Saturday, March 19, 2011

"Alfred Jarry" by Jill Fell

Alfred Jarry and his beloved bicycle




Ubu Roi program
Alfred Jarry

The Reaktion Books "Critical Lives" series is an excellent introduction to the avant-garde 19th and 20th Century.  One of the latest ones, Jill Fell's "Alfred Jarry," is a very important and equally enjoyable bio on this great French writer/playwright.
The inventor of "the play/puppet play Ubu Roi" and "pataphisics" the study and school of nonsense.  Also a man who is fond of guns and racing bicycles.  In fact that was his one mode of traveling around France.   He was the heart of the fin de siécle, yet he died a very early death due to excess drinking.
Reading this 200 page bio makes me want to go back into the world of Jarry, who was one of the fathers of DADA and Surrealism.  For sure a major influence on Boris Vian - and actually, Jarry was very much of a boho 1960's European figure.  I can imagine him being involved with the Living Theater.  But alas 60 years too early!   Its a shame that he didn't live to see what he brought to the world
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