Antonin Artaud 1896-1948
(Full name Antoine-Marie-Joseph Artaud; also wrote under the pseudonym Le Révélé) French essayist, dramatist, poet, novelist, screenwriter, and actor.
Poet and theorist of revolutionary theater, avant-garde novelist and surrealist screenwriter, actor, drug addict, and madman, Antonin Artaud is famous for the influence he exerted through his writings and performances—especially after death—on the way writers, directors, actors, and communal theater companies conceive of theater, its production, and its function. Progenitor of a form of theater whose aim is to unsettle and radically transform its audience and its culture, such as happenings, theater of the absurd, or experimental theater, Artaud called for an end to a drama of rationality, masterpieces, and psychological exploration. Artaud advocated a “theatre of cruelty”—a probing, goading, and provocative theater drawing on Symbolist sensory derangement, psychoanalytic theory, and the Balinese theater. Such a theater, according to Artaud, should employ expressive breathing, animal sounds, uninhibited gestures, huge masks, puppets, and an architecture that destroys the barrier between actors and audience in order to turn spectators into participants, and bring them to a level of visceral experience Artaud deemed more profound than any experience accessible through passive understanding or absorption of language, plot, or coherently structured action. Artaud's aim was to unblock repression and to purge violence, hypocrisy, and the malaise he saw as endemic to society.
Born in Marseilles—his father a wealthy shipbuilder, his mother of Greek heritage—Artaud suffered a lifetime of ill-health, physically and mentally debilitated by a severe case of meningitis contracted when he was five. During his early teen years, while a student at a Marist Catholic school, he started a literary magazine in which he published his own poetry. Suffering from depression and sharp head pains, at the age of nineteen Artaud sought treatment at a local sanatorium. Drafted into the army the following year, he was given a medical discharge after only a few months. Artaud then spent two years in a Swiss hospital, where his literary inclinations were encouraged as part of his therapy. At twenty-two, upon release from a clinic in Switzerland, Artaud went to Paris where he remained under the care of Dr. Edouard Toulouse who was both editor of the literary magazine Demain and a psychiatrist. Toulouse published Artaud's poetry and employed him as an editorial assistant. In 1923, Jacques Riviére, editor of the Nouvelle revue française rejected several poems Artaud submitted to the magazine as incomprehensible, but published a series of letters by Artaud defending his work, advancing his theories about poetry, and discussing his mental distress. Around this time Artaud began taking laudanum—a solution of opium in alcohol—for his pains, and continued to use opium, heroin, and other drugs until his death. It was also at this time that Artaud allied himself with the surrealists, and began working in the theater and the cinema. He was featured in Carl Dreyer's Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) as Jean Massieu with Maria Falconetti, and wrote the screenplay for the surrealist film, La Coquille et le Clergyman (1927). Artaud broke with the surrealists when Andre Breton, the leader of the movement, joined the communist party. Communism seemed to Artaud to be more of the same debilitating European rationality he wanted to destroy. In 1926, Artaud formed the Theâtre Alfred Jarry with Roger Vitrac and Robert Aron. Soon after the failure of his adaptation of Les Cenci (1935), Artaud traveled to live with the Tarahumaras in Mexico, where he took peyote and studied their ceremonies. He then traveled to Ireland, where he suffered a mental collapse, and returned to France in a straight jacket to be hospitalized and subjected against his will to several rounds of electroshock treatments for the next nine years. Nevertheless, Artaud continued to write. Upon his release, he made a triumphant return to Paris and the limelight, receiving the Prix Sainte-Beuve for Van Gogh, le suicide de la societe (1947), lecturing to audiences that included Andre Gide, Albert Camus and Andre Breton, and writing a play for radio commissioned by the French government radio station. This work was recorded but never broadcast because of obscenity and anti-Americanism. In 1948, Artaud died of sphincteral cancer.
