Breton attended medical school, where he developed a particular interest in mental illness. The couple relocated to rue Fontaine No. He was an atheist. Anxious to combine the themes of personal transformation found in the works of Arthur Rimbaud with the politics of Karl Marx , Breton joined the French Communist Party in , from which he was expelled in Nadja , a novel about his encounter with an imaginative woman who later became mentally ill, was published in Breton celebrated the concept of Mad Love, and many women joined the surrealist group over the years.

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Start your review of Manifestoes of Surrealism Write a review Shelves: litcrit-theory "Surrealism is the "invisible ray" which will one day enable us to win out over our opponents. The earth, draped in its verdant cloak, makes as little impression upon me as a ghost. It is living and ceasing to live that are imaginary solutions. Existence is elsewhere. Anything and everything is possible in the Surrealist world! Secret houses pave the floor of the ocean in which secret people live among mermaids and dolphins!

The waters of such oceans turn into honey and milk as they crash on the chocolate shore, where children build castles, children having big, resplendent eyes, children with little wings, children like fairies and forest nymphs, darting in and out of little chocolate rooms. The Soluble Fish, a piece of surrealist fiction, sandwiched between two manifestoes in this book, is a quintessential surrealist work; perfectly embodying the ideas of the grand master.

It is strange, it is disturbing, it is vivid imagination at its eloquent best! It is in quest of this surreality that I am going The avant-garde had already expressed his discontent with Realist and Naturalist fiction which resulted in the inception of the schools of Expressionism and Symbolism. But Breton took it up a notch and, though, in veering away from traditional fiction, Surrealism does resemble Expressionism, its underpinnings are slightly different.

The Surrealist sees and interprets the world from the eyes of the unconscious. Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express--verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner--the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought.

It tends to ruin once and for all all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life. To open up the vaults of the unconscious, the Surrealist surrenders complete control over his conscious thought and eases himself into a trance-like state.

With a pen in his fingers and a paper on the desk, he becomes a mere medium of expression. Language gushes and spills forth