Île du Diable

Jarry’s most overt political commentary surfaces in the Ubu almanacs. The play Île du Diable (Devil’s Island), included in the first almanac, dramatizes events related to the Dreyfus affair. Ubu is cast as an effigy of the corrupt French military. The character would stand in as a proxy for France itself in the second almanac’s Ubu colonial, which comprises an account of Ubu’s visit to Africa. Jarry’s satire of the attitudes informing colonial practices was always indiscriminate, ridiculing both the perpetrators and victims of colonialism—an ambivalence affirmed by Bonnard’s offensive caricatures.

Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), Almanach du Père Ubu illustré. Illustrations by Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947) (Paris: s.n., [1898]). The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Robert J. and Linda Klieger Stillman, 2017. PML 197025.