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The true story of Jesus-Christ: Three Notebooks from Ivry (August 1947)

by Antonin Artaud


Translated by Peter Valente


In these three notebooks, translated for the first time, entitled 'The True Story of Jesus-Christ', Artaud will rage against the idea of the false Christ, and with considerable humor, create an alternative history of the crucifixion, that which he suffered at Rodez, because of his total rejection of all authority.

Artaud is both a martyr and a furious christ who does not believe in God; he is a body without organs, born of himself, not “begotten” of nothingness. Artaud imagines himself as this furious christ, who underwent multiple electroshocks, suffered daily abuses, starvation, and terror. Artaud suffered not as the Christ in the scriptures, which to him is a false story, but as an actual martyr on the cross, “on a poorly hewn tree trunk crossed with a plank to suspend me there with nails, and whose body when I was dead was thrown into a heap of manure.”

Edited, translated and with an Introduction by Peter Valente, The True Story of Jesus-Christ shows Artaud’s complicated obsession with Jesus Christ and his refusal to accept common belief systems. For Artaud, the story of his crucifixion at Rodez was silenced; he is now the furious christ, without organs, the one who actually suffered and who, with his daughters of the heart yet born, will revenge himself on the world.

The True Story of Jesus-Christ

  • Out 4 March 2023

    Hardbound, 172  pages

    190 x 148mm

    ISBN 978-1-8382803-9-0

  • Antonin Artaud's work has a world-renowned status for experimentation across performance, film, sound, poetry and visual art. In the 1920s, he was a member of the Surrealist movement until his expulsion, and formulated theoretical plans across the first half of the 1930s for his 'Theatre of Cruelty' and attempted to carry them through. He made a living as a film actor from 1924 to 1935 and made many attempts to direct his own film projects. In 1936, he travelled to Mexico with a plan to take peyote in the Tarahumara lands. In 1937, preoccupied with the imminent apocalypse, he travelled to Ireland but was deported, beginning a nine-year asylum incarceration during which he continued to write and also made many drawings. After his release in 1946, he lived in the grounds of a sanatorium in Ivry-sur-Seine, close to Paris, and worked intensively on drawings, writings and sound-recordings. He died on 4 March 1948. His drawings have been exhibited on several occasions, notably at the Museum of Modern Art in Vienna in 2002 and at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 2006.

    Peter Valente is a writer, translator, and filmmaker. He is the author of twelve full length books. His most recent books are a collection of essays on several of Werner Schroeter’s films, A Credible Utopia (Punctum, 2022) and his translation of Gérard de Nerval, The Illuminated (Wakefield Press, 2022). Forthcoming is his translation of Nicolas Pages by Guillaume Dustan (Semiotext(e), 2024). He has shown twenty-four of his short experimental films at Anthology Film Archives.

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