Used in the extreme, “recreational” drugs—absinthe, wine, and ether—were devices Jarry used to supplement his imagination like a form of artificial intelligence. They also sapped his health and finances. After the magazines he depended upon for income folded, Jarry’s reputation as a delinquent in pecuniary matters became more pronounced. This envelope, addressed to Jarry by his wine merchant, contained one of the many outraged, threatening demands for payment overshadowing his final year. Jarry may have been intoxicated when he scrawled an indignant untruth on the back of the same envelope: “I always pay my debts.”
Envelope addressed by Gaston Jobard to Alfred Jarry, stamped 3 October 1907. On verso: Letter from Jarry to Jobard, October 1907. Collection of Christophe Champion, Librairie Faustroll.