The ‘Pataphysical and Surrealist Collection

In 1974 The University of Tulsa acquired the ‘Pataphysical and Surrealist collection of Simon Watson Taylor. An editor, anthologist, translator, and authority on the avant-garde in modern French literature, Taylor was a distinguished member of the College de ‘Pataphysique founded in 1949. Taylor’s extensive collection of publications, documents, and memorabilia emanating from the College is supplemented by his working library of texts by and about Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), a French playwright and artist. Moreover, the collection includes books and documents by and about Andie Breton and the surrealists, books about or containing work by Jacques Herold together with his original etchings, and books and other material by and about Marcel Duchamp.

The aim of the College de ‘Pataphysique, which is still in existence today, is to promulgate the works and spirit of Alfred Jarry, who founded the science of ‘Pataphysics, which is best defined as the science of imaginary solutions that lie beyond the realm of metaphysics. ‘Pataphysics, a pseudoscience, was Jarry’s parodic response to the rise of theory and modern science, both of which were explained using dense and seemingly incomprehensible language.

In a 1960 issue of the Evergreen Review (v. 4, no. 13), ‘Pataphysics is described as “the science of the particular, despite the common opinion that the only science is that of the general. ‘Pataphysics will examine the laws which govern exceptions, and will explain the universe supplementary to this one; or, less ambitiously, will describe a universe which can be—and perhaps should be—envisaged in the place of the traditional one, since the laws which are supposed to have been discovered in the traditional universe are also correlations of exceptions.”

This entire issue of Evergreen is dedicated to the understanding and exploration of ‘Pataphysics.

–From A Guide to Literary and Related Materials


This entry was posted in Collections, General, Guide to Literary and Related Materials and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The ‘Pataphysical and Surrealist Collection

  1. Alastair Brotchie says:

    Dear whomever, Re the Simon Watson Taylor papers at Tulsa. I was a friend of Simon’s and now edit the journal of the London Institute of Pataphysics (and am also a regent of the Collège de ’Pataphysique). I wonder if there is a catalog of the collection you hold? I am interested in two areas especially:

    Papers relating to the English Surrealist group and its meetings.
    Letters to SWT from Sandomir, Sainmont, Latis or Lié (relating to the Collège).

    I have tried searching the online catalog but this only seems to list printed publications.

    It may interest you that the person in the photo on his membership card above is not SWT but Conroy Maddox …

    Hope you can help…

    Yours, Alastair Brotchie

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *