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Antonin Artaud’s novelised biography of the 3rd-century Roman Emperor Heliogabalus is simultaneously his most accessible and his most extreme book. Written in 1933, at the time when Artaud was preparing to stage his legendary Theatre of Cruelty, HELIOGABALUS is a powerful concoction of sexual excess, self-deification and terminal violence. Reflecting its author’s preoccupations of the time with the occult, magic, Satan, and a range of esoteric religions, the book shows Artaud at his most lucid as he assembles an entire world-view from raw material of insanity, sexual obsession and anger. Artaud arranges his account of Heliogabalus’s reign around the breaking of corporeal borders and the expulsion of body fluids, often inventing incidents from the Emperor’s life in order to make more explicit his own passionate denunciations of modern existence. No reader of this, Artaud’s most inflammatory work – translated into English here for the very first time – will emerge unscathed from the experience. Translated by Alexis Lykiard and with an introduction by Stephen Barber (author and cultural historian).
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About the Author
Antonin Artaud was a French dramatist, poet, essayist, actor, and theatre director, widely recognized as one of the major figures of twentieth-century theatre, literature and the European avant-garde. He is best known for conceptualizing the Theatre of Cruelty.