Daniel's Reviews > Selected Works of Alfred Jarry

Selected Works of Alfred Jarry by Alfred Jarry
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's review
Sep 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: theatre, plays, literature
Read in September, 2010

Alfred Jarry is an acquired taste, most certainly.
If you are familiar with the works of playwrights such as Eugene Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, or the novels of Andre Breton, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, or Stanley Elkin or Harlan Ellison, then reading Jarry will be a treat. The works of Alfred Jarry are considered precursors to the surrealist, dada, and absurdist movements.
I'd read very little Jarry before this, but I was most impressed with his plays. The 'Ubu' plays are outrageously funny and much more cohesive than I expected (I was anticipating something more akin to Ionesco's "The Bald Soprano"). Ubu is a childish despot. He is greedy and vain and a delicious poke at power, greed, and politics. For the plays alone it is worth reading.
The writings on theatre are also a delight. How fun to read his own take on the theatre of his time.
His essays tend to show his off-beat sense of the world and where his Ubu plays are coming from (see..."How to Construct a Time Machine").
The fiction is a little more difficult to read (for me), mainly because of the style and era from which it was written. A bit dry and confusing. Even so, to read more of his pataphysics (his invented science) is a delight.
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