Pub. price: $37.95
A Pataphysical Life
Publisher: Mit Pr Published: Sep 16 2011 Pages: 405 Weight: 2.64lbs. Height: 9.50" Width: 7.50" Depth: 1.50" Language: English
When Alfred Jarry died in 1907 at the age of thirty-four, he was a legendary figurein Paris--but this had more to do with his bohemian lifestyle and scandalous behavior than hisliterary achievements. A century later, Jarry is firmly established as one of the leading figures ofthe artistic avant-garde. Italo Calvino, Umberto Eco, Gilles Deleuze, Jean Baudrillard, Philip K.Dick, Paul McCartney, DJ Spooky, Peter Greenaway, and J. G. Ballard are among his many admirers. Acommunity of scholars and artists maintain a posthumous dialogue with Jarry's ideas through theCollège de 'Pataphysique in Paris (named after the "science of imaginary solutions" heconceived), while a steady stream of books on twentieth-century drama pay tribute to his absurd andgrotesque play, Ubu Roi. Even so, most people today tend to think of Jarry only as the author ofthat play, and of his life as a string of outlandish "ubuesque" anecdotes, often recountedwith wild inaccuracy. In this first full-length critical biography of Jarry in English, AlastairBrotchie reconstructs the life of a man intent on inventing (and destroying) himself, not to mentionhis world, and the "philosophy" that defined their relation. In short, Brotchie gives usthe narrative version of what Jarry himself produced--a pataphysical life. Drawing on a wealth ofnew material, Brotchie alternates chapters of biographical narrative with chapters that connectthemes, obsessions, and undercurrents that relate to the life. The anecdotes remain, and are evenaugmented: Jarry's assumption of the "ubuesque," his inversions of everyday behavior (suchas eating backwards, from cheese to soup), his exploits with gun and bicycle, and his herculeanfeats of drinking. But Brotchie distinguishes between Jarry's purposely playing the fool and deepernonconformities that appear essential to his writing and his thought, both of which remain a vitalsubterranean influence to this day.