Article Title

The Antichrist Ubu


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

And I will show wonders in the heaven above

and signs on the earth beneath,

blood, and fire and vapor of smoke;

the sun shall be turned into darkness

and the moon into blood,

before the day of the Lord comes,

the great and manifest day.

- Acts of the Apostles, 2.19-20

Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi has received considerable recognition and acclaim in recent years for its role as a parent play to twentieth- century avant-garde drama. Its appearance in Barbara Wright's translation, m George Wellwarth and Michael Benedikt's Modern French Drama, and in several more recent anthologies has augmented an interest created by Roger Shattuck's extraordinary portrait of Jarry in The Banquet Years and Martin Esslin's praise of the play as "a landmark and a forerunner." Coupled with the ongoing efforts of the Collège de 'Pataphysique, Jarry enthusiasts have become acquainted with the remarkable diversity of his work, which includes art criticism, mystical and occult writings, pornography, and science fiction as well as drama and poetry. The aim of this study is twofold and it is thus divided into two corresponding sections. The first contends with notions such as Michael Benedikt's that Ubu Roi was a maverick work with no consistent development behind it. It explores the play within the context of Jarry's earlier epic drama Caesar Antichrist1 and presents a wealth of formerly unexposed material which can contribute enormously to our understanding of Ubu Roi and of the author's intentions in writing it. The second part deals with the obvious gulf between the intentions of the Ubu drama within the context of Caesar Antichrist and the reality of the separated Ubu Roi. In understanding that gulf, one becomes aware of the fact that Jarry had a clear vision of an abstract theatre and that he consciously worked to implement that vision in his dramaturgy.

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