- JARRY, Alfred
- (1873-1907)French writer who carried the fruits of his scientific education into his surreal avant-garde writing, particularly the influence of the French evolutionary philosopher Henri Bergson (1859-1941). AJ's famous play Ubu roi (1896; trans 1951 UK) and its several sequels - including Ubu enchaine (1900; trans B. Keith and G. Legman as King Turd 1953 UK) - helped found the THEATRE of the absurd, and he created themock-science of 'pataphysics (IMAGINARY SCIENCE), which studies exceptions rather than laws and aspires to provide imaginary solutions to practical problems. H.G. WELLS's THE TIME MACHINE (1895) inspired him to write the speculative essay "How to Construct a Time Machine" (1899) (TIME TRAVEL). His most sciencefictional work is Le surmale (1901; transBarbara Wright as The Supermale 1964 UK; rev 1968), a comic fantasy featuring a SUPERMAN who, nourished on superfood, wins an extraordinary bicycle race against a six-man team and performs astonishing feats of erotic endurance before perishing in the passionate embrace of an amorous MACHINE. Also of interest is the disorganized and extravagant"neoscientific romance" Gestes et opinions du docteur Faustroll, 'Pataphysician (1911; trans as "Exploits and Opinions of Dr Faustroll, 'Pataphysician" in Selected Works of Alfred Jarry ed Roger Shattuck and Simon Watson-Taylor, coll 1965 UK). There are minor fantastic elements in his hallucinatory first novel, Les jours et les nuits (1897; trans Alexis Lykiard as Days and Nights 1989 in an edition which also includes themythological extravaganza L'autre Alceste (1947 chap) trans Simon Watson-Taylor as "The Other Alcestis") and in his bawdy historical romance Messaline (1901; trans John Harman as Messalina 1985 UK). AJ's influence on modern sf writers (ABSURDIST SF; FABULATION) is best exemplified by J. G. BALLARD's "The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Considered as aDownhill Motor Race" (1967), which echoes AJ's "Commentair pour servir a la construction pratique de la machine a explorer le temps" (1900), most familiar in trans as "The Crucifixion of Christ Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race" (1965).BSOther works: Caesar-Antichrist (1895; trans Antony Melville as Caesar Antichrist 1992 UK).
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.