09 April 2007

Alfred Jarry, born 100 years and three weeks before me.

I was forwarded a link to this article the other day, which made my night. (Thank you, Robert!) I can't quite tell if it's fact or fiction, but it is by a guy named Jim McGurn, about the french writer Alfred Jarry and his Fascinating relationship with bicycles.
Favourite passages include the following:
Jarry soon became notorious. He took, for example, to riding around Paris with two revolvers tucked in his belt and a carbine across his shoulder. Some say that Jarry fired off a revolver to warn people of his approach. But it is known for certain that at one point he fixed a large bell from a tramcar onto his bicycle. All the same, Jarry was an athletic, no-nonsense cyclist and enjoyed tearing around the countryside. He criticised those who "thinking themselves poets, slow down en route to contemplate the view".

that's right, all you poets. (insert devious chuckle here.)

In 1897 Jarry and his bicycle moved into some most unusual lodgings. The landlord, feeling that high ceilings were a waste of lettable space, had put in extra floors, dividing each existing floor into two. Being only 5 foot tall Jarry did not scrape his head on the ceiling, unless, perhaps, he had swapped his flat cycling shoes for the ladies' style high-heeled boots which he sometimes wore. Here he lived with his scaled-down furniture, his mountains of books, his owls and his chameleons. A visiting friend remarked on the bicycle which Jarry kept near his bed. "I use it for getting around the room," said Jarry, and he promptly leaped on the saddle and gave a skilled demonstration.

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