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The Surrealism Reader

An Anthology of Ideas

One of the most influential cultural movements of the past century, surrealism has been extensively studied within the framework of its contributions to art and literature—but its pivotal role in the development of intellectual ideas, both political and philosophical, has yet to be fully explored. Featuring writings from the 1920s up to the late 1990s, this anthology—the first of its kind in English—finally reveals surrealism’s diverse scope, its deep contributions to the history of ideas, and its profound implications for contemporary thought.

Including essays by leading surrealists and other major writers on the movement, the volume addresses the key themes of identity, otherness, freedom and morality, and poetry. The texts uncover, among other things, the significance of surrealism for the antifascist and anticolonialist movements and the various manifestations of surrealism in the years after World War II. Giving space to the many different voices that made up the movement, and placing them for the first time within a clear and coherent historical framework, The Surrealism Reader radically revises the popular understanding of what, and when, surrealism was—making this book an essential reference for students, scholars, and all those interested in the central place of surrealism within twentieth-century thought and culture.

368 pages | 70 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2015

Art: Art--General Studies, European Art

History: History of Ideas

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

Table of Contents

Note on the Selection of Material
Part 1 The Annihilation of Self-Identity
André Breton The Haunting
Pierre Mabille Preface in Praise of Popular Prejudices
René Crevel The Noble Mannequin Seeks and Finds her Skin
Paul Nougé The Light, the Shadow and the Prey
Pierre Mabille Mirrors
Marcel Mariën Non-Scientific Treatise on the Fourth Dimension
Michel Leiris The ‘Caput Mortuum’ or the Alchemist’s Wife
Leonora Carrington What Is a Woman?
Annie Le Brun Leave Everything
Vincent Bounoure Memory of the Last One
Bernard Caburet You Will Always Cherish your Failures, Machine-Man
Part 2 The Challenge of Otherness  
Robert Desnos Pamphlet against Jerusalem
Antonin Artaud The Universal Bases of Culture
Jacques Viot Don’t Clutter up the Colonies (fragment);
Approaching the Enchanted Castle
René Crevel The Patriotism of the Unconscious
Benjamin Péret Ruins: Ruin of Ruins
The Bucharest Surrealist Group The Nocturnal Sand
Georges Bataille The Friendship of Man and Beast
Jacqueline Sénard-Duprey Cat = Clover
André Breton Embers in Ceridwen’s Cauldron
Benjamin Péret Light or Life
Robert Benayoun The Twilight of the Wheeler-Dealers
René Ménil The Passage from Poetry to Philosophy
Annie Le Brun A Creolism Sewn with White Thread
René Alleau The Exit from Egypt
Part 3 The Moral Imperative
Louis Aragon It’s Up to You
Louis Aragon Note on Freedom
Marko Ristić Humour as a Moral Attitude
Nicolas Calas Love of Revolution in our Time
André Breton Liberty versus Liberation
Georges Bataille Reflections on the Executioner and the Victim
Gérard Legrand Is Surrealism a Philosophy?
Georges Henein Freedom as Nostalgia and as Project
Elisabeth Lenk The Hidden Being
Philippe Audoin Festival Mood
Pierre Mabille Paradise
Part 4 The Tasks of Art and Poetry
André Breton and Paul Éluard Notes on Poetry
Antonin Artaud The Social Anarchy of Art
Salvador Dalí The Rotting Donkey
Roger Caillois Specification of Poetry
Tristan Tzara Essay on the Situation on Poetry
Paul Nougé Inviolable Images
Roger Caillois Systematisation and Determination
Georges Henein The Subversive Function of Poetry
Karel Teige On Surrealist Semiology
René Magritte The Sense of the World
Adrien Dax Automatic Perspective
Paul Nougé Notes on Poetry
Vincent Bounoure Surrealism and the Savage Heart
Vincent Bounoure and Vratislav Effenberger Magic Art and Revolution
Vratislav Effenberger On the Utilitarian Conception of Language

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