|Heliogabalus Antonin Artaud
Creation Books 2003
ISBN 1-84068 100-4
"The world must be destroyed" -Antonin Artaud, 1933
Antonin Artaud's novelised biography of the third-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 Artaud's most inflammatory work - translated into English here for the very first time - will emerge unscathed from the experience.
Translated by Alexis Lykiard (acclaimed translator of Lautréamont's Maldoror and with an introduction by Stephen Barber (author, Artaud: The Screaming Body and Artaud: Blows and Bombs).