Monsieur Vénus

Jarry often wrote about himself as Père Ubu in letters to the author Rachilde. Born Marguerite Eymery, Rachilde assumed her androgynous pseudonym in the 1880s, regretting, she later wrote, that she had not been born male. Dressing at times in masculine attire, she disparaged female authors and resented being associated with them—her early cartes de visite identify her as an homme de lettres. Rachilde achieved renown for her sexually transgressive novels while Jarry was still in high school. At their first meeting, Jarry told her he was disappointed to discover that the author of Monsieur Vénus was a woman. She would become one of Jarry’s closest friends. Nonconformists in different ways, they shared two essential beliefs— that art is the only ethos, and that the individual is all.

Rachilde (1860–1953), Monsieur Vénus (Paris: Librairie française, L. Genonceaux & cie, 1902). The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, Purchased on The Gordon N. Ray Fund, 2019. PML 198187.