Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ubu Roi” as Want to Read:
Ubu Roi
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ubu Roi

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  4,421 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Le personnage d'Ubu, né d'une pièce créée par des lycéens, est devenu le symbole universel de l'absurdité du pouvoir, du despotisme, de la cruauté. Jarry en montre le ridicule, lui oppose l'arme que les faibles gardent face aux tyrans, la formidable liberté intérieure que donne le rire. Le sens du comique et de l'humour change le tyran en marionnette, en ballon gonflé d'ai ...more
Mass Market Paperback, édition de Noel Arnaud, 197 pages
Published May 22nd 2002 by Gallimard; Folio (classique) (first published December 9th 1896)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.63  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,421 ratings  ·  167 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Emily
Jul 04, 2011 added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Like most of the participants in Ubu Week, I am at a bit of a loss when it comes to actually writing about Alfred Jarry's aggressively odd contribution to French theatre. Having only read the first play in the series, Ubu roi (which I understand is not the best), I am left with an impression of frat-boy humor that is somehow also a revolutionary step toward surrealism; a piece that invites comparison to everything from Shakespeare's Falstaff, to Monty Python's exploding man sketch, to some kind ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Aug 19, 2013 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Pantagruelists
Recommended to Nathan "N.R." by: Chuck LoPresti
Shelves: new-directions
(view spoiler)
Matea
This was so... ridiculous! Or it's maybe that I just don't understand surrealistic literature, but you know what, I don't care one bit about it.
It was very easy to read, though.

description (
John Allen
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jarry's perverse creation, "Ubu Roi", is now running the United States. Thus Jarry takes his place as the artist-prophet.
Book Wyrm
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who think shitting yourself in public is funny
Shelves: time-of-top-hats
You could sum up this play in a single quote from its stage directions: 'Clown explodes'.
A longer summary is difficult, and despite what I'd heard about this play, it seems less proto-Dada and more just ga-ga. Imagine Macbeth rewritten by a sadistic scat fetishist with some unwarranted hatred for Poland and you've bearly scratched the surface of something that is pretty much hollow. It's a series of weird gags and deliberate shock tactics, with the extremely rare amusing line; pure farce for far
...more
Amy Hawthorne
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This play is funny and absurd ~ as it's meant to be for an absurdist drama! The settings move about quickly, the action is fast paced and predictable, the characters are gluttonous and disgusting.

I have no idea how I feel about this kind of drama yet. The production I watched on youtube played on the filthy language and actions of Mama and Papa Ubu. It's cringe worthy, awkward but a real development in theatre at the time and I think when I've studied this play (as with most of the texts we stu
...more
Kichi
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's nothing quite like laughing at something and then thinking deeply about it. Alfred Jarry makes you do this a lot in Ubu Roi. It's a brilliant satire on power playing in politics.
Phillip
Feb 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
What's unique and interesting about Ubu Roi is that it is one of those plays that secured its fame because there were riots (later named the Ubu Riots) at its premier. Of course, for modern theatre goers, violence, sexual activity, and swearing are all common place, so I think Ubu Roi is not as shocking today as it certainly would have been when it was first performed and confronted an audience whose sensibilities were conditioned by a Symbolist aesthetic.

It seems like Jarry's goal was to stage
...more
Loretta
If John Waters-- not the JW of Hairspray or Cry Baby, but the down and dirty creator of Pink Flamingoes-- did an interpretation mash up of Macbeth and Julius Caesar... You might get something approaching this play. I had a different translation, one that the translator, David Copelin, called the only one "with balls."

Well, sheeyit! Funny, disturbing, gross... And the exploration of corruption, tyranny, and greed of man still very relevant, of course.
Steve
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Jarry's teaching could be summarised thus: every man is capable of showing his contempt for the stupidity and cruelty of the universe by making his own life a poem of incoherance and absurdity."

