This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores the practices that some artists, poets, and novelists of late nineteenth century in France adopted in the creation of a modern artistic form as suggested by acrobatic performance. It also explores how the problematic gender puts in question the fundamental organization of society. The book explores Jules Laforgue’s rich engagement with the aesthetics of pantomime and circus. His Pierrot is generally described as a sad clown mask behind which lies the poet’s ennui. His word play and penchant for mischievous citation are treated as figurative verbal acrobatics. The book looks at the work of Octave Mirbeau, who, unlike Laforgue, is not generally associated with either the acrobat or clown.