Les Cenci, Artaud's play about a man who rapes his own daughter and is then murdered by men the girl hires to eliminate him, typifies Artaud's theater of cruelty. Les Cenci was produced in Paris in 1935 but was closed after seventeen dismal performances. Another illustration of Artaud's work is Le jet de sang or The Fountain of Blood (1925), a farce about the creation of the world and its destruction by humans, especially women. Like many of Artaud's other plays, scenarios, and prose, Les Cenci and The Fountain of Blood were designed to challenge conventional, civilized values and bring out the natural, barbaric instincts Artaud felt lurked beneath the refined, human facade. Of The Fountain of Blood, Albert Bermel wrote in Artaud's Theater of Cruelty: “All in all, The Fountain of Blood is a tragic, repulsive, impassioned farce, a marvelous wellspring for speculation, and a unique contribution to the history of the drama.” More than for any particular work, Artaud is remembered more for his tormented life, for having turned himself inside out in the attempt to discover a way to transform theater and society, and for the concepts he developed for effectuating transformation. Le Théâtre de la cruauté (1933) and Le Théâtre et son double (1938; The Theater and Its Double)—Artaud's most famous works—along with the novel Héliogabale (1934; Heliogabalus) and his blasphemous play Le jet de sang, rather than having an independent artistic existence, stand as manifestos and vehicles for approaching, if not achieving, the transformations Artaud proclaimed. According to author Susan Sontag: “Not until the great outburst of writing in the period between 1945 and 1948 … did Artaud, by then indifferent to the idea of poetry as a closed lyric statement, find a long-breathed voice that was adequate to the range of his imaginative needs—a voice that was free of established forms and open-ended, like the poetry of [Ezra] Pound.”
In Antonin Artaud: Man of Vision, Bettina Knapp offered an explanation of Artaud's popularity long after his death: “In his time, he was a man alienated from his society, divided within himself, a victim of inner and outer forces beyond his control. … The tidal force of his imagination and the urgency of his therapeutic quest were disregarded and cast aside as the ravings of a madman. … Modern man can respond to Artaud now because they share so many psychological similarities and affinities.” Artaud's individual works, throughout his lifetime, were often received badly. However, the body of his work—seen as a call for the creation of a new theater—and his life—seen as the forge upon which his theories were fashioned—gained in the latter part of the twentieth century a numinous force, and a celebrated following.
Le jet de sang [The Blood Jet, The Fountain of Blood, and The Spurt of Blood] 1925
L'Ombilic des limbes [The Umbilicus of Limbo] (poetry, essays, and dramatic dialogues) 1925
Les Cenci 1935
Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu (radio play) 1947
Tric-trac du ciek (poetry) 1923
Le Pese-nerfs [published with Fragments d'un journal d'enfer, 1927; translated as The Nerve Meter and Fragments of a Diary of Hell] (poetry) 1925
La Coquille et le Clergyman [The Seashell and the Clergyman] (screenplay) 1927
Correspondance avev Jacques Riviére [Artaud-Riviere Correspondence] (letters) 1927
L'Art et la mort [Art and Death] (essays) 1929
Le Theatre Alfred Jarry et l'hostilite du publique [with Roger Vitrac] (essays) 1930
Le Théâtre de la cruauté (manifesto) 1933
Héliogabale; ou, l'anarchiste couronné [Heliogabalus or The Anarchist Crowned] (novel) 1934
Les Nouvelles révélations de l'être [The New Revelations of Being] (essays) 1937
Le Théâtre et son double [The Theater and Its Double] (essays) 1938
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Criticism: Overviews And General Studies
“The New French Theatre: Artaud, Beckett, Genet, Ionesco,” in The Sewanee Review, Vol. LXVII, No. 4, October-December, 1959, pp. 643-57.
[In the following essay, Fowlie outlines Artaud's theory of theatrical ritual and dramatic cruelty, and analyzes his influence on Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and Eugene Ionesco.]
