Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

A precursor of surrealism and credited with having invented the Theater of the Absurd, Alfred-Henry Jarry included homosexual characters and themes in most of his works.

Jarry was born in Laval (Brittany) on September 8, 1873. His mother, an eccentric, headstrong woman who strongly influenced her son, left her husband when Jarry was six, taking her children with her and moving first to Saint-Brieuc (1879) and then to Rennes (1888). Images and material from Jarry's Breton childhood would later appear throughout his work.

He moved to Paris in 1891 to attend Lycée Henri IV and began publishing in 1893, when two of his works were awarded prizes. His success gained him entrance the following year to the group of writers affiliated with the newly founded Mercure de France.

From 1893 to 1895, he enjoyed a brief but intense relationship with his reputed literary collaborator, the future poet Léon-Paul Fargue, a fellow student at Henri IV. Though Jarry jested often about his homosexuality, this is his only known relationship, and it provided the material for his semiautobiographical play, Haldernablou (1894).

Jarry, at twenty-three, reached the height of his literary fame in December 1896, when the premier of Ubu roi (King Ubu) at Lugné-Poe's Théâtre de l'Oeuvre caused a riot with its opening word, merdre (loosely translated as "shee-it"). The play closed after the second performance.

Jarry continued to write over the next eleven years, but he gained little or no recognition. A heavy drinker given to eccentric extremes of behavior, he died on November 1, 1907, at the age of thirty-four.

Credited with having invented the Theater of the Absurd with Ubu Roi and his theories of staging, Jarry was also a novelist, poet, and journalist. His work is characterized by a love of paradox and by bizarre juxtapositions of images, which led the surrealists to claim him as one of their precursors. His quick wit and keen sense of the absurd came together in pataphysics, his science of imaginary solutions.

Sexuality in all its excess and perversity provides the subject matter for much of Jarry's work. But even his most outrageous novels reveal a curiosity marked more by innocence than by prurience.

Although the semiautobiographical Haldernablou (in Les Minutes de sable mémorial [Minutes of Memorial Sand, 1894]) is his only work to deal exclusively with homosexuality, homosexual characters and themes appear in other works, particularly Les Jours et les Nuits (Days and Nights, 1897), L'Amour en visites (Love Goes Visiting, 1898), Messaline (The Garden of Priapus, 1899), and Le Surmâle (The Supermale, 1902).

In 1903, Baron Jacques d'Adelsward-Fersen, a second-rate poet and minor aristocrat, was charged with recruiting lycée students to participate in black masses and orgies "in the greek style." Jarry wrote about the affair in three articles ("L'Ame ouverte à l'art antique" ["Opening the Soul to Ancient Art"], "Littérature," and "Héliogabale à travers les âges" ["Heliogabalus Through the Centuries"], all collected in La Chandelle verte [The Green Candle, 1969]), which, though not directly supportive of the Baron, satirize the bourgeois perception of homosexuality's threat to family values by relocating the threat from the supposed pederast to the legal system itself.

Like Jarry himself, his characters are often marginals, struggling to maintain a sense of their own identity in a world that refuses to understand them. Though these struggles invariably end in destruction, we find in them representations of the homosexual actively attempting to assert and to create himself at a time when homosexuality was becoming increasingly pathologized.

Citation Information
Author: Brown, A. Mitchell
Entry Title: Jarry, Alfred
General Editor: Claude J. Summers
Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture
Publication Date: 2002
Date Last Updated July 24, 2006
Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/jarry_a.html
Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL 60607
Today's Date November 1, 2012
Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.
Entry Copyright © 1995, 2002 New England Publishing Associates

Further Readings:

Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life by Alastair Brotchie
Hardcover: 424 pages
Publisher: The MIT Press (September 16, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0262016192
ISBN-13: 978-0262016193
Amazon: Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life

When Alfred Jarry died in 1907 at the age of thirty-four, he was a legendary figure in Paris--but this had more to do with his bohemian lifestyle and scandalous behavior than his literary achievements. A century later, Jarry is firmly established as one of the leading figures of the 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. A community of scholars and artists maintain a posthumous dialogue with Jarry's ideas through the Collège de 'Pataphysique in Paris (named after the "science of imaginary solutions" he conceived), while a steady stream of books on twentieth-century drama pay tribute to his absurd and grotesque play, Ubu Roi. Even so, most people today tend to think of Jarry only as the author of that play, and of his life as a string of outlandish "ubuesque" anecdotes, often recounted with wild inaccuracy. In this first full-length critical biography of Jarry in English, Alastair Brotchie reconstructs the life of a man intent on inventing (and destroying) himself, not to mention his world, and the "philosophy" that defined their relation. In short, Brotchie gives us the narrative version of what Jarry himself produced--a pataphysical life. Drawing on a wealth of new material, Brotchie alternates chapters of biographical narrative with chapters that connect themes, obsessions, and undercurrents that relate to the life. The anecdotes remain, and are even augmented: Jarry's assumption of the "ubuesque," his inversions of everyday behavior (such as eating backwards, from cheese to soup), his exploits with gun and bicycle, and his herculean feats of drinking. But Brotchie distinguishes between Jarry's purposely playing the fool and deeper nonconformities that appear essential to his writing and his thought, both of which remain a vital subterranean influence to this day.