His last request was for a toothpick.
Jessica
Jul 24, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Macbeth retold as an absurdist drama revolving around shit? Yes. As a matter of fact, that is what this play is about.
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
Alfred Jarry is probably in my top 20 favorite writers & this is his most famous bk. It's also one of the ones that I find least interesting. It's basically juvenilia - striking in its clear rebelliousness & biting satire but not necessarily THAT great otherwise. Nonetheless, I HAVE 7 EDITIONS OF THIS - 4 IN ENGLISH, 1 IN SPANISH, & 2 IN FRENCH. & mon Français est minimale (et mauvais) & I don't speak Spanish at all. Each of the editions is interestingly different. This parti ...more
Wendy Crittenden
i do believe that this is the dude that we discussed in art h. methods seminar (though none of my goodreads friends were in that seminar) this past semester when we were reading examples of post-colonial art historical practices with a sociological approach. he was only briefly mentioned but as my group presented the article containing the blurb about him, i of course excitedly tripped on his mention and haven't forgotten about his absurdist approach to exploiting colonialism. i am a bit excited ...more
Noah
Absurd, childish, a catalyst for those movements which would embrace childish absurdity. It is not so much a work of literature as it is a subversion of everything previously revered in literature -- and for this reason, 'Ubu Roi' should be read. Its primary shortcomings are brevity and shallowness, which seem to be the result of the work's adolescent composition (it was originally penned during his childhood) and the obtuseness necessitated by its theatrical performance.
Anthony
Oct 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
by my green candle, this one's a wild ride. absurdist theater in the 1890's?
Rachel
A strange, strange play. I know he came first, but Pere Ubu reminds me of Ignatius Reilly of Confederacy of Dunces.
Laura Collins
I have no idea what that was...

I can see how it might be seen as clever and linking to absurd art movements at the time but it is not an enjoyable read... MEH
Edie Maas
Easily the most incisive and best researched of the Trump biographies. 3.5
Jared
Mar 19, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not technically a huge fan of surrealist literature (even though Ubu Roi predates surrealism, but it often attributed as the absurd which lead to surrealism...), but nevertheless I found the book somewhat interesting. Definitely not the best play I've ever read, but there were many attributes of it that I rather enjoyed, specifically the idea of the antihero and the power of prayer (or lack thereof?) throughout.

First off, I LOVE that Père Ubu is the main character but he's so unlikeable that you
...more
Paul
Jan 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Comical. Vulgar. Absurdist. A few adjectives which come to mind to describe this play. Pere Ubu, the main character, is cowardly, lazy, despicable, comical, a tyrant, a bloodthirsty murderer, greedy, idiotic, a liar, manipulative. He reminds me of a particular politician currently running for the oval office. A particular Mr. Trump or at least the Trump persona. As politics goes this election season, the tale of this oaf could not be more relevant. It is as hyperbolic as any satirical piece but ...more
Paula Koneazny
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Paula Koneazny by: Jean Baudrillard
Shelves: french, plays
Ubu roi is first and foremost a piece of theater and thus is better seen in performance than read. I first heard of this play during a lecture by Jean Baudrillard at Columbia back in 2005. Baudrillard claimed to be a pataphysician, a "philosophy" that he traced back to Alfred Jarry's Ubu roi. I don't claim to even now have a firm grasp of exactly what pataphysics "means" (neither Baudrillard nor Ubu roi were (are) particularly illuminating on the subject) other than that it purports to be the "s ...more
Dominick
May 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Perhaps this plays well, but as a text is it pretty disjointed. There's not much in the way of plot; the action and characters seem designed more to violate and subvert expectations of action and character, and to be shocking (the first word is a slightly-misspelled "shit," quite shocking in 1896, and there's a lot of other deliberately transgressive stuff--by 1896 standards, anyway, though hardly by 2016 ones), than to do anything else. It's aggressively unrealistic, proto-absurdism, I guess, a ...more
Blair
Sep 15, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pere Ubu kills two characters with a toilette brush! Theatre can't get any better than that! All I knew about this play was as a resource from my readings on Brecht and that the 1896 audience caused an uproar when it premiered.

The play is not dated or has aged poorly. Any person living under the rule of a confused, generally stupid, grotesque and/or power-hungry leader can relate to this in some way.

The drawings done by Franciszka Themerson years later may give the reader an idea what viewing
...more
Lorena
Dec 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: french-lit
What a grotesque character is King Ubu. He isn't dumb, he is just a coward, brutish, grotesque, pathetic... The adjectives aren't enough to define Ubu's person. It is this very character who develops such ridiculous situations like the murder of a king just because the lands aren't enough as an appreciation of his potential.

