23 October 2015

Paris 2015: Cimetière parisien de Bagneux #2: Alfred Jarry

The unnamed grave of Alfred Jarry (1873–1907) is fittingly bizarre. Jarry had a huge influence on a large number of people and literary or artistic movements, such as those involved in the Theatre of the Absurd, surrealism, dada, and Oulipo (particularly with his 'Pataphysics). In short, he was far before his time, and as such he had the power to shock, as in his very strange and most famous work – the play Ubu Roi (1896) – in which the first word is the euphemistic 'Merdre' (for 'Merde'), which is so conveniently translatable into English as 'Shirt' (for 'Shit'). Jarry is also well known for his bicycle, his revolver, drinking absinthe to excess, and for his last wish on his deathbed at the age of thirty-four: a toothpick.

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