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Antonin Artaud, Stephen Barber (ed.): A Sinister Assassin

Antonin Artaud, Stephen Barber (ed.)

A Sinister Assassin
Last Writings, Ivry-sur-Seine, September 1947–March 1948

Translated by Stephen Barber

Softcover, 120 pages

Date of publication: 01.06.2023

A Sinister Assassin presents translations of Antonin Artaud’s largely unknown final work of 1947–48, revealing new insights into his obsessions with the human anatomy, sexuality, societal power, creativity and ill-will. Artaud’s preoccupations are seminally those of the contemporary world. Those last writings form the most extraordinary element of Artaud’s entire prolific body of work—and is the element now most enduringly inspirational, for artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers, choreographers, and others inspired by Artaud, through their fiercely exploratory, extreme and combative forms.

 

Artaud’s last conception of performance of 1947–48—following his Theatre of Cruelty provocations of the 1930s, and finally incorporated into fragmentary writings and drawings as well as into sonic experimentation in screams and percussion—is that of a dance-propelled act of autopsy, generating the ‘body without organs’ which negates malevolent microbial epidemics. This book assembles Artaud’s crucial writings and press interviews from September 1947 to March 1948, undertaken at a decrepit pavilion in the grounds of a convalescence clinic in Ivry-sur-Seine, on the southern edge of Paris, as well as in-transit through Paris’s streets.

 

Drawing from extensive consultations of Artaud’s manuscripts, and from many original interviews with his friends, collaborators and doctors of the 1940s, this book brings together translations of all of the many manifestations of Artaud’s final writings: the contents of his last, death-interrupted notebook; his letters; his two final key texts; his glossolalia; the magazine issue which collected his last fragments; and the two extraordinary interviews he gave to national newspaper journalists in the final days of his life, in which he denounces and refuses both his work’s recent censorship and his imminent death.

 

Edited, translated and with an Introduction by Stephen Barber, A Sinister Assassin illuminates Artaud’s last, most intensive and terminal work for the first time.

 

  • autobiography
  • poetry
  • literature
  • Modernism
  • avant-garde

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Antonin Artaud

Antonin Artaud

(1896–1948) is one of the seminal figures of twentieth century writing, art and sound experimentation, known especially for his work with the Surrealist movement, his performance theories, his asylum incarcerations, and his artworks which have been exhibited in major exhibitions, at New York’s MOMA and many other art-museums.
Other texts by Antonin Artaud for DIAPHANES

Stephen Barber

is the author of twenty-five books, including seven novels, most recently White Noise Ballrooms and The Projectionists. Eadweard Muybridge and the Future Projections of the Moving Image. He has received several awards for his books, which have been translated into many languages, such as Japanese and Chinese. The Independent newspaper (London) once called him “the most dangerous man in Europe.” He is a professor at the Kingston School of Art, Kingston University, London, and a visiting research fellow at the Free University Berlin and Keio University Tokyo.
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