Jacques Copeau's Vieux Colombier was the most famous and most fecund of the little theatres of the 20th century. All subsequent little theatres have continued the example of Le Vieux Colombier in opposing what Copeau called the double pest of the theatre: industrialization and cabotinage. The meaning of the first word is obvious. But the second word, which is purely French, is more difficult to define. It has to do with the art of the actor which in its lowest manifestation can equal a degrading kind of parody. The cabotin is vulgar and vain; he can even be ferocious. The weariness of rehearsals and backstage intrigues, gossip and desultoriness are able to sterilize the energies and moral character of an actor. Le cabotinage is a sickness which infects a good deal of the theatre—and the world outside the theatre: it is, fundamentally, the sickness of insincerity and falseness. The person suffering from cabotinage ceases to be authentic as a human being. He never recognizes the malady in himself. In his training, an actor risks the complete mechanization of his...
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“Artaud: A New Type of Magic,” in Yale French Studies, No. 31, 1964, pp. 87-98.
[In the following essay, Knapp interprets several works of Artaud, arguing that they represent his medium for expressing and transforming the sick and sordid aspects of the human psyche.]
As actor, director, poet, scenario writer or art critic, in whatever field of endeavor Antonin Artaud1 chose to express himself, he sought to penetrate deep within man's unconscious into what became known as “the world of sur-reality.” He wanted to extract from it and materialize those painful and frightening thoughts and clusters of sensations which man wants to conceal from himself or hesitates to confront. Dreams, hallucinations, magic and alchemy were the instruments Artaud used to effect such revelation.
It was as a theoretician of the theatre that Artaud made his singular contribution, influencing a whole generation of writers. Artaud advocated a “theatre of cruelty,” where archetypes would war with each other on stage, where man would unmask himself and stand confronted with his naked ugliness. Artaud would utilize both abstract and plastic elements, that is, gesture and symbol, to give a broader base and a richer significance to the dialogue. In this way “another language” would be subsumed under the “spoken language” and would restore to it “its old magic, its essential spellbinding...
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“Antonin Artaud: The Prophet of the Avant-Garde Theater,” in The Theater of Protest and Paradox: Developments in the Avant-Garde Drama, New York University Press, 1964, pp. 14-27.
[In the following essay, Wellwarth compares Artaud's dramatic theories to the work of Alfred Jarry.]
[This essay appeared in a slightly different form in Drama Survey, Vol. 2, Winter, 1963, pp. 276–87.]
One of the more curious and paradoxical aspects of modern theatrical history is that trends in the drama have been started not by the playwrights but by the critics. The dramatist presents the thesis, but it is the critical commentator who presents the counterthesis that is necessary before the final synthesis of a new theatrical movement can be produced. The drama of the past (the ancient Greek plays, the Roman comedy, the medieval mysteries and moralities, the Elizabethan heroic play, the eighteenth century sentimental drama, the nineteenth century melodrama and well-made jigsaw puzzle play) was “written down” to its particular audience: it was designed to be immediately comprehensible to its spectators. If it was not, it suffered the relegation to the closet shelf. In modern times, however, the drama has become more intellectual and sophisticated; and although the goal still is, as it always has been, to communicate directly to the audience, it has become something mysterious and puzzling....
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“Antonin Artaud: Metaphysical Revolutionary,” in Yale French Studies, No. 39, 1967, pp. 188-97.
[In the following essay, Greene traces Artaud's concept of language, his distinction between political and cultural revolution, and the changes in his thought regarding whether body or spirit has primacy.]
Albert Camus has written that there are fundamentally two types of revolution: one—characterized as revolt—is metaphysical; the other, political. A metaphysical revolutionary rebels against the limitations placed upon him by the very nature of human existence, against the laws governing life and death. Unlike a political revolutionary, involved with the problems of society, he concerns himself with only the most universal and unchanging aspects of human life. His quest is absolute, for he demands not a new or better society, but a radical change in life itself—a transformation of the human condition. In this sense, Sade, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Blake, Rimbaud, and Lautréamont were all metaphysical, or spiritual, revolutionaries. The most desperate, and the most pathetic, metaphysical rebel of recent years was a poet named Antonin Artaud.
