Today, 4th March 2018, marks the 70th anniversary of Antonin Artaud’s death, which means that the copyrights to his literary estate have been lifted.
Infinity Land Press is hereby proud to announce a release of Artaud 1937 Apocalypse - Letters from Ireland by Antonin Artaud, the first English translation for more than fifteen years. The book was translated and edited by Artaud's biographer, Stephen Barber.
Antonin Artaud's 1937 apocalyptic journey to Ireland and his writings from that journey form an extraordinary moment of accumulating disintegration and tenacious creativity in his work. After publishing a manifesto prophecy about the catastrophic immediate-future entitled The New Revelations of Being, Artaud abruptly left Paris and travelled to Ireland, remaining there for six weeks and existing without money, travelling first to the isolated island of Inishmore off Ireland's western coast, then to Galway, and finally to Dublin, where he was arrested as an undesirable alien, beaten by the police, and summarily deported back to France. On his return, he spent nine years in lunatic asylums, including the entire span of the Second World War. During that journey to Ireland - on which he accumulated signs of his forthcoming apocalypse, and planned his own role in it as 'THE REVEALED ONE' - Artaud wrote letters to friends in Paris and also created several magic spells, intended to curse his enemies and to protect his friends from Paris's forthcoming incineration and the Antichrist's appearance at the Deux Magots cafe. To André Breton, he wrote: 'It's the Unbelievable - yes, the Unbelievable - it's the Unbelievable which is the truth.' Many of his writings from Ireland were lost, and this book collects all of his surviving letters, drawn together from archives and private collections, together with photographs of the locations he travelled through. This edition, with an afterword and notes by the book's translator/editor, Stephen Barber, marks the seventieth anniversary of Artaud's death.
Artaud 1937 Apocalypse
Letters from Ireland by Antonin Artaud
Translated and edited by Stephen Barber
Photographs by Karolina Urbaniak
Artworks by Martin Bladh
Release date 31st May 2018
Available for pre-orders at special price here
The official book launch for Artaud 1937 Apocalypse will take place at the Whitechapel Gallery on the 31st of May at 7pm. This event will include a reading from the book by the translator Stephen Barber and a screening of Gérard Mordillat’s film My Life and Times with Antonin Artaud from 1993.
Ticket costs £8.
Voice Christophe Delesques
Production Karolina Urbaniak
The New Revelations of Being [Preface]
I say what I have seen and what I believe; and whoever says I have not seen what I have seen, I will now tear off their head.
Because I am Brute who cannot be forgiven, and it will be that way until Time is no longer Time.
Neither Heaven nor Hell, if they exist, can combat that brutality that they forced onto me, perhaps in order that I would serve them… Who knows?
In any case, so I would tear myself away from them.
It is a true Desperate One who is speaking to you and who knows the happiness of being in the world only now that he has left the world behind, now that he has become absolutely separated from it.
The Dead - the others are not separated. They are still turning around their own dead bodies.
I am not dead, but I am separated.
I will therefore say what I have seen and what is…
Inishmore, Aran Islands in Galway Bay, Ireland
To André Breton, 5 September 1937 (Letter with an accompanying Magic Spell, sent from Galway):
I am entrusting to you a Magic Spell that I'm sending to Madame X. If she sees my handwriting, she may well not open the envelope. So write the address in a style that doesn't look like mine. And do send it to her, I beg of you.
You are going to see, once you have examined the Magic Spell, that things are about to become serious and that this time, I'm going to the very end of everything.
Madame X.'s grave responsibility lies in having said that there are no more Gods. That's the reason for my hatred of her.
Because there are still Gods, even though God no longer exists. And ranged above gods there is the unconscious, criminal law of Nature, and the gods and Us - that is, We the Gods - are collectively victims of that law.
Paganism had everything right, but Men - who are always utter bastards - betrayed the Pagan Truth. So christ has returned in order to illuminate the Pagan Truth, which all the various christian Churches have been shitting on in an ignominious way. This christ I'm talking about was a Magician who fought with Demons in the desert, using a cane as his weapon. And a trace of his blood remained imprinted on that cane. That trace disappears when you wipe it away with water, but then it comes back.
