Heliogabalus, or the Crowned Anarchist  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Heliogabalus, or the Crowned Anarchist (original French: Héliogabale ou l'Anarchiste couronné) (1934) is a novelized biography of Roman Emperor Heliogabalus by the French surrealist Antonin Artaud, first published by Éditions Denoël.

Translated into English for the first time in 2007, this novelized biography of the 3rd-century Roman Emperor Heliogabalus is said to be Artaud’s most accessible yet most extreme book. Written in 1933, at the time when Artaud was preparing to stage his Theatre of Cruelty, Heliogabalus is a concoction of sexual excess, self-deification and terminal violence. Reflecting its author’s preoccupations with the occult, magic, Satan, and a range of esoteric religions, this account of Heliogabalus’ reign invents incidents in the Emperor’s life in order to make the print of the author’s own passionate denunciations of modern existence.

Stephen Barber said of the book that it "is Artaud’s greatest and most revolutionary masterpiece: an incendiary work that reveals both the divine cruelty of the Roman Emperor and that of Artaud himself."

Valter said of the work it is a "rare pro-Heliogabalus work, in which his decadent quirks are regarded as the mark on an ireverrent libertarian, an anarchist."

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