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Heliogabalus; or, the Crowned Anarchist

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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  475 ratings  ·  35 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 ...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published October 26th 2006 by Solar Books (first published 1934)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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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
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
...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
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 of
...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 ...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
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.
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.
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 ...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 ...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
...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.
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.
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.
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
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, ...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 ...more
David Pagnanelli
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Romanzo storico? Chissenefrega!
Volevo leggere Artaud.
Volevo essere travolto da qualcosa di troppo strano per essere vero.
Non il massimo dei voti per i continui rimandi alle note per capire veramente a fondo di cosa si sta parlando. Colpa della mia ignoranza? Potrebbe essere...
Michele
Gran bel delirio
Juan
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me volvió loco. La que va.
Gerardo
Aug 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le texte examine l'histoire d'Héliogabale, un empereur romain du III siècle. Artaud reconstitue la vie de l'empereur grâce à les sources littéraire contemporaine, de plus il réfléchit sur la figure symbolique d'Héliogabale même. En fait, Héliogabale a une beauté féminine et il prend part aux rites pédérastes : pour ça il représente l'union du féminin et du masculin dans une vision monothéiste que tout absorbe. Donc, selon cette idée il y a beaucoup d'éléments dans le monde, mais chaque chose ...more
Haultaine
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
to put it shortly; this rules, as one might expect a crowned anarchist to rule, excessively. This book is poetry in its finest, most confusing, and most depraved form. Wonderful. The theatre and reality are not separate. unreal and real and neither of the above. if someone slays your best friend it’s best to fuck the assassin in your best friend’s blood as it spreads across the filthy ground.
Mike
Oct 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Nasty young man becomes emperor of Rome; mayhem ensues. Artaud's narration of the events swallows the empire whole and then deposits it into the basin of our understanding.

The layout of this book was just terrible. The publisher failed to do the most perfunctory copyfitting—there are widows and orphans strewn about the text.
Radoslaw
Apr 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to read this as soon as I get my hands on it though sections of it are in the large, red Artaud anthology. Artaud finds one of his doubles in Heliogabalus, a Roman emperor who makes most other rulers look tame in comparison. The translation is done by the guy who did the recent Maldoror, so it's going to be good too.
Francesco D'Isa
Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
"Heliogabalus was born in an era when everybody slept with everybody” and he’s the hero of this era: he leads every extreme to its peek and dies in the war between men and women, because "it’s not the coitus but death [...] of which all these religions reveal the imposing, evil figure".

Plot: Elagabalus was born a priest, becomes god-emperor and dies in the sewers.
Alvaro
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio, novel
A pretexto de um anarquista romano desfrutamos de um surrealismo enriquecido pelo detalhe de uma pesquisa obsessiva. No fim fica a dúvida se lemos uma história, um exercício retórico ou poesia transformada insidiosamente numa prosa biográfica. Seja como for, mastiga-se!
trovateOrtensia
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: francia
La disorganizzazione dell’ordine, le urgenze del caos e la demoralizzazione sistematica del potere: Artaud e l’allegra fuga verso il nulla di Eliogabalo, l’imperatore vissuto e morto “in stato di aperta ribellione”.
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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
“...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.” 5 likes
“heliogabalos'un bütün yaşamı, eylem halinde anarşidir. zira düşman kutuplar olan erkekle kadını, bir ile iki'yi, bir araya getiren birlikçi tanrı elegabalus çelişkilerin sonu, savaşın ve anarşinin -ama savaşla- ortadan kaldırılmasıdır; aynı zamanda bu çelişki ve düzensizlik ülkesinde anarşinin uygulamaya konmasıdır. ve anarşi de, heliogabalos'un vardığı noktada, gerçekleşmiş şiirdir.” 1 likes
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