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Chasing Black Rainbows: A Novel About Antonin Artaud Hardcover – November 1, 1995

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having recreated in novels the lives of the Marquis de Sade (When the Whip Comes Down) and Lautreamont (Isidore), Reed here achieves a remarkable feat of imaginative empathy while exploring the mind of French avant-garde poet and playwright Antonin Artaud (1896-1948). A tormented, emaciated, raving paranoid and diagnosed schizophrenic, Artaud emerges here also as an anarchic visionary who subverts bourgeois values through the power of his imagination. Confined to the Rodez asylum in 1943 in Nazi-occupied southwestern France (one in a series of mental institutions where, cumulatively, he would spend nine years), Artaud defends his madness as a mode of knowing, ``a constant way of presenting the interior.'' But chief psychiatrist Dr. Gaston Ferdiere, himself an anarchist thinker, erotic poet and proponent of surrealism, considers Artaud an incurable victim of neurochemical imbalance and administers electroshock therapy, despite Artaud's desperate protests. In addition to Artaud's and Ferdiere's alternating voices, the narrative includes those of Artaud's former lover, Anais Nin, expatriate writer Henry Miller and Miller's estranged wife, June. There are flashbacks to Artaud's expulsion from Andre Breton's 1920s surrealist circle and his peyote-tinted travels among Mexico's Tarahumara Indians. Reed extends his exploration of sexuality not only through his presentation of the Henry, June and Anais triangle but also through his portrayal of Denise, another patient, who inspires erotic fantasies in Dr. Ferdiere while he treats her for insanity resulting from incest with her father. Reed clearly idolizes his suffering subject, and he revels somewhat romantically in the idea of subversion. Happily, he is attuned to the interiority proclaimed by his Artaud, allowing him to create a hypnotic exploration of madness and genius that articulates uncanny psychological insights through the use of often astonishing imagery.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

Here Jeremy Reed embodies the drug-ravaged persona of Antonin Artaud, incarcerated in the asylum of Rodez under the care of Dr Gaston Ferdiere, to project a novel of uncompromising poetic vision. Integrated into Artaud's quest for the visionary cosmos are vignettes of subtly delineated eroticism: the lesbian relationship in Paris between Anais Nin and June Miller (wife of Henry); the incestuous affair of Denise, a patient at Rodez, with her father; not to mention Dr Ferdiere's own sensual fantasies.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Peter Owen Ltd; First Edition edition (November 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0720609240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0720609240
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.3 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,062,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By J from NY VINE VOICE on November 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
why don't more people know about jeremy reed? the more i read his fiction and his poetry the more i want. if you've never been fortunate enough to encounter his work before, this is the place to start. he creates a vivid (if not realistic or necessarily true to 'reality')artaud for his novel and shows a great deal of sympathy for his alienated suffering and painful bouts of total isolation and madness. the ending is particularly beautiful and awe inspiring, wherein artaud finally realizes the dream of all imaginative poets, writers and just creative people in general--an actual plunge into the world of the imagination. of course none of it is really realistic, but curiously enough i take reed very seriously. he is not a man filled with wishful thinking or a desire to spread his longing for poetic and artistic escapism, but a man with such a luminous and stunning inner vision that he can do nothing else than write beautiful and absolutely unforgettable works of the most intense aesthetic vitality and vividness. reed portrays artaud brilliantly as a warrior of the poetic imagination and an avowed enemy of a society that represses the surreal and the creative. "madness is the pejorative term that capitalism applies to vision", he says at one point. the critics, pretentious morons that they are, dismiss reed because they see him as too 'derivative'. if jeremy reed is derivative, i for my part can only hope that more modern writers and poets will follow his lead and become derivative, if it produces works of aesthetic genius like this one. anyone who enjoys surrealist poetry and literature (or 'anti literature' as they so aptly called it) or is interested in the history or relationships within the group, buy this book the next chance you get.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Often I wondered whether madness is just sanity not yet baptised in the virgin waterfalls of reason. Reading this book confirmed that belief. The unfathomable power of the Dionysian Hero who sacrifices his sanity and carries the burden of the entire "civilised" world to push the definition of whats "acceptable" and "sane" - that very quality shines out in the hallucinatory, rat-eating madness of Antonin Artuad. Our hero gives us hope and a dream - a dream of a better tomorrow. The book also confirmed some of my other beliefs such as the ones held by Aldous Huxley on the relationship of certain exhibit A chemical "drugs" and creativity. Apart from the fact that the entire book is like one long, beautiful poem and the poetic imagery that it arouses shoots up the spine and flashes in the brain, it challenges the hypocrisy of the society and erects crystal pyramids for the martyrs, who sacrificed their sanity back in th 60s. A "doors of perception" cleansing book!
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