Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician
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Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  312 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Alfred Jarry is best known as the author of the proto-Dada play "Ubu Roi," but this anarchic novel of absurdist philosophy is widely regarded as the central work to his oeuvre. Refused for publication in the author's lifetime, "Exploits and Opinion of Dr. Faustroll" recounts the adventures of the inventor of "Pataphysics . . . the science of imaginary solutions." Pataphysi...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 15th 1996 by Exact Change (first published 1911)
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Zadignose
Dec 01, 2013 Zadignose added it
Shelves: 20th-century
I was sadly disappointed by this book. I had high expectations, but found the reading experience largely tedious. My principal critique would have to be that, though the book is outrageous and silly, and thus appears to court laughs, it's actually mostly unfunny.

It has produced a significant conflict within me. I have, at a certain time past, written a certain work with only one guiding principle: do not limit or constrain one's creativity in any way. That is, I aimed to write without any concer...more
Lee Foust
Since, by the laws of pataphysics, each thing defines and supersedes it's opposite thing, this worst of all novels--because lacking an acceptable narrative or believable characters of a coherent point--is, of course, the greatest of all novels for its scientific complexity, utterly trivial silliness, homage to so many friends, send up of Sir john Mandeville's travels, and the finest-drawn of all loquacious characters in the history of literature, Bosse-de-Nage, the butt-cheek-faced baboon cabin...more
Dan
Jun 17, 2013 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: novels
This novel does not have much of a plot. It depicts a three-men-in-a-tub situation (to be exact, two men and a baboon). The three experience a series of adventures, some with mortal consequences, as they visit different fantastic islands. The novel includes a lecture by Faustroll on ’Pataphysics.

The writing, with sentences like “The place where the sun sets has the appearance, between the folds comprising the Town’s mesentery, of the vermiform appendix of a caecum” (59), will send some readers s...more
Steve Morrison

An amazing title. Concerns the surreal odyssey of one Dr. Faustroll who, among other things, sails in a sieve with his baboon and visits a series of bizarre and satirical islands (all apparently located within downtown Paris) before transforming into an astral body and attempting to calculate the surface of God. Along the way he invents "pataphysics," which is described as "the science of imaginary solutions." It's all very Rabelaisan and loads of fun.
Steve
The root of 'pataphysics and an unrelentingly weird novel by the master of such, Faustroll is really funny in an occluded way and has much to teach burgeoning lunatics.
23
As a fairly unread reader, this work is pretty dense and nebulous and very heady with lots of references. I think other reviewers have done a better job highlighting the difficulty in understanding the work. Undoubtedly I'll have to come back and read it again to come to a greater understanding.

Despite that, Jarry has an uncanny talent at surreal and whimsical language. So many of the stories are just so succinctly written and beautifully described. 2 stars for difficulty, 5 stars for imaginatio...more
Amy
from the Introduction:

Doctor Faustroll puts Henri Rousseau in charge of a "painting machine" to "embellish" the academic canvases hanging in the Luxembourge Museum. While Faustroll has an erotic adventure, the painting machine under the Lucretian name of Clinamen executes thirteen paintings, each described in a short prose poem.

This one is called "Love":

The soul is wheedled by Love who looks exactly like an iridescent veil and assumes the masked face of a chrysalis. It walks upon inverted skull...more
Matt Webb
Like the other Jarry, I'm not sure I liked it while I was reading it, and I definitely didn't understand, but there's something under the surface - the ideas, the worldview - which has stuck with me more than most books I read, and it's growing with time.

