Polichinelle (de Guignol)


56 pages

Polichinelle (de Guignol)

| 1906 (actually 1836) | Paris, France
Genre (as defined by the author)
Polichinelle, Scaramouche, L'Enfant, Le Docteur, Le Domestique italien, Le Vieil Aveugle, Le Commissaire, Le Gendarme, Le Bourreau, Le Diable, Turc, Hector, Madame Polichinelle, Charlotte
Number of acts

“Mr. Gustave Kahn discovered a full text which is faithful to the heroic farce one would recognize from the performances that took place on the Champs-Élysées," wrote the editors in the introduction to this small book published with Eugène Sansot publishing house.

Unfortunately, this is not true, as it was plagiarized. This text is in fact the same as the one published in 1836 by Olivier and Tanneguy de Penhoët (also known as Alfred Mainguet and Anatole Chabouillet), under the title Polichinelle, the latter being a verbatim translation of the very first edition of the English Punch and Judy, published by John Payne Collier between 1827 and 1828—The Tragical Comedy, or Comical Tragedy, of Punch and Judy. It is not, therefore, the Polichinelle played by the Champs-Élysées puppeteers in Paris, but rather of the Punch and Judy performed in London.

The term "Guignol" in the play’s title was a generic name for all types of glove-puppets in the 19th-century.

Plot summary

The protagonist gets rid of anyone bothering him

Punch gets his nose bitten by Toby, the dog. Its master, Scaramouche, accuses him of of having abused his dog, and they fight with sticks until his head splits from his body under Punch’s blows. In the following scene, Punch asks Judy for their infant in order to take care of him. However, irritated by his cries, he hits him against the frame of the puppet booth, and throws him in the middle of the audience. In the feud that follows, Punch hits Judy to death using a stick. He then has an affair with Pretty Polly. In the second act, Punch is thrown to the ground by his horse, Hector, and ends up beating to death the Doctor who came to help him. He makes a lot of noise, ringing a bell, and fights with the neighbour who came to ask him to stop. In the third act, Punch fights with a blind man. When policemen and Jack Ketch, a hangman, come to stop him, Punch hits them but is finally imprisoned. Punch must be hung, but he manages to have Jack Ketch hung instead. At the end, the Devil intervenes and fights with Punch, but Punch emerges triumphant.

Related works
The Tragical Comedy, or Comical Tragedy, of Punch and Judy, Giovanni Piccini, John Payne Collier1827
Composition date

First performance


Publications and translations


Polichinelle (de Guignol), précédé d'une étude de Gustave Kahn. Paris: E. Sansot, 1906.