Artaud first found himself forced to define the nature of revolution in the 1920s. At that time a member of the Surrealist group, he was shocked when many of his fellow members welcomed Marxist doctrines. Although his own ideas concerning the...
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“Artaud's Myth of Motion,” in The French Review, Vol. 41, No. 4, February, 1968, pp. 532-38.
[In the following essay, Caws describes the illness which paralyzed Artaud's thought and movement in the context of his belief in a theater of myth created through the expressive language not of words but of mental and physical mnovement.]
J'estime avoir assez emmerdé les hommes par le comple-rendu de mon contingentement spirituel, de mon atroce disette psychique, et je pense qu'ils sont en droit d'attendre de moi autre chose que des cris d'impuissance et que le dénombrement de mes impossibilités, ou que je me taise. Mais le problème est justement que je vis.
Artaud, “Nouvelle Lettre sur moi-même”1
Antonin Artaud, like the surrealists Breton and Péret, was strongly attracted to Mexican folklore, in which they all saw a manifestation of the peculiarly unitary quality of the Mexican mind. The firm denial of any split between logic and irrationality, between reason and poetry, or between the objective and the subjective is natural to the Mexican people, according to Benjamin Péret in his Anthologie des mythes, légendes et contes populaires d'Amérique. He describes this attitude as being in open conflict with the practical necessities of modern life and with our ordinary vocabulary, and as an...
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“Artaud and the Participatory Drama of the Now Generation,” in Educational Theater Journal, Vol. 20, No. 29, December, 1968, pp. 485-91.
[In the following essay, Gattnig shows Artaud's influence on the de-emphasis of text and the convention of a passive audience in the theater of the late 1960s.]
Some recent visitors to New York's theatres have been surprised and shocked by the kind of involvement required of them in the productions they merely came to view. The audience (which seems to dress less and less formally) is bedazzled by electric equipment: amplifiers scream; strobe lights flash; technicolor slides are projected on the walls and on the audience. The actors perform the play by moving through, over, and around the spectators. There are frequent, and often successful, attempts made by the performers to communicate with the spectators in a personal and non-illusory manner. Language seems less important than visual action and non-linguistic sounds. The total effect seems to be designed to stir the audience to active participation. There seems to be little or no interest in telling a story. Instead, short but highly charged instants of intense energy are transmitted in every direction. Slowly, one becomes aware that what has happened is that the traditional barrier between the cast and the audience has been dropped. We are with the nobles once again, sitting on Garrick's stage and waiting to be...
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“Artaud's Use of Language, Sound, and Tone,” in Modern Drama, Vol. 15, No. 4, March, 1973, pp. 383-90.
[In the following essay, Labelle discusses Artaud's use of sound, tone, pitch, and volume in his attempt to undermine conventional language and traditional theater.]
“Oh, for a language to write drama in,” Eugene O'Neill wrote in 1929. “I'm so strait-jacketed by writing in terms of talk! But where to find that language?”1 His cry of frustration reiterated the feelings of one of his French contemporaries, Antonin Artaud (1896-1948). Although O'Neill failed to answer his question, Artaud, in his plays and poems, undertook a long series of experiments in language, sound, and tone in an attempt to develop new means of communication.
The Spurt of Blood (Le Jet de sang) (1925), a play which was the highpoint of his early period (1924-1931), demonstrates the subservient role Artaud assigned to language. The work is a montage of short, highly visual episodes. Briefly, the work opens with a love scene between a young couple, which is interrupted by a cosmic convulsion in which parts of human anatomy, temples, and insects fall from the sky. After the storm, the man and girl leave, and then a Knight and Nurse enter. Following their sexually suggestive actions and discussion, the Young Man returns. His conversation with a Priest is terminated when God reaches...
