“The Testament of Père Ubu”

In 1906, Jarry believed he was on the verge of death and wrote a letter to Rachilde that is now referred to as “The Testament of Père Ubu.” Jarry asks her to undertake a “posthumous collaboration” by finishing his novel after he dies. Writing about himself as Ubu in the third person, he concedes the irony that the author of The Supermale is now spent. Ubu’s furnace “is not going to explode, but rather just switch itself off . . . quite calmly, like an exhausted motor.” Jarry compares Ubu’s brain to a “perpetual machine” that will persist and dream without him. “He left such beautiful things on earth,” adds Jarry,“but he is disappearing in such an apotheosis! . . . He has armed himself before Eternity and is not afraid.”

Alfred Jarry (1873–1907), letter to Rachilde, 28 May 1906 (“The Testament of Père Ubu”). The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Robert J. and Linda Klieger Stillman, 2017. MA 9074.