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Heliogabalus; or, the Crowned Anarchist

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  600 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Translated into English for the first time, this novelized biography of the 3rd-century Roman Emperor Heliogabalus is simultaneously Artaud's most accessible and his most extreme book. Written in 1933, at the time when Artaud was preparing to stage his legendary Theatre of Cruelty, Heliogabalus is a powerful concoction of sexual excess, self-deification and terminal violen ...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published October 26th 2006 by Solar Books (first published 1934)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Steven Godin
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: france, fiction, history
Artaud, who three years after the book’s publication was incarcerated in a lunatic asylum, emerging only shortly before his death in 1948, anatomises and recreates the sexual and blood-constellated life of the infamous Roman emperor who was assassinated by his own guards at the age of 18 after four years spent relentlessly deriding and disintegrating the empire’s power. Artaud asserts that the whole life of Heliogabalus was basically anarchy in action and presents the book in three parts - 'The ...more
Argos
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bu bir tarihi araştırma-anlatım kitabı. MS 218 - 222 arası Roma İmparatoru olan, ünlü imparator Septimus Severius’un sülalesinden, annesi fahişe J. Soemia, babası net belli olmayan, Emesa (şimdiki Humus) krallığında yaşıyorken İmparator Caracalla’nın öldürülmesinin ardından düzenlenen bir isyan ve sonrasında Antiokhiea (Antakya) civarında rakiplerini savaşta yenerek başa geçen,204 Antiokhiea doğumlu Heliogabolos’un hikayesi.

A. Artaud deyişiyle tarihi utandırıp irkilten bu çılgın, ekzantrik (TDK
...more
Vit Babenco
Feb 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
“A thing named is a dead thing, and it's dead because it is set apart…”
Antonin Artaud tells the story of Heliogabalus as if he writes an alchemical treatise and in the first section: “The Cradle of Sperm” he depicts the transformation of sperm into a human being as is he is describing a transmutation of lead into gold… For him all metamorphoses are possible – the matter turns into spirit, the form becomes content.
“Principles are only of value to the mind, and to the thinking mind; but outside th
...more
Tim Pendry
Now this is a curiosity - one part flummery, one part insanity and one part genius. It is an account of sorts of the decadent teenage androgynous Emperor Heliogabalus.

Not that the average reader (in which category I include myself) will have an earthly idea what this is all about (given the limits of a modern education) until you remember that it is best not read but DECLAIMED out loud in a theatrical manner and that it has to be seen as the last flowering (written in the 1930s) of a forty year
...more
Kieran
Nov 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
This bitch was punk as fuck
Terence
Jun 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Recommended to Terence by: Steve Semon
Shelves: philosophy
Voice Claudia also describes the history of a potential, and probable, active-trait male in her territory. He declared himself a living god-emperor, and through marriage to Bene Gesserat Livia produced several generations of active-trait males. One appears to have been the first known Abomination, a man who heard “voices” and claimed to be both male and female, but whose actions were so perverse that Voice Claudia refuses to describe them. (“Bene Gesserit History,” Dune Encyclopedia Tr, p. 121)*
...more
Thomas
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
this book is pretty cool if you'd like to read artaud spend quite a few pages rambling about the differing nature of divinity in pagan religions and the related symbolism, and then giving a mini biography of heliogabalus where he says that having orgies in the imperial palace was a deliberate subversion of the roman imperial institution. all in all heliogabalus sounds like a pretty fun guy and should probably be higher in your rankings of decadent roman emperors. ...more
Baris Ozyurt
May 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
“Onu görmüş olan askerler hemen oraya üşüşür; kendi Prsetorium erleri bir anda onu saçlarından yakalayıverirler. Burada tam bir kasap tezgâhı olayı, antik dünyaya özgü iğrenç bir mezbaha sahnesi yaşanır

Fışkıran kana karışan dışkılar Heliogabalos'la annesinin etlerine dalıp çıkmakta olan kılıçların üzerine sıçrar.

Sonra cesetler çukurdan çıkarılır, meşalelerin ışığında kente taşınır ve dehşete düşen halk yığınlarının ve pencerelerini açıp alkışlayan soyluların evlerinin önünde, bütün kentte gezdir
...more
Andrew
Oct 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
While reading this book at a grocery store bench I overheard a 13 year old defend himself to his mom by saying "Pubic hair is not a swear."

