Devoured by his physics teacher May 5, 2013 6:55:02 GMT -5
Post by Deleted on May 5, 2013 6:55:02 GMT -5
Alfred Jarry began by teasing his physics teacher in Rennes. Ubu began there as "a worthless skit written by schoolchildren." Père Ubu is shocking and monstrous, and cut through the theatrical conventions of the time precisely because he was the invention of an army of school-boy satirists. In his physics lessons, Jarry would put insidious and bizarre questions to his teacher, who crumbled under pressure. The other boys regarded Jarry as a hero, although some felt disquiet at the ferocity of his sarcasm. He seemed incapable of reining in his anger [should that read "humour"?], almost possessed, and it was felt that he always went a bit "too far." No real explanation is forthcoming as to why Jarry should have been such a supercharged child. As M. Brotchie his biographer puts it, "the physics teacher personified a dangerous type that Jarry wholly rejected: the bourgeois nationalist, submissive to and unquestioning of authority. Jarry's later refinement of the character of Ubu was a highly charged political statement." Oscar Wilde called him "a most extraordinary young man." A puzzled W.B. Yeats observed that in the play Ubu Roi "the chief personage, who is some kind of king, carries for sceptre a brush of the kind that we use to clean a closet." Yeats joined those shouting in favour of the play, but back in his hotel room he had second thoughts and made his famous pronouncement "After us the Savage God." As M. Brotchie wryly observes, "One of the undoubted achievements of Ubu Roi was that it upset almost everyone who saw it." We are invited to laugh, provided we accept that the joke is on us. In public, Jarry played along with expectations that he should be Ubuesque, and his "Ubu-speak" became habitual. One acquaintance went so far as to say that Jarry had been "devoured by Ubu."