And here's the definition:

'pataphysics ... is the science of that which is superinduced upon metaphysic ... extending as far beyond metaphysics as the latter extends beyond physics. Ex: an epiphenomenon being often accidental, pataphysics will b...more
Rise
Alfred Jarry started the movement called 'pataphysics which is a sort of extension of science, metaphysics, and religion. The principles of 'pataphysics are conspicuously given in this experimental book. The language is beautiful, always courting poetry. But it needs a ton of annotations to be understood. Well, maybe not a ton, but surely ample footnotes. The uninitiated (like me) will either appreciate the surreal prose poems which soar like kites, or blink helpless at the surreal passages zoom...more
Tom
Stars for the book's importance in influencing dada and surrealism; lack of stars for its tedium. "Exploits" often reminded me of Melville's "The Confidence-Man," which consisted of numerous set pieces that introduced type after type of person found traveling the Mississippi, just as "Exploits" encounters a variety of eccentric figures, often based on Jarry's friends. In both books, "encounters" is the operative verb--it's all "Hail, fellow! Well met!," then on to the next chapter. Books don't n...more
Keith Edwards
One of the starngest books you'll ever read, Faustroll is a proto-surrealist novel written at the turn of the 20th century. A mock odyssey, it follows Faustroll the titular Pataphysician as he, a hydrocyphalic baboon and a bailiff travel through imaginary worlds that are also parts of Paris and a brief history of late 9th century art in a boat that is also a sieve.
Mark
Feb 18, 2009 Mark added it
It's a very Rabelais type book, but the changes in shift and tone are even more random. What's surprising to me, coming from the Ubu Plays, is just how beautiful Jarry's prose really is-- he wasn't some hack, he could really write. Anyway, this book is essentially just a beautiful and funny fable. Ha ha.
Anthony
a sort of dada odyssey-- dr. faustroll sails in a sieve to a series of surreal islands in a "pataphysical" quest for knowledge with a talking baboon for a navigator (who, incidentally, can only say "ha ha"). "GOD IS THE TANGENTIAL POINT BETWEEN ZERO AND INFINITY."
Dave
I am very thankful that this book had annotations. Jarry was from a time when knowledge of classical work was the mark of education. He makes a lot of references that were lost on me. The story itself was fairly interesting, if a bit, I don't know, absurd...
Amira Hanafi
Reading this is like having a gas enter your ear and float about just touching some neurons and just as quickly float back out. Maybe it leaves a molecule. The molecule is pronounced "HA HA".
Gustl
Questo libro di Jarry, ha tutta l'apparenza di una grossa ragnatela sulla grata interna raggiunge le onde esterne.
Componimento Dadaista, 30 anni prima del cut up di W.Burroughs.
Pedro Zavala
No wonder I hava a blog with a very similar title, you need to read it to find out the total surface of god, the real shape of the clocks or even all the exceptions.
Antiabecedarian
Oct 20, 2007 Antiabecedarian rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: novice dictators
Good times. Learn how to sail a green sea in a sieve. Any need or desire for the study of Shakespeare's foils is removed, it is the Source of Fools.
Dan
objectively, one of the best books i've ever read.
why didn't anyone tell me about this book sooner?
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Jul 21, 2014 Nathan "N.R." Gaddis marked it as to-read
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Chuck LoPresti
"'Pataphysics: A Useless Guide by Andrew Hugill":

http://www.bookforum.com/review/10464
Buck
Jan 13, 2008 Buck added it
I know I read it but I can't remember a damn thing about it.
Lori
Essential reading for entering Jarry's world.
Brendan Shea
Don't fuck with Bosse-de-Nage.
Adam
This book is a blissful bomb...
Mario Krušlin
Mario Krušlin marked it as to-read
Jul 28, 2014
Corey
Corey marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2014
Josh
Josh added it
Jul 24, 2014
Krystal Kyu
Krystal Kyu marked it as to-read
Jul 24, 2014
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Alfred Jarry was a French writer born in Laval, Mayenne, France, not far from the border of Brittany; he was of Breton descent on his mother's side.
Best known for his play Ubu Roi (1896), which is often cited as a forerunner to the surrealist theatre of the 1920s and 1930s, Jarry wrote in a variety of genres and styles. He wrote plays, novels, poetry, essays and speculative journalism. His texts p...more
More about Alfred Jarry...
Ubu Roi The Ubu Plays: Ubu Rex / Ubu Cuckolded / Ubu Enchained The Supermale Adventures in 'Pataphysics Days and Nights

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