My favorite quote from the book:

The written numeral is a symbol for what one cant manage to add up or measure.
The written letter is a symbol for what one can't think - the limit of thought, where thinking ends and has to rely on an object, like a lilypad in order to progress (this is how the linguistic-centric people think: language is a necessary lilypad for
...more
Troy
Apr 09, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
This book alternates between turgid/dense and fast/insane. I read it because I recently read Deleuze's The Logic of Sense and in that book Deleuze consistently talks about Lewis Carroll, the Stoics, and Artaud. I haven't read Artaud since I read The Theater and Its Double which I honestly don't remember very well, even though I remember I loved it. Anyway, I see why Deleuze loves this book; a lot of Deleuze's thought, and a lot of writing style, is encapsulated by Artaud.

The first part o
...more
una_sussa
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Quanto a Eliogabalo, egli ha il gusto della regalità, l'incoscienza di un demente precoce, l'assenza di scrupoli di un monomane e l'ingenuità senza macchia di un adolescente di quattordici anni. Tutti gli intrighi di Giulia Mesa non avrebbero mai raggiunto nulla se essi non avessero avuto per base la personalità d'Eliogabalo, se questo mostro che la Storia ha vomitato non avesse avuto in sé le dimensioni di un mostro, cosciente delle proprie crudeltà. Un bel mostro che si vuole re. Che ha l'org ...more
John
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of I believe two novels that Artaud wrote. It's about the Roman emperor Heliogabalus, whose reign was noted for degeneracy and excess to the point where his generals eventually murdered him for it. Artaud makes the argument that his corruption and excess were so extensive and pure that in themselves they constituted a work of art transposed into the real world. ...more
S̶e̶a̶n̶
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
From what I understand of them I appreciate Artaud's messages here, but I didn't find his delivery to generate particularly compelling reading. ...more
Vite da Lettore
Pensieri e Recensione: https://vitedalettore.wordpress.com/2...

La vita di Antonin Artaud è così traboccante di esperienze che sembrano esserci innumerevoli approcci su ciò che si può esprimere sul suo ruolo di scrittore nonché attore e regista di un’arte immanente che si rivolge al mondo come un’entità intera, liberata da qualsiasi esteriorità, divinità o altra figura trascendentale, il cui tutto è incluso nei processi di interazione all’interno della materia stessa. Attenendosi a tale visione
...more
Laginestra
Nov 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historia, l, francese
Per la precisione si tratta della biografia più estrema vomitata su carta. Dalla torbida concezione del futuro imperatore romano alla sua entrata sodomitica nell'urbe, fino ad arrivare alla miserabile morte nella cloaca massima: dallo sperma agli escrementi, tutto è liquidamente imbrattante ed eccessivo, nella prosa di un genio. Un capolavoro. Non scherzo. ...more
Ro L
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Me impresionó, demasiado.
Rob Atkinson
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A strange fever dream of a book, this; not too surprising, coming as it does from madman and father of the “Theater of Cruelty” Antonin Artaud. He is in complete sympathy with Heliogabalus (aka Elagabalus), the teenaged emperor (r. 218-222 AD) who is perhaps the most infamous in ancient Roman history, seeing him as a deliberate anarchist who necessarily disrupted the continuum of a decadent, spiritually impoverished Rome. Part history/biography, part metaphysical inquiry, and partly an expressio ...more
A
Whilst reading this, I considered for the first time the difficulty Artaud's writing must pose for the translator. Not because I read/speak French and am thus certain of the difficulty, but because there is a particular thorniness in the language in nearly every translation I had read, a consistent sort of thorniness that leads me to believe it's a matter of the source and not poor translation. If you go into this book unfamiliar with Artaud's work, you might find some bits difficult. I'm remind ...more
Güney Erkurt
roma imparatoru heliogabalos'u (varius avitus bassianus) gayet subjektif olarak ele alan ve gerçekten sert bir üslupla yazılmış artaud kitabı. bir erselik olan genç imparatorun ancak 4 yıl süren kıyıcı, savruk ve ahlak dışı iktidarında anarşist bir güdülenme bulunduğu iddiasındadır artaud. ona göre heliogabalos, o günün bütün dini, toplumsal ve siyasi etik değerleriyle alay etmekteydi. önemli devlet görevlilerini pozisyonlarından alıp yerine alelade insanları (arabacı, bahçevan gibi) atıyor, rom ...more
Erik
Apr 06, 2008 added it

Looking around here at peoples disappointing responses one wonders why these people "read" -the only good thing that can be said is that these people are try to evolve their consciousness (although failing)

Its 'cute' to discover that there are all these little Pandora's out there opening up Artaud/Ceasaire/Maloror>>>>WARNING! CONTENTS UNDER PRESSURE!