Another unique character is the queen Ubu, who tries to balance her husband's moods, and aims to have a say about his decisions and actions. King Ubu shows the core human na
...more
Stephen Gallup
The first word of this play is a thinly disguised vulgarity (which sparked a riot when the play was first staged in 1896), the treatment of humanity is degrading, and the plot is a low-brow farce on great literature (most obviously, Macbeth). One may well ask whether the thing merits any consideration at all. I think there's a thin line separating the slapstick from the profound, and depending on how it's staged this play could probably be either. Pere Ubu has all the fatal flaws of all the char ...more
Shanil
Jun 14, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible.

Picked it up as it keeps popping up in references relating to herald of the Avant-Guard...

It is junk. It's "purposeful" crude writing, childish adaptation of classic themes, and "structured" lack of structure... can also be found in the writing of uninspired teenagers all over.

My only plus out of this ordeal is that I now have an obscure reference to throw out and impress people... not because I want to impress people... but because the proponents of the movement that support this book,
...more
DeadWeight
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Like Macbeth as reimagined by Channel 101-Era Justin Roiland and GG Allin. Like Hamlet by way of Monty Python via the Theater of the Absurd. I'd recommend this play to everyone, and yet I'm not sure if this is something I'd recommend to anyone. There really isn't much to say about it aside from the surprising mental effort it takes to remain invested in what's going on when the play itself so flagrantly is not. And yet it's... really enjoyable. Really oddball. Juvenile. Fucking absolutely bo ...more
Maddsurgeon
Found this interesting, but frankly I expected to be a lot more groundbreaking, a lot more vulgar, and a lot funnier, based on all the hype. A lot can happen in a hundred years, and I can see how it would have ruffled feathers in Paris in 1896. It's kind of entertaining as a crude cartoon, it's got echoes of Macbeth, Hamlet and Richard III, and the themes -- treating the middle class as blustering, greedy oafs -- seem to still resonate today. I would be interesting to see what someone would do w ...more
Dustin Reade
Sep 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am usually not a big fan of plays. They seem so...pretentious.
But Ubu Roi...well, it is something special.

First off: it is hilarious. The characters say and do the most ridiculous stuff and the social satire (of, y'know, France a really, really long time ago)is incredible.

Secondly: it is scathing. Offensive. There are swear words, sacrilege, blasphemy, heresy, and all around morally reprehensible behavior throughout.

This is the first bizarro novel.
This is the birth of Guignol.

This...is UBU RO
...more
eliza
Feb 03, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school, french
This probably deserves more stars if French is your first language or if you are really into modernist drama, but Jarry's absurdist manipulation of language was a little fatiguing for me. (For example, the dedication to Marcel Schwob reads, "Adonc le Père Ubu hoscha la poire, dont fut depuis nommé par les Anglois Shaekspeare, et avez de lui sous ce nom maintes belles tragœdies par escript." WTF!) But Père Ubu is a great Homer Simpson-esque character and there are some funny zingers.
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Anthology of Black Humor
  • The Theater and Its Double
  • The Chairs
  • The Banquet Years: The Origins of the Avant-Garde in France, 1885 to World War I
  • The Balcony
  • Paris Peasant
  • Aunt Dan and Lemon
  • Alfred Jarry: A Pataphysical Life
  • Impressions of Africa
  • Mandragola
  • Tiny Alice
  • Fefu and Her Friends
  • Far Away
  • Les Parents Terribles
  • Passion Play (TCG Edition)
See similar books…
165 followers
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
“That's a beautiful speech, but nobody's listening. Let's go.” 16 likes
“I intended that when the curtain went up the scene should confront the public like the exaggerating mirror in the stories of Madame Leprince de Beaumont, in which the depraved saw themselves with dragons' bodies, or bulls' horns, or whatever corresponded to their particular vice. It is not surprising that the public should have been aghast at the sight of its other self, which it had never before been shown completely. This ignoble other-self, as Monsieur Catulle Mendes has excellently said, is composed "of eternal human imbecility, eternal lust, eternal gluttony, the vileness of instinct magnified into tyranny; of the sense of decency, the virtues, the patriotism & the ideals peculiar to those who have just eaten their fill." Really, these are hardly the constituents for an amusing play, & the masks demonstrate that the comedy must at the most be the macabre comedy of an English clown, or of a Dance of Death.” 6 likes
More quotes…