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The Supermale

3.7  ·  Rating details ·  435 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
With the very first word of his famous play Ubu Roi---Shite!---Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) threw down his challenge to literature, permanently altering its course thereafter. Jarry's equally revolutionary novels form the cornerstones of a science he named -Pataphysics, - a method for the rational disordering of rationality that has influenced countless subsequent artists and ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 30th 2009 by Exact Change (first published 1902)
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Dec 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Absurd, provocative and ultimately tragic this book is also funny in parts. Some ideas I enjoyed: that human potential is limitless but technology can harness it; that God is created by mankind in its image; and that a diet of raw mutton is what superhumans eat. There is a crazy bicycle race in this book that is very much a set piece for the potential of human powered technology that flows like a surreal dream (with dreamlike elements thrown in: a dead guy being "trained" to keep cadence with th ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
“Jarry’s Surmâle kicks Nietzsche’s Übermensch for a distance of 10,000k.” --Worshipful Master

“Not to be messed with, this Surmâle.” --Deputy Grand Master

“Also not for the queazy.” --Grand Chancellor

“Perpetual Motion? You’ve found it.” --Grand Registrar

“More enduring than anything Theophrastus ever witnessed.” --Grand Superintendent of Works

“More conventional than the average Jarry, but for all that we’re still looking at a frighteningly and offensively entertaining tale.” --Grand Sword Bearer

Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leggere questo pur breve romanzetto, surreale e grottesco, è una vera delizia. Jarry è un grande. Con un’eleganza di stile e un taglio sorprendentemente ironico e moderno (viene scritto nel 1901, anche se è ambientato nel 1920) precorre il futurismo, il dadaismo, il surrealismo e il teatro dell’assurdo (Tzara, Bretòn, Artaud, Ionesco, Beckett, e altri fino a Queneau gli debbono molto), movimenti culturali che stanno per nascere o che si affermeranno solo dopo la sua prematura scomparsa (1907), e ...more
Matthew DeCostanza
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
A mysterious stranger defies authority, wins races and woos damsels in this strange vision of a 1920 Paris.

Contained in this short novel are shades of Jules Verne, Frankenstein's Monster, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, essentially what is a primer of all early science fiction. And, as is so typical of Jarry, the author synthesizes this already oddball cocktail of influences with the literary fashions of the day: melodramatic life-and-death romance in the style of Tolstoy or Austen,
Nov 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
João Moura
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jarry escreve como se escorressem sonhos pela sua caneta. Surreal, fantástica, mirabolante, filosófica, poética, a escrita de Jarry dá mil voltas ao leitor e deixa-o pendurado no tecto sem saber bem o que leu...muito bom, portanto...
Living Belowtheclouds
Feb 02, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
I am glad that most people like this book, but to me it is a bunch of nonsense.
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is Jarry's major novel, to be read along with the Gestures and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll. Between the two you will revel in the world of pataphysics.
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
O Supermacho — Romance Moderno, livro lançado em 1902 pelo absolutamente descompensado e genial Afred Jarry (pai das peças de Ubu, que inclusive dão nome a editora), que narra os descaminhos e desventuras de um rapaz que tem um órgão sexual descomunal e um vigor sexual mítico. Reiterando: romance lançado em 1902 sobre um jovem abastado que tem um pau gigantesco e consegue foder uma infinidade de vezes em sequência. 1902.

Jarry, de dimensões surrealistas e tido como grande precursor do dadaísmo, e
Een van de meest toegankelijke romans van Jarry. Soms erg grappig, geniaal, banaal of flauw, maar nooit vervelend. Verouderde vertaling van Gerrit Komrij. Slordige uitgave, met maar liefst 3 dt-fouten.
Cheryl Anne Gardner
May 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Our protagonist Andre Marcueil had grand grand that his "Everyday ordinariness became extraordinary."