This ain't Dorothy Livesay Kids! If you are still stuck on Enlightenment thought skip surrealism, it won't allow itself to be constrained by the str
...more
Олег Шинкаренко
Artaud's fantasy is almost limitless. At some point, you realize that you are not reading the story of Heliogabal, but the story of Artaud himself. Artaud just covers himself with historical facts and names to simply present us with his personal phobias and passions. But what can we know about the real Heliogabal nearly 2,000 years after his death? Is there any other historian who can present us with anything but his fantasies? Any historical reconnaissance is just a random shot at a target we k ...more
aya
Jun 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very difficult for me, but difficult good. Sometimes hard to sort the gibberish from the gems, but there were some amazing nuggets. Because it's not a straightforward biography, we get a real sense of the psychology and dichotomies within the child god emperor, but not any detailed chronology.
...more
Stephen
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Straripante di concetti, paradossi, documenti, descrizioni, nomi e storie. Un'opera complessa, gravida di elementi, che richiede lo stesso studio da parte del lettore quanto quello di chi l'ha stesa. Difficile dire di più senza scadere nelle citazioni o nel banale. ...more
Laurence Leduc-Primeau
Livre marquant. Vaguement incompréhensible. Quelque part entre le délire et la recension historique. Beaucoup de voyages possibles à l'intérieur de ces pages; des couleurs et des images très fortes. ...more
Michael A.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
the most accurate biography of Heliogabalus, factual or not..!
Jay
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Antonin Artaud, on his birthday September 4
Phantasms, nightmares, prophecies, mysticisms and the surreal;
Antonin Artaud takes us with him on his quest to see beyond the Illusion of the world, to transcend appearances. We his readers are born along on his adventures like a saint’s medal around his neck, surely a saint of misfits and lost causes, seeking dreams and true visions. Our faith is that of readers, that our author will find the plot of our stories, that the ride will be worth our time.
...more
RA Perea
Apr 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Artaud es un transgresor de la tradición clásica, si por clásica queremos entender una esclerosis que paraliza al pensamiento y su expresión artística, específicamente; la poesía y el teatro. Heliogábalo, a mi punto de vista, es la reminiscencia de cultos antiguos y terribles. Es una novela histórica con una fuerte carga filosófica, en un sentido metafísico la anarquía cumple la función de estabilizar los excesos, una catástrofe que busca el equilibrio de los elementos.
Una mirada al pasado que
...more
Francesco Sapienza
Non si tratta di una biografia, né di un romanzo storico: lo vedo quasi più un divertissement che abbraccia la vicenda umana di Eliogabalo approfondendone soprattutto i contorni mistico-religiosi. Si viene ad apprendere quanto il culto del Sole fosse presente nell'antica Siria, a seguito soprattutto dello scisma d'Irshu; e -solo nella parte finale- la vicenda mefitica che porta Eliogabalo a diventare imperatore (a soli 14 anni), a seguito delle trame delle tre Giulie, e a morire (a soli 18 anni) ...more
Doom Slayer
Apr 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story about a really depraved femboy with an appetite for absolute self indulgent excess, written in an almost incomprehensible prose which weaves in and out of coherency. Definitely could have been tied together in a way which makes more senses, as it seemed to really meander into strange and unwarranted territory a lot, but does this book ever appeal to the side of me that just wants depraved avant garde writing. Here it is. If it's a little tedious, I can't complain, because it's actually e ...more
Enrico
Ma cos'ho appena letto, un delirio?
Mio limite, certo, ma non ho capito granché di questo libro. Non lo posso valutare.
Le parti più didascaliche non sono di certo la biografia che mi aspettavo, ma sono comprensibili, scritte con accenti di poesia, e tutto sommato piacevoli.
La parte centrale, quella della guerra dei princìpi, l'ho trovata davvero incomprensibile (non sono mai stato un granché in filosofia).
...more
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Antoine Marie Joseph Artaud, better known as Antonin Artaud, was a French playwright, poet, essayist, actor, and theatre director.

Considered among the most influential figures in the evolution of modern drama theory, Antonin Artaud associated himself with Surrealist writers, artists, and experimental theater groups in Paris during the 1920s.

When political differences resulted in him breaking from
...more

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“...beneath the temple of Emesa there is a system of special sewers wherein the human blood rejoins the plasma of certain animals. Through these sewers, coiling into broiling corkscrews whose circles diminish the further they descend to the depths of the earth, the blood of those sacrificed according to the needful rites will find its way back to the geological seams, the congealed cracks of chaos. This pure blood, thinned and refined by the rituals, and rendered acceptable to the god of the underworld, splashes the groaning deities of Erebus, whose breath finally purifies it.” 7 likes
“A thing named is a dead thing, and it's dead because it is set apart…” 1 likes
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