face a huge handful of testicles and phallus torn by the hands of Thy creatures.

I’ll throw you in the face the body roasted small children thrown into the fire by the hands of Thy creatures.


Author of Life and author of Death, hear, oh! listening to the thunder of my hatred!

Author Author of Life and Death, hear, oh! listening prodigious curse I say on all thy works.

Author Author of Life and Death, hear, oh! listening to the passionate man who can not be deceived, that can not be silenced, that can not be chained by your threats call.


Anathema maranatha on your dazzling Cosmos mask your perpetual diabolism! Amen.

Anathema maranatha on spring days and those of the summer, the autumn and the winter snows, perpetual diabolism your masks! Amen.

Anathema maranatha human race, your perpetual tool diabolism! Amen.


Damn life, this stupid adventure!

Cursed be coitus, this stupid fun!

Cursed be the sword that stupid penalty!


You created man in your image, and you gave him a roof for pig house.

You created man in your image, and you gave him the war for learning.

You created man in your image and you gave him wine to the blood of his brothers.


Pinnacle of our bitterness pinnacle of our martyrdom, sewer and vomiting cycles of life will rise to the buttocks, Torquemada of heaven, perpetual Nero eternity.


However sensitive hearts have the right to complain smirk:


Small birds he gives food

And goodness extends over the entire nature.



(Remy de Gourmont in Mercure de France , May 1, 1915)

Letter to Zelda Fitzgerald by Benjamin De Casseres, Christmas 1931

On ebay, as of this posting, is a letter from Ben and Bio to Zelda Fitzgerald. I assume that something was sent with the letter, possibly a copy of Bio’s book “The Boy of Bethlehem”?


Description reads:

ALS. 1pg. 5” x 6”. Christmas 1931. New York City.  An autograph letter signed Bio De Casseres Benjamin De Casseres addressed to Zelda Fitzgerald: “Dear Zelda: Here’s the latest news about the Virgin Birth – Bio De Casseres Benjamin De Casseres Christmas, 1931 New York City”.  It is penned in green ink and has some light toning that affects nothing.  Letters to Zelda are scarce, and this was sent when she was first hospitalized.


The suicide of George Sterling….

In Fantasia Impromptu (an Underworld Amusements edition slated for release later this year), Benjamin makes the following note:

George Sterling.—George committed suicide at fifty-seven. The perfect age for poets to pass. He took a quick curtain instead of a slow one.
A charming man, a “regular” fellow, a bohemian of the old school. I received a letter two weeks before he died which was full of hopes and projects—one was an article on Bierce, another was his intention to visit New York. But the Imp of the Perverse suddenly reversed gear on him. He had not received his copy of “The Sublime Boy” up until two weeks before his death. But he had got it, unquestionably, before he committed suicide. A thought has come to me that the story of Walter’s death may have influenced him.

George Sterling (wikipedia link) reviewed Forty Immortals. That review can be found on the books page.

Sept. 26th, 1926 – Walter DeCasseres


Discover of Laundry Tickets Reveal Tragedy of Descendant of Spinoza


The recent discovery of a package of laundry bills, invoices and paper bags on which were scribbled a great number of poems, brings to light the life and death of the one of the last two descendants of Benedict de Spinoza, the great Dutch philosopher and descendant of Simon De Casseres of London, the famous wealthy merchant who was the close friend of Oliver Cromwell. The poet was Walter DeCasseres, born in Philadelphia in 1881, and who committed suicide by drowning in February 1900. His body was recovered by workmen at the foot of the Arch street wharf in Philadelphia five weeks afterward. He was identified by a library card found in his pocket. DeCasseres committed suicide for purely philosophical reasons. He has been called the “American Thomas Chatterton,” because like the English lad he committed suicide at an early age and also wrote great poetry. When the manuscripts were submitted to Professor Leonard Charles Van Hoppen, formerly Queen Wilhelmina professor of Dutch Literature at Columbia University he declared that the poems of DeCasseres are superior to any poems written by Poe, Keats, Shelley or Blake at that age. The rediscovered poems, which are published today by Seven Arts, under he title of “The Sublime Boy,” reveal similarities to the mournful mysticism of Edgar Allan Poe and the world weariness of the old testament poet who cried “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” Whereas Thomas Chatterron committed suicide for physical reasons–because he was starving–Walter DeCasseres was a spiritual suicide, who had a contempt for life and a horror of what se saw on this planet, although he was in perfect physical health, had a home, a loving family, and a good position in the proofroom of the Philadelphia Press, where he was a copyholder. DeCasseres’ poems were written between his sixteenth year and the time of his death at 18 years and nearly siz months. They were only recently found by his brother, Benjmin DeCasseeres. Many of them were only deciphered with the greatest trouble and after the lapse of considerable time. They were scribbled — sometimes in ink, sometimes in pencil–very carelessly on the first pieces of paper that come to hand–sugar bags, backs of bills and torn bits of white paper.

Two great Edgar Saltus books in one…

Edgar Saltus was a huge influence on Benjamin DeCasseres. You can read DeC’s biographical sketch of him on the Forty Immortals page.

This book expounds upon many of the intellectual roots of Benjamin DeCasseres’ writing, giving sketches of a number of thinkers DeC frequently mentions as well as some of the oriental and occidental foundations of his more pessimistic thought.



Two social column mentions connecting DeCasseres to booze, natch…

One of the natty drinks of the moment is a pink concoction, served in small tumblers and of a melon pink coloration with trimmings of sliced fruit. It is called a “Ward Eight” and is simply a whiskey sour–Ben deCasseres’ favorite tipple–with a pony of grenadine instead of the customary powdered sugar. It is said to have gotten its name from the point of origination–the 8th Ward in Boston, Mass.

-from “New York Day by Day” column, by O.O. McIntyre.
Published in The Poughkeepsie Star-Enterprise, Friday, Sept. 25, 1936

Another high-powered concoction was Joel’s Blue Moon cocktail, the ingredients of which no one seemed to know bu Joel and Ben DeCasseres, and they would never tell. when mixed it was a Prussian blue and had a velvety chestnut taste.

-from “New York Day by Day” column, by O.O. McIntyre.
Published in Daily Sentinel, Rome, NY, Wednesday Evening, April 14, 1937

“The Wizards” by DeC, from The Judge, 1917

from The Judge, October 27, 1917


ALL children are poets. Their minds are great wells of imaginative fancy. Their little heads are fairy caves. Their eyes are the windows of a palace of magic delights.

They do not see the external world as it is, but as they modify it. A house is not a house to them, but is the abode of a goblin or a fairy.

Strange beings dwell in everything. Everything has a soul, and you cannot make a child believe otherwise. Their imagination creates life where life is not; they infuse into each inanimate object the superabundance of their own minds.

They relate the most extravagant stories with an air of truth. It is their truth. To them their dreams and visions are the only real things in life. They have no use for a cheerless, stupid fact. Their minds carry a finer secret.

Yes, a secret! A great secret! A marvellous secret is theirs! They live in a Kingdom of Secrets which we older ones, world-weary and task-laden, can never enter.

They—the smiling children with the dreamy faces—have the key to the door of Truth. It is they who see behind the masks that things wear; it is their newer souls that see things truly.

The craving for tales of adventure, for romance, the thirst for fiction of all kinds are the attempts of the grown human being to force entrance once again into that Palace of Endless Delight—the mind of the child.

—Benjamin De Casseres.