The work of director, playwright, essayist, and poet Antonin Artaud has had a lasting influence, particularly among theater scholars, who consider his 1938 book Le Theatre et son double (The Theater and Its Double) a classic text of the avant-garde. Both his writings and his tragic, tortured life have contributed to his veneration. Artaud and His Doubles challenges the Artaud legend by reexamining his works in the context of European political, theatrical, and intellectual history of the early 20th century. Placing both Artaud's rhetoric and his work as a theater director in the contexts of World War I, theater and intellectual history, crowd theory, and the rise of fascism, Artaud and His Doubles argues that Artaud's work reveals affinities not primarily with artists concerned with activating individual potential or advancing progressive politics---with whom he is usually associated---but with a disturbing array of anti-intellectual and reactionary writers and artists whose ranks swelled catastrophically between the wars in Western Europe. Artaud's work itself has two sets of doubles: one, a body of peculiarly persistent received interpretations from the American experimental theater and French poststructuralist readings of the 1960s, and, two, a darker set of doubles that this book's historical examination brings to light---those of his contemporaries who, in the tumultuous, alienated, and pessimistic atmosphere enveloping much of Europe after World War I, denounced the degradation of civilization, yearned for cosmic purification, and called for an ecstatic loss of the self. This book represents a radical re-thinking of one of the most canonized figures in theater history, theory, and practice---a re-thinking that will generate provocative new discussions about Artaud and fundamentally challenge the way we look at his work and ideas.
Publisher: The University of Michigan Press
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 544 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 28 mm