Andre firmly believes that human capacity has no limits. He believed it so fervently that he would risk his life in a ten-thousand mile race with a steam locomotive at speeds greater than 300 miles per hour with no rest and no sustenance, save the cubes of perpetual motion food, then to copulate with the same woman 82 times in twenty-four hours, and to recharge an electric chair desig
Rupert Owen
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having gleaned the reviews already on here about Alfred Jarry's The Supermale, I don't feel I really need to add much more. I will say however that I deeply enjoyed this work, it has the same anti-erotic absurd verve as Visits of Love, and in many ways experiments with the same themes. Like Shaw's Superman this is a character portrait that draws upon the Don Juan theme, except Jarry has fused it with Baron Munchausen, only to then give it the complete Ubu make-over. I will surely need to read th ...more
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it
A mad scientist tale crossed with bits of farcical high-society squabbling and one really long, bizarre passage about biking, this concerns the grand experiment of Andre Marcueil, who uses his own super-toned body to prove his theories about the infinite capacities of the human body, engaging in a weird stunt involving copulation on a grand scale. It’s tempting to the take the eventual merging of man and machine as evidence of some precursory transhumanist predictions, but it seems like Jarry is ...more
Patrick Kelly
Sep 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Another surrealist classic, Jarry dubbed himself a "pataphysician" - "one who studies the science of imaginary solutions, [pataphysics], which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments." The protagonist of the novel, Andre Marcueil can engage in sexual intercourse as many times as he wants, back to back to back to back. He describes in detail how he engages in said activity with over 50 women until doctors finally attach him to a machin ...more
Adam Browne
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Jarry's madness is most evident in the latter chapters; a confusing, muddled read - but until then, it's wonderful - the 10000 mile race between a locomotive and a 5-man bicycle is superb - its crew powered by Perpetual Motion Food, their pants filled with a soil to deal with 'both needs', the strange numinous roses that appear about the train, the Irish rider who dies, but continues pedaling, the long period when the bike and the train are moving at exactly the same speed, the trumpetlike aeria ...more
Gijs Grob
Bizarre, in de toekomst (namelijk 1920) spelende, humoristische roman over de mens en de machine. De saai overkomende André Marcueil ontpopt zich tot 'superman', vooral omdat hij de geslachtsdaad eindeloos kan herhalen.

De roman gaat praktisch alleen over seks, hoewel daar vooral door zeer gedistingeerde heren met veel klassieke verwijzingen over gepraat wordt. Bevat ook een spannend verslag van een absurde wielerwedstrijd tegen een trein. Jarry's manier van schrijven doet ongekend modern en surr
At first, looks like a big mess, making the reader (at least myself) not sure of what's the main plot/theme/discussion that the book is taking. I kept this feeling until pretty much halfway through the book.
But near the end I felt like this was an interesting and original "ode" to the amazing deeds that Mankind has achieved throughout the decades and it's capability to improve and do so much more each day. That or it was just about understanding if a man could "do it" many more times than expect
Chris Herdt
Jul 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Chris by: Miranda
This book is worth reading for the fantastic and absurd bicycle race alone: a non-stop 10,000 mile race between a train and a 4-1/2 man bicycle (there's a midget in the trunk to add weight) where the cycling team is fueled by Perpetual Motion Food. Along the way, they discover a mysterious and impossible third contestant.

Marcueil reminds me in some ways of the Count from Angela Carter's "The Infernal Desire Machines of Dr. Hoffman," both for his priapism and his reality-bending will.
Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: théatre
Le Surmâle se distinguerait-il comme la plus moderne des visions mécaniciennes de l'amour ?

A l'inverse de ce que prétendent la plupart, il ne s'agit nullement ici d'une exaltation de la mécanique amoureuse mais de sa critique sauvage, qui doit néanmoins sa radicalité au fait de ne jamais perdre de vue l'évidence ouvrant ce livre :

" L'amour est un acte sans importance puisqu'on peut le faire indéfiniment. "
Oct 09, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I liked Ubu Roi and wanted to see more of Jarry's work. It's short, so that was a relief. And it wasn't that the book was poorly written, rather, that Jarry's understanding of Nietzschean thought is very poor. Mostly it breaks down into ridiculous sexual heroics. Admittedly, I might have liked this more for its camp charm if I read it some other time.
Ryan Pangilinan
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Interesting to say the least... ahh The Supermale where do I begin? This novel deals with ideals of strength, sexuality but mostly about human limitations. The main character Marcueil constantly attempts to push the boundaries of humanity in all sorts of aspects. This novel is filled with irreverent and dark humor and it definitely left me weirded out but oddly I enjoyed each moment of it.
Laura Paxson
Sep 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
Strange book. My eccentric junky feminist friend gave this to me to read so I was very much expecting a

(Edit: I just realized, over a month later, thAt the majority of my review was deleted somehow. I am tempted to fix it but I think it's kinda funny. I'm going to leave it. Enjoy!)
Reynard Seifert
Jan 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was my second time reading Supermale and I got a lot more out of it than the first time. Of course it is absurd, but Jarry has a lot of thought behind his work. There are streaks of unimaginable beauty throughout this book. It's very close to my heart.
Nov 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I give this book five stars for creativity event though, in fact, it kind of slows down and declines in quality towards the end. If you're a Jarry fan, you'll love it. If you haven't read Jarry you'll probably like it a lot but wonder why you paid so much money for it.
Chris Salisbury
Apr 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Wow! You had better have a hankering for French exostentialism otherwise you are going to be reading this thinking, "Just what in the hell is wrong with these people?"...
Oliver St john
Jul 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Peculiar reading. Can't say I liked it, can't say I didn't.
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: made-ups
Not my favorite of his, but insane all the same.
april violet
Fun, but a bit uneven.
Feb 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
F-in Hilarious.
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  • Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life
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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
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“Dawn was breaking, like the light from another world.” 32 likes
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