“Who is that?” asked Bernard.
“What! Don’t you know the author of Ubu Roi?”
“Not possible! That Jarry? I took him for a servant.”
“Oh, all the same,” said Olivier, a little vexed, for he took a pride in his great men. “Look at him more carefully. Don’t you think he’s extraordinary?”
“He does all he can to appear so,” said Bernard, who only esteemed what was natural, and who nevertheless was full of consideration for Ubu.
Everything about Jarry, who was got up to look like the traditional circus clown, smacked of affection – his way of talking in particular; several of the Argonauts did their utmost to imitate it, snapping out their syllables, inventing odd words, and oddly mangling others; but it was only Jarry who could succeed in producing that toneless voice of his – a voice without warmth or intonation, or accents or emphasis.
“When one knows him, he is charming, really,” went on Olivier.
“I prefer not to know him. He looks ferocious.”
“Oh, that’s just the way he has. Passavant thinks that in reality he is the kindest of creatures. But he has drunk a terrible lot tonight; and not a drop of water, you may be sure – nor even of wine; nothing but absinthe and spirits. Passavant’s afraid he may do something eccentric.”
André Gide, The Counterfeiters.