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“The Schizophrenic and Language: Surface and Depth in Lewis Carroll and Antonin Artaud,” in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism, edited by Josue V. Harari, Cornell University Press, 1979, pp. 277-95.
[In the following essay, Deleuze explores the differences between the languages constructed by Artaud, Lewis Carroll, and schizophrenics.]
The presence of esoteric words and portmanteau words has been pointed out in the rhyming chants of little girls, in poetry, and in the language of madness. Such an amalgamation is troubling, however. A great poet can write in a direct relation to the child that he was and the children that he loves; a madman can produce a great body of poetry in direct relation to the poet that he was and has not ceased to be. This in no way justifies the grotesque trinity of child, poet, and madman. We must be attentive to the displacements which reveal a profound difference beneath superficial resemblances. We must note the different functions and depths of non-sense and the heterogeneity of portmanteau words, which do not authorize grouping together those who invent them or even those who employ them. A little girl can sing “pimpanicaille” (in French, a mixture of “pimpant” + “nique” + “canaille”), a poet write “frumious” (furious + fuming) or “slithy” (lithe + slimy), and a schizophrenic say “perspendicacious”...
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“Artaud's Revision of Shelley's The Cenci: The Text and its Double,” in Comparative Drama, Vol. 21, No. 2, Summer, 1987, pp. 115-26.
[In the following essay, comparing Artaud's version of The Cenci to Shelley's, Goodall pays particular attention to showing how Artaud reframes a narrative dependent on language into a play of forces realized by the language of movement and gesture.]
The plague takes images that are dormant, a latent disorder, and suddenly extends them into the most extreme gestures; the theater also takes gestures and pushes them as far as they will go: like the plague it reforges the chain between what is and what is not, between the virtuality of the possible and what already exists in materialized nature.
(Antonin Artaud's The Theater and its Double, p. 27)
This image represents the theater as a bridge from the virtual to the actual, a convergence of physical and metaphysical operations. Artaud's metaphors betray an obsessional concern with this physical/metaphysical interface, a concern which drives him in quest of an “alchemical theater,” capable of resolving “every conflict produced by the antagonism of matter and mind.” His own endeavors to bring about such a resolution through practical work in the theater present a special problem where critical assessment is concerned. At one...
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“Artaud's Revolution: Nowhere to Turn,” in Romance Notes, Vol. 33, No. 2, Winter, 1992, pp. 109-17.
[In the following essay, Schehr argues that Artaud did not consider the transfer of social, economic, and political power from one class to another revolutionary if there was not also a continual subversion of the self, and of the language and grammar which enable its expression.]
We owe Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva debts of gratitude for having made Artaud the focus of contemporary literary inquiry. As early as 1967 in “La Parole soufflée,” Derrida reflects on a corpus that extends from Artaud's early work on the theater to the letters written at Rodez; of interest to him is the import of the pre-semiotic at work in Artaud's writing, a concept that informs his view of the theater. In 1972 at Cerisy, Philippe Sollers organized a session on Artaud in which both he and Julia Kristeva engaged the question of revolution in Artaud's writing. Despite subsequent differences between Tel Quel and deconstruction, the three writers agree in their assessment of the concept of revolution in Artaud's writing. For Derrida (283-84), the revolutionary affirmation relates to the depth of the unreadable in which the distinctions among the various organs of the theater, such as play, writer, and audience, would not be possible. What is not revolutionary is also clear. As Derrida notes (284n), Artaud, in...
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“Trading Art(s): Artaud, Spies, and Current Indonesian/American Artistic Exchange and Collaboration,” in Modern Drama, Vol. 35, No. 1, March, 1992, pp. 10-19.
[In the following excerpt, Foley analyzes the influence of Balanese theater on Artaud's ideas about the form, function, and possibilites of his own theater.]
