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50 Drawings to Murder Magic (Seagull Books - The French List) Hardcover – February 1, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1905422661 ISBN-10: 1905422660

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Product Details

  • Series: Seagull Books - The French List
  • Hardcover: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Seagull Books (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905422660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905422661
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 0.7 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,252,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

For the poet, theorist, philosopher, playwright, actor, and director, Antonin Artaud, magic was always a central concept and positive force, capable of healing the rift between words and things, culture and life. But during his nine years of incarceration in mental asylums, magic seemed to lose its illuminating transformative power and to become demonic and persecutory. Artaud entered the realm of spectres and vampires which he believed were sucking the vitality from his mind and body. Artaud later filled twelve little exercise books with an account of his struggles to escape this physical, psychological and artistic hell. The first eleven books are filled with fragments of writing and extraordinary sketches of totemic figures, pierced bodies and enigmatic machines. Two months before his death, he took a twelfth exercise book and wrote a remarkable, incantatory text, 50 Drawings to Murder Magic. It was the last thing he wrote.

About the Author

Antonin Artaud (1895–1948) spent most of his life in and out of sanatoriums and asylums. He published his most well-known work 1938, The Theatre and its Double. The book is a series of essays, two of which expand on Artaud’s the Theatre of Cruelty, a major defining philosophy in experimental theatre and performing art. He has influenced the works of a number of performers and producers, from Peter Brook to Spalding Gray to Motley Crue and the band Bauhaus.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. Hori on March 27, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This volume is a moving and challenging compilation of drawings executed (irony intended) between 1946 to 1948 in elementary school exercise books. The selection of drawings was done by Artaud for a publication planned by Loeb Gallery in Paris, and the poet wrote a text (his last) to accompany it. Artaud died before the project could be brought to fruition. The design of this book is wonderful: the cover accurately reproduces the blue of the student notebooks of the time along with its cloyingly sentimental drawing of fields and haystacks, and on the verso tables for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. We also see the smudges, tears, stains that will be mirrored on the yellowing, blue-gridded pages within. What strikes us is the utter poverty of the poet forced to use such humble media for his writings and designs. We witness his meat machine--even then secretly sapped and undermined by cancer--as the vision trembles through the muted explosions of chemical-induced electricity to cause the muscles to expand and contract with varying degrees of delicacy. We see the piercing of the page--stabbed 11--perhaps 12 times--in ecstacy, frustration, or as part of a private "gris-gris" ritual--by the poet, who includes nails, thorns, and other emblems of ritualistic transfixions in his cruel drawings. The drawings themselves give us glimpses of the poet's [...], of his thyroid, of lung-like sacks collapsed upon a scream; of bodies dissected and exploded and simplified to maps of layered graphite, and of electrical armature-like processes connected by sinister, exfoliating wires. There is also a heroic landscape of words written, smeared, struck through, that encase the drawings.

Now I know
the objective plastic power
of the breath

says Antonin Artaud, and in our contemplation--our encounter--with this wonderful volume--we know it too.
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