Alfred Jarry

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Jarry, Alfred

(älfrĕd` zhärē`), 1873–1907, French author. He was well known in Paris for his eccentric and dissolute behavior and for his insistence on the superiority of hallucinations over rational intelligence. His most famous work is the satirical farce Ubu Roi [Ubu the king] (1896, tr. 1961), with a repulsive and cowardly hero based on one of his old schoolteachers. He also wrote surrealistic verse stories, which, although witty, are also blasphemous and scatological. They include Les Minutes de sable mémorial [the moments of a monument in sand] (1894), César-Antéchrist [Caesar-Antichrist] (1895, tr. 1972), L'Amour en visites [love on visits] (1898), L'Amour absolu [absolute love] (1899), and Le Surmale (1902), as well as another play, Ubu enchaîné [Ubu in chains] (1902).


See his Ubu Plays (tr. 1969); biography by A. Brotchie (2011); study by K. Beaumont (1985).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Jarry, Alfred


Born Sept. 8, 1873, in Laval, Mayenne Department; died Nov. 1, 1907, in Paris. French writer.

Jarry became known for his grotesque comic farce Ubu roi (1896). The character of his depraved and ruthless hero, typified in the spirit of guignol traditions, contains a criticism of the bourgeois world. In The Almanacs of Papa Ubu (1899) and the play Ubu Enslaved (1900), Jarry satirically exposed the sociopolitical and moral principles in France of his day. He published the novels Days and Nights (1897) and The Supermale (1902). In The Deeds and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll (1898), Jarry ridiculed the philistine “common sense.” His experimental writings, imbued with the spirit of negation, influenced such writers as Apollinaire, lonesco, A. Adamov, and L. Aragon.


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–8. Paris, 1948.


Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959.
Istoriia frantsuzskoi literatury, vol.4. Moscow, 1963.
Balashov, N. I. “Apolliner i ego mesto vo frantsuzskoi poezii.” In Apolliner, G.: Stikhi. Moscow, 1967.
Lot, F. Alfred Jarry, son oeuvre. Paris, 1934.
Levesque, L-H. Alfred Jarry. [Paris, 1954 and 1967.]
Perche, L. Jarry. Paris, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.