In 1990-91 as part of the Festival of Indonesia, a government to government exchange of the arts, a wealth of Indonesian performance toured American cities. Over the same eighteen-month period there were an equivalent number of collaborative productions mounted by Indonesian directors, writers, choreographers, and U.S. groups (Keith Terry and I Wayan Dibia's Body Tjak in San Francisco and Arifin C. Noer's Ozone with students from the University of California at Santa Cruz), which followed the earlier collaboration between Putu Wijaya and Phillip Zarrilli in the mid-eighties. In some cases cultural roles were reversed, as at the San Francisco and Los Angeles museums where Larry Reed performed Balinese Wayang Parwa (shadow theatre) under the auspices of the Festival, while Indonesian artists were showing their avantgarde batik paintings in the foyer. P.T. Barnum's museum of curiosities. The Americans are the primitives, and the Indonesians are the moderns!1
The questions inherent in the on-going process of artistic interaction between Indonesia and the...
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“Representation and De-realization: Artaud, Genet, and Sartre,” in Antonin Artaud and the Modern Theater, edited by Gene A. Plunka, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994, pp. 170-82.
[In the following essay, Akstens argues that there is a similar attempt in the work of Artaud and Jean Genet to “de-realize” accepted images and definitions of reality.]
This paper concerns two writers who have been highly mythologized: Antonin Artaud and Jean Genet. There is an idea of Artaud; there is an idea of Genet. It is profoundly ironic that Artaud, who complained bitterly of “a rupture between things and words, between things and the ideas and signs that are their representation,”1 has himself often been treated as an abstraction of his “theories” and his supposed persona in a manner that seems quite divorced from any actual text.2 This may be a fate common to the writers of manifestos—the same might be said of Ezra Pound. Be that as it may, there is surely an idea of Artaud: the revolutionary conceptualist of the Theatre of Cruelty, the victim of the asylum, the brooding profile in the familiar Man Ray photograph. This abstraction of Artaud, even while it stands “ruptured” away from his text, has acquired a textuality of its own. Like it or not, the idea of Artaud informs our reading of his text; the idea of Artaud has itself become a text.3...
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“Comic Cruelty: Artaud and Jarry,” in Antonin Artaud and the Modern Theater, edited by Gene A. Plunka, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994, pp. 37-50.
[In the following essay, Koos argues that Alfred Jarry strongly influenced Artaud's concept of comedy and of its importance to the theater of cruelty.]
Our speaking on the theme of comedy will appear almost a libertine proceeding to one, while the other will think that the speaking of it seriously brings us into violent conflict with the subject.
—George Meredith, An Essay on Comedy
By providing us with the lovely illusion of human greatness, the tragic brings us consolation. The comic is crueler: it brutally reveals the meaninglessness of everything.
—Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel
In a characteristically outrageous moment in the classic Marx Brothers' film Monkey Business (1931), Groucho, being chased by the ship's captain, enters a cabin, interrupts an argument between a gangster and his wife by announcing that he is the tailor, and proceeds to disappear into the walk-in closet. In the subsequent scene, first with the gangster's wife then with the gangster himself, Groucho alternately plays, in the space of a few minutes, the part of a lawyer, a guitar player, a...
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“‘The Catastrophes of Heaven’: Modernism, Primitivism, and the Madness of Antonin Artaud,” in Modernism / Modernity, Vol. 3, No. 2, May, 1996, pp. 73-91.
[In the following essay, Sass presents a case history of Artaud as artist, primitivist, and madman, arguing that neither Artaud's art nor his madness led him out of the “malaise of modern existence,” characterized by the conflict between consciousness and instinctual being, but deeper into it.]
To heal the catastrophes of heaven, Voyage to the land of speaking blood.1
These words, with their suggestion of a hoped-for remedy for world catastrophe, are those of the poet and playwright Antonin Artaud (1896-1948), the exemplary madman of the modernist avant-garde. They were written in 1935, shortly before Artaud embarked on his own quest for the primitive, a journey to visit the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico. Artaud was, by then, thoroughly disgusted with modern civilization and profoundly disillusioned about the possibility of redemption through art. He believed that “reason, a European faculty, exalted beyond measure by the European mentality, is always an image of death”; that reason had “created the contemporary despair and the material anarchy of the world by separating the elements of the world which a real culture would bring together”...