Artwork including one of Artaud's letters with magic spell
To Anne Manson, 5 or 6 September 1937 (Letter written in Galway but then torn into four pieces - only two of which were written upon - and not sent):
It's certain that in Paris, there's an intention to get me arrested.
You mustn't worry about this.
A rich woman - whom I had charitably warned to leave behind her involvement with communism since otherwise she would herself have to take the blame for risking being caught up in the coming massacre of an insurrection of the forces of the left - replied to me that she would have me burned as a sorcerer. And that I was a wretchedly bad actor. She told me, moreover, that she wanted to eat alive all those who still speak of God. I then replied in specifying to her the torture that would be imposed upon her for her revolt - the torture that would take place after the massacre which she herself is instigating - and I told her that, in accordance with the Justice of God - I would then perform some bad acting over her dead body on that day.
Inishmore, Aran Islands in Galway Bay, Ireland
To Anne Manson, 13 September 1937 (Letter, partly lost, sent from Dublin):
It's not a force of hatred that christ wants to extend over the world's surface, but a colossal force of love. This force will direct itself to the hearts of human beings and instruct them about the void of life and what is sublime about the disappearance of forms. Mankind will resist christ and will want to kill the man who is the representative of this force. As a result, this force will manifest itself in all of its force, and in its cruelty, but solely in order to have done with that resistance of mankind. Because cruelty is not some kind of luxury, Anne - so don't be stupid and sentimental at the same time as you are sublime. To be cruel, you have to have become illuminated. That's the truth. I'm warning you: Just don't play games with me. Cruelty is not some kind of game, and I do not love it. But I will impose cruelty when I have to.
Inishmore, Aran Islands in Galway Bay, Ireland
To Anne Manson, around 17 September 1937 (Letter, partly lost, sent from Dublin):
Get going to the Deux Magots, Woman, betray me. Tell them there that I'm in Dublin so that they can come and capture me.
But warn them too that they are going to get what is coming to them. And it will be unstoppable and WITHOUT Mercy.
Just tell them that I shit on the republic, on democracy, on socialism, on communism, on Marxism, on idealism, on materialism - whether it's dialectical materialism or not, because I shit on dialectics too, and I'm going to give you further proof of that.
I shit on the Popular Front and I shit on the Government of the Popular Alliance, I shit on the International Workingmen's Association, in its 1st, 2nd and 3rd variants, but I also shit on the idea of a National Homeland, I shit on France and on every last one of the French - with the exception of those to whom I've personally issued warnings from here in Ireland and those with whom I'm in correspondence.
The French - whether they believe themselves to be on the Right or on the Left - are all a bunch of cunts who want to own things, and in that stinking café to which I'm now sending you - where they all exhausted and exasperated me with their quarrels and their little self-interests - I never saw anyone except people who wanted to own things, people stuck in one place, stuck, petrified to the point of blindness by existence, and every one of them has spread their darkness over Existence. To the point of being driven crazy, I have had ENOUGH of them.
About the author
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.
About the editor
Stephen Barber’s books have been acclaimed as ‘brilliant, profound and provocative’ by The Times newspaper in the UK, and he has been called ‘a writer of real distinction’ and ‘the most dangerous man in Europe’ by The Independent newspaper. The Sunday Times newspaper hailed his books as ‘exhilarating and disquieting’.
He is the author of many fiction and non-fiction books, including studies of Antonin Artaud, Pierre Guyotat, Jean Genet and Eadweard Muybridge. Among his recent books are England’s Darkness (Sun Vision Press) and Berlin Bodies (Reaktion Books). He has also collaborated on books with the poet Jeremy Reed and the photographer Xavier Ribas. His books have been translated into many languages and have won numerous prizes and awards. He is currently a professor of art and film at the Kingston School of Art, Kingston University, London.
Places related to Artaud's stay in Ireland.