50 Drawings to Murder Magic (The French List)

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9780857423504: 50 Drawings to Murder Magic (The French List)
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A poet, philosopher, essayist, playwright, actor, and director, Antonin Artaud was a visionary writer and a major influence within and beyond the French avant-garde. A key text for understanding his thought and his appeal, 50 Drawings to Murder Magic is rooted in the nine years Artaud spent in mental asylums, struggling with schizophrenia and the demonic, persecutory visions it unleashed. Set down in a dozen exercise books written between 1946 and 1948, these pieces trace Artaud’s struggle to escape a personal hell that extends far beyond the walls of asylums and the dark magicians he believed ran them.

The first eleven notebooks are filled with fragments of writing and extraordinary sketches: totemic figures, pierced bodies, and enigmatic machines, some revealing the marks of a trembling hand, others carefully built up from firm, forceful pencil strokes. The twelfth notebook, completed two months before Artaud’s death in 1948, changes course: it’s an extraordinary text on the loss of magic to the demonic—the piece that gives the book its title.

“Artaud matters,” wrote John Simon in the Saturday Review years ago. Nearly seventy years after his death, that remains true—perhaps more than ever.

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For the poet, theorist, philosopher, playwright, actor, and director, Antonin Artaud, magic was always a central concept and positive force, capable of healing the rift between words and things, culture and life. But during his nine years of incarceration in mental asylums, magic seemed to lose its illuminating transformative power and to become demonic and persecutory. Artaud entered the realm of spectres and vampires which he believed were sucking the vitality from his mind and body. Artaud later filled twelve little exercise books with an account of his struggles to escape this physical, psychological and artistic hell. The first eleven books are filled with fragments of writing and extraordinary sketches of totemic figures, pierced bodies and enigmatic machines. Two months before his death, he took a twelfth exercise book and wrote a remarkable, incantatory text, 50 Drawings to Murder Magic. It was the last thing he wrote.

About the Author:

Antonin Artaud (1895–1948) was the author of many books, most famously of The Theater and Its Double. Donald Nicholson-Smith is an English-born translator who lives in New York City. É?velyne Grossman is a literary critic, editor, and professor of French literature. She has edited several volumes of Antonin Artaud’s works in French.?

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