This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/3326038.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.


2016 LGBT Rainbow Awards

2016 Guidelines
2015 Winners

In the Spotlight

Top 100 Gay Novels List - Simple
Top 100 Gay Novels List - Wanted


Previous Appointments Visual Summary

Gay Themed Movie

Previous Appointments Visual Summary

The Inside Reader

Previous Appointments Visual Summary
Top 100 Inside Readers Novels

LGBT Fashion Designers

Previous Appointments Visual Summary

Check out my books

Gay Romance Challenge

Gay Commercial

Around the World

visited 20 states (8.88%)
Create your own visited map of The World

visited 15 states (30%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Gay Classics

Previous Appointments Visual Summary

Romance History

Previous Appointments Visual Summary

Main Tags

Characters: Alpha Males, Cinderfellas (from rags to riches...), Friends (with benefits), Multicultural Lovers, Pretty... Men! (hustlers) & Virgins (at least in one way)
Dream Lovers: Cowboys, Pirates & Sheikhs
Erotica (M/F)
Genres: Contemporary, Fantasy, Futuristic, Historical & Paranormal
Length: Short Story, Novella & Novel
Men in Uniform: Cops / Detectives / PIs, Firefighters & Military
Non Conventional Lovers: Elves, Gods, Deity & Witches, Furry Lovers, Shapeshifters & Vampires
Otherwordly Lovers: Angels, Demons & Ghosts
Possible Futures: Apocalypse Now & Back to the Future
Relationships: Bondage / Submission, Breeches Rippers, Coming of Age, Disability, Gay for You, Male Pregnancy, May / December, Ménage a trois (or more...), Silver Romance & Twincest
Settings: Art World, College, Medical Romance, Office Affairs, Seasonal Romance, Show Business & Sports
Yaoi (manga)
From Movie to Novel (and viceversa)
Top 100 Gay Novels List

Secondary Tags

Artist: illustrator, painter, photographer, sculptor
Author: novelist, playwright, poet, screenwriter, writer
Dancer: dance, choreographer
Designer: architect, costumer, fashion designer, graphic designer, hairstylist, makeup artist, set designer, tailor
Director: director, stage director
Eccentric: aristocrat, art collector, drag queen, explorer, female impersonator, heir/heiress, hostess, lover, muse, prostitute, socialite, spy, survivor
Essayist: anthropologist, archivist, biologist, columnist, critic, editor, educator, historian, journalist, lecturer, librarian, linguistic, philosopher, professor, psychoanalyst, psychologist, psychotherapist, publisher, reporter, researcher, scholar, sexologist, sociologist, teacher, theorist
Leader: commander, emperor, judge, monarch, officer, politician, senator, statistician, warrior
Musician: arranger, composer, conductor, lyricist, pianist, singer, songwriter, violinist
Producer: producer, manager, entrepreneur

Preditors & Editors Poll

Amazon Profile

My Associate Amazon Store

Goodreads Profile

Top reviewer
Best reviewer
Top user
Top librarian
Most followed

Library Thing Helper Badgers

(Gold Medal) Helper for contributions to any area of LibraryThing
(Gold Medal) Common Knowledge for contributions to Common Knowledge
(Gold Medal) Work Combination for help maintaining LibraryThing's work system
(Silver Medal) Author Combination for help combining author names together
(Bronze Medal) Distinct authors for splitting homonymous authors into distinct authors


List of LGBT publishers (for reviews look the Tags section)
Detailed List

Ego Surfing

Who links me



Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings
Country Share

Country Share

Site Meter
Site Meter


All cover art, photo and graphic design contained in this site are copyrighted by the respective publishers and authors. These pages are for entertainment purposes only and no copyright infringement is intended. Should anyone object to our use of these items please contact by email the LJ's owner.
This is an amateur blog, where I discuss my reading, what I like and sometimes my personal life. I do not endorse anyone or charge fees of any kind for the books I review. I do not accept money as a result of this blog.
I'm associated with Amazon/USA Affiliates Programs.
Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. However, some books were purchased by the reviewer and not provided for free. For information on how a particular title was obtained, please contact by email the LJ's owner.

Latest Month

March 2020



Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow