From Book 3: Smuggling Artaud

            The Sainte-Anne hospital was a walled compound like a mini-medieval city. It stood not far from the studios of René Thomas and Sonia Mossé. Desnos told us about it after we met. Sainte-Anne had been constructed in the thirteenth century and was named after, of all people, the patron saint Anne of Austria, thatContinue reading “From Book 3: Smuggling Artaud”

From Book 2: I Love You, Part One

            The great Desnos, scrawler of surreal graffiti. One thing for sure, that man was drinking too much lately. It worried me. When he drank his mood-swings became even worse. He would stay drunk for days. Yvonne George, herself drowning in the laudanum bottle, was now ignoring him completely while Breton yelled in the man’sContinue reading “From Book 2: I Love You, Part One”

From Book 4: The Prisoner

            In early 1938, at the urging of Artaud’s family and with the intercession of Jean Paulhan, Antonin Artaud was finally transferred from the Quatre-Mares asylum at Rouen to Sainte-Anne, an asylum south of Montparnasse, that mini-walled city near the studios of Sonia Mossé and René Thomas. First Artaud’s mother, now almost seventy years old,Continue reading “From Book 4: The Prisoner”

From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part Two

           This section is presented in its entirety. “I don’t know where my story begins,” I said. “And I wonder if that’s not a lie too, that any story has a beginning. Life just happens and we pick a point and say, ‘It started here,’ when it didn’t really start there, even with one’s birth.”            Continue reading “From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part Two”

From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part One

Desnos never locked his door and now this worried me. When I stepped inside I saw a lit candle in a far corner. Artaud lay there on a mattress, and someone lay next to him. Desnos was asleep on his sofa and Roger and Justine lay tangled on his regular mattress, but everyone else hadContinue reading “From Book 2: The Sex Discussions, Part One”

From Book 2: Foujita and Youki

“Come on, Geoff,” Youki urged, tugging at my arm. I allowed her to lead me to the car. “Come see the studio.”             I climbed in the back seat of her yellow Ballot with Foujita and Bernice, and the chauffeur nodded to Youki while she sat in the front passenger seat arranging her hair. “Home,Continue reading “From Book 2: Foujita and Youki”

From Book 2: Napoléon

            The role of Roderick Usher went to another actor, but Jean-Paul Marat in Gance’s film Napoléon belonged to Antonin Artaud. We attended the premier held at the Paris Opera. Napoléon Vu par Abel Gance, originally intended as a six-film series, was now a four-hour epic film promised to be on par with D.W. Griffith’sContinue reading “From Book 2: Napoléon”

From Book 3: Mexico and Trotsky

Days later, when I again visited the studio, Artaud had the gall to tease Sonia and me in front of Anita about knowing how to show an attractive young lady a good time on her first visit to Paris. When Anita in her effervescent voice demanded the details, Sonia threw a bottle of ink atContinue reading “From Book 3: Mexico and Trotsky”

From Book 2: Escaping the Police

            Hands tore at me and I threw my fists out blindly, making contact with eyes and cheeks. The air cleared and I crawled onstage. Now Breton was nowhere to be seen. I hauled Desnos up by the arm. Holding his handkerchief against the flow of blood, Desnos stumbled in the direction I shoved himContinue reading “From Book 2: Escaping the Police”

From Book 2: Saint-Pol-Roux’s Banquet

            One evening, while Catherine sat with Suzanne in the dining room planning a supper for our father’s birthday, Franz on the sofa sheepishly unfolded a few old newspaper articles he’d saved. “This should interest you,” he whispered. “Surrealism’s biggest public scandal.” We sat quietly together to read them. The event was an honorary banquetContinue reading “From Book 2: Saint-Pol-Roux’s Banquet”