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“Linguistic Disenchantment and Architectural Solace in DeLillo and Artaud,” in Mosaic, Vol. 30, No. 1, March, 1997, pp. 97-112.
[In the following essay, Thornton argues that in their work both Artaud and the novelist Don DeLillo transform language into an architecture of sounds.]
Contemporary literary criticism and modern philosophy are rife with architectural metaphors: just as literary critics speak of surfaces and structures, foundations, frames, and fissures, so philosophers from Kant to Heidegger to Derrida have invoked structural concepts in their theorizing. Without the architectural figure, as Mark Wigley has claimed, much of Heidegger's work would be groundless: “It is not that [Heidegger] simply theorizes architecture as such, but that theorizing is itself understood in architectural terms” (7). It is only recently, however, that critics have begun to focus specifically on the matrices between architectural theory and literary fiction. An example of this concentrated attention is Jennifer Bloomer's Architecture and the Text, in which she argues that Joyce's Finnegans Wake and Piranesi's etchings both “approach the literary in their ambiguity and invitation to a kind of narrative interpretation. … Both texts are presented as white pages upon which black marks have been made” (6). Similarly, literary critics like Fredric Jameson and Linda Hutcheon...
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“Kerouac, Artaud, and the Baroque Period of the Three Stooges,” in Mosaic, Vol. 31, No. 4, December, 1998, pp. 83-98.
[In the following essay, Sterritt argues that the writings of Jack Kerouac, the comedy of the Three Stooges, Kerouac's riffs on the Stooges, Artaud's writings about the theater of cruelty, and his wish for a body without organs are all related attempts to transcend the constraints of everyday life by the spirit of carnival.]
American life in the 1950s era was famously marked by conservative discourses of consumerism, consensus, conformity, and cold war. Less frequently noted is the fact that these ideologies were challenged by a variety of interrogative, hostile, or downright negational counterparts—or “contravisions,” to borrow a term from Stan Brakhage, perhaps the most radical avant-garde filmmaker to emerge during the period (143). Such oppositional currents ranged from the socially skeptical writings of Paul Goodman and David Riesman to far-reaching artistic explorations like those of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk in music, Jackson Pollock and the New York School in painting, Judith Malina and Julian Beck in theater, and Kenneth Anger and Gregory J. Markopoulos in film, among others in sundry fields.
Central to this activity was the literature of the Beat Generation. Allen Ginsberg's jazzlike poetry, William S. Burroughs's cut-up texts, and Jack...
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Arnold, Paul. “The Artaud Experiment.” Tulane Drama Review 8, No. 2 (Winter 1963): 15-29.
Although supporting Artaud's vision, argues that the liberation from destruction and evil through engaging in “a time of evil,” which Artaud espoused, failed in theatrical practice.
Brown, Erella. “Cruelty and Affirmation in the Postmodern Theater: Antonin Artaud and Hanoch Levin.”Modern Drama 35 (1992): 585-606.
Considers the devaluation of the verbal in postmodern drama within the context of Artaud's elevation of gesture over language.
Brustein, Robert. “Antonin Artaud and Jean Genet: The Theatre of Cruelty.” In The Theatre of Revolt: An Approach to the Modern Drama, pp. 363-411. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1962, 435p.
Considers playwright Jean Genet as Artaud's heir.
Caws, Mary Ann. “Inappropriations: A Problematics of Response.” In Understanding French Poetry: Essays for a New Millenium, edited by Stamos Metzidakis, pp. 237-48. New York: Garland Publishing, 1994, 271p.
Using Artaud as well as other poets analyzes the varieties and values of several possible types of reader responses.
Croyden, Margaret. “Artaud's Plague.” In Lunatics, Lovers, and Poets: The Contemporary Experimental Theater,...
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