Artaud and His Doubles
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Michigan Press
Series: Theater: Theory/Text/Performance
Title Page, Copyright
A Note on the Texts and Translations Used
A small fraction of Artaud’s writing is available to the English-language reader. Only four volumes of the twenty-six-volume Oeuvres complètes have been translated into the English Collected Works...
Introduction : The Uses and Abuses of Antonin Artaud
An apocalyptic sensibility drives the writing of Antonin Artaud, infuriated and propelled by a sense of the world’s utter and unimaginable wrongness. Artaud’s works, expressing exhilaration in brutality and seeking peace in annihilation...
Section I : The Fight against Civilization; or, The Rebirth of Tragedy
Chapter 1 : Invocation of the Plague
Horrific new life spreads rapidly over its progenitor in the form of a million poisonous creatures. A ruptured sexual organ lights up the world, “flash[ing] like the sun,” after which a brothel keeper flees and a virgin rises from the dead...
Chapter 2 : Reactionary Modern
In the long history of alternatives to rationality, Artaud’s writing occupies a critical place. A vein of irrationalist and vitalist thought that had flowed through late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe found a ferocious and climactic articulation after World War I...
Section II : Audience, Mass, Crowd
Chapter 3 : The Avant-Garde and the Audience
A theater audience, as it appeared in Paris by the time Artaud arrived in 1921, assumed the general form of an obedient group of spectators sitting silently in a darkened auditorium. The dynamic, noisy, and engaged audiences of centuries’ worth of theatrical performances had metamorphosed...
Chapter 4 : Theaters for the Masses
Artaud conceived of his theatrical project in the aftermath of World War I, when feelings of alienation and a deep yearning to belong to something larger than the self organized the social and aesthetic dimensions of much of European mass culture. The change in the relationship between the individual and the community was heralded as both alienating and empowering...
Chapter 5 : Crowds and Cruelty
Stephen Koch argued persuasively in 1966 that Artaud’s theater is non-dialogic, that it proposes a one-way communication between the controller of the event and its participants. As opposed to Jarry’s theater, which launched its assault with the goal of engaging the audience member’s own capacity for action...
Chapter 6 : The Artist of the Theater
“In my view,” Artaud writes, “no one has the right to call himself author, that is to say creator, except the person who controls the direct handling of the stage” (TD, 117). “Director”—or metteur en scène—is the primary theatrical term in which we should think of Artaud...
Chapter 7 : Controlling Forces
Michel Foucault invokes Artaud in Madness and Civilization as a visionary artist whose “courage” in the face of his “ordeal,” as Foucault frames it, represents a personal and poetic protest against the absence of a coherent reality and the inability to create. Coming as it does near the end of his study of the institutionalization of the insane
Conclusion : Longing for Nothingness
If World War I had shattered many Europeans’ belief in the promise of their civilization, Artaud responded by continuing to attack those beliefs, as if to prove, over and over, that the worst fears about our civilization were correct. His theater aimed for a revolution based on pulling down structures...