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Antonin Artaud’s Alternate Genealogies - Self-Portraits and Family Romances

Antonin Artaud’s Alternate Genealogies

Self-Portraits and Family Romances

By John C. Stout
Subjects Literary Criticism, Biography & Autobiography
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Paperback : 9780889202498, 144 pages, March 1996

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
Antonin Artaud’s Alternate Genealogies: Self-Portraits and Family Romances by John C. Scott




Artaud’s Textual Alter Egos: Some Preliminary Facts

Family Romances: Le Moine, Héliogabale, Les Cenci

The Portrait

A Note on Theatre


One: “Mon ami, ma chimère. ..”: Early Prose Poems on Uccello and Abélard

Vasari’s Biographical Sketch of Uccello

Marcel Schwob’s “Paolo Uccello, peintre”

“Paul les Oiseaux, ou la place de l’amour”

“Uccello le poil”

“Héloïse et Abélard”

“Le clair Abélard”


Two: Beneath the Monk’s Cowl/Sous l’habit du moine: On Artaud’s “Copy” of M. G. Lewis’ The Monk


Three: Modernist Family Romance: The Rhetoric of Héliogabale

Repetition and Family Romance

History: The Matriarchal Era Revisited, The Historian’s Tale Revised

The Language of the Origin: Rhetoric and Structure of Héliogabale


Four: The Drama of Desire against Itself: Les Cenci

Dramas Affiliated to Les Cenci: Seneca, Ford, Van Den Leyden

Three Nineteenth-Century Versions of Les Cenci

Artaud’s Les Cenci: Desire against Itself


Five: Self-Portraits at Rodez and Ivry

The Precursor’s Gaze: Van Gogh, ou le suicidé de la société

Drawings at Rodez and Ivry

Verbal Self-Portraits: “Ci-gît” and “Aratud le Môto”








Most readers know Antonin Artaud as a theorist of the theatre and as a playwright, director and actor manqué. Now, John C. Stout’s highly original study installs Artaud as a writer and theorist of biography.

In Alternate Genealogies Stout analyzes two separate but interrelated preoccupations central to Artaud’s work: the self-portrait and the family romance. He shows how Artaud, in several important but relatively neglected texts, rewrites the life stories of historical and literary figures with whom he identifies (for example, Paolo Ucello, Abelard, Van Gogh and Shelley’s Francesco Cenci) in an attempt to reinvent himself through the image, or life, of another. Throughout the book Stout focusses on Artaud’s struggles to recover the sense of self that eludes him and to master the reproductive process by recreating the family in — and as — his own fantasies of it. With this research John C. Stout has added considerably to our understanding of Artaud.

His book will be much appreciated by theatre scholars, Artaud specialists, Freudians, Lacanians and both theorists and practitioners of life writing.