Lustucru: From Severed Heads to Ready-Made Meals
June 15, 2019 1:44 PM   Subscribe

"This almanac of 1659, now lost, featured the first appearance of a character named Lustucru, a blacksmith turned brain surgeon or 'operateur cephalique' ... In today’s terms, he went viral."
posted by todd (8 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Now I’m curious how Lustucru went from “let’s lobotomize all women” in 1659 to being the mascot of a peasant revolt in 1662. By 1680 Lustucru is still thought of as an enemy to women specifically (that’s the date of one of the pictures where the women gang up on him) so it’s not as if his image has been stripped of the misogynistic overtones.

This and the detail about the Langey affair...yowza (more information here (NSFWish image).
posted by sallybrown at 2:24 PM on June 15


I was familiar with the Kurt Weill song, "Le Grand Lustucru," but the title character comes off as a more generic, child-stealing bogeyman. The history of the name is fascinating!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:48 PM on June 15


Now I’m curious how Lustucru went from “let’s lobotomize all women” in 1659 to being the mascot of a peasant revolt in 1662.
Not really a mascot: the nickname was given after the revolt was crushed. A writer circa 1740 thought that the name (that he writes L'eusse-tu-cru) alluded to the "unbelievable" nature of the revolt. Historian Pierre Héliot, in 1935, thought that it was used by opponents to the revolt to emphazise its "vulgar", peasant roots.

Wilson notes the link between the Précieuses and the Lustucru fad, but one of the papers cited, Violent Women and Violence against Women by Joan DeJean (2003), gives a little more context, and describes the popularity in France in the first half of the 17th century of both legendary and real-life "strong women", from the man-beheading Judith to Alberte-Barbe d'Ernécourt, and mentions several noblewomen (note the not-totally-allegorical military gear) who played a political and occasionally soldiery part in the Fronde insurrection.
posted by elgilito at 4:33 PM on June 15 [7 favorites]


I've heard of the Lustucru name as the "child-stealing bogeyman" that The Underpants Monster mentions, with a mention in (I think) Marina Warner's book The Beast and the Blonde as a bogeyman who threatens to eat naughty children, so the brain surgery aspect is new to me. The only other time I've seen the name is as a brand name for pasta, which is a little odd, given the cannibal connection.
posted by Fuchsoid at 6:46 PM on June 15


I can't decide if his name makes a better moniker for a dark ambient artist or rapper.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 7:50 PM on June 15


In 2000 years the boyfriend in the "boyfriend looking back" meme will be a bearded grandpa selling rice.


Metafilter: terrifying women who privilege the life of the mind, thereby making life for all ‘unhappy and prudish'
posted by bleep at 8:24 PM on June 15 [3 favorites]


So, Lustucru was essentially Pépé Le Grenouille?
posted by acb at 4:10 AM on June 16 [2 favorites]


The only other time I've seen the name is as a brand name for pasta, which is a little odd, given the cannibal connection.
Lustucru is an inherently funny word in French. There's the internal assonance of the vowel u, and there's the origin of the word itself, a phonetic spelling of a rare conjugation form (eusses-tu-cru, interrogative conditional perfect of croire). So it's not surprising to see the word showing up in unrelated contexts, and that the sadistic cat-killer of the Mère Michel song (1700-1800) was recycled as a pasta mascot (1911) after the pasta makers heard painter Jean-Louis Forain drunkenly singing the song at a banquet (a typical 1900-era marketing decision). French nursery rhymes are full of violence, torture, animal abuse and sex anyway.
posted by elgilito at 5:53 AM on June 16 [5 favorites]


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