Alfred Jarry’s character of Père Ubu and his self-proclaimed mastery of `pataphysics, the proto-Surrealist “science of exceptions,” furnishes contemporary theatre-makers with a critical funhouse reflection of the real-world state’s abuse of its assumed sovereign right to invoke a state of exception. Moreover, contemporary adaptations of the Ubu character explicitly identify Ubu-esque brutality and anti-reason as the “exception” that makes “enlightened” Western liberal rule possible. Looking at Jarry’s own writing and contemporary postcolonial adaptations of the Ubu plays by Handspring Puppet Company and Wole Soyinka, this article looks at how the Ubu figure has been employed as a representation of “rational” political powers’ creation of the kinds of anomic spaces that Achille Mbembe has described as “death-worlds.” Along the way, it also points out the historical erasures and false forms of closure that can be enabled by how periods of war, peace, and emergency are conventionally narrativized.
Youker, Timothy E.
"War and Peace and Ubu: Colonialism, the Exception, and Jarry's Legacy,"
Criticism: Vol. 57:
4, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/criticism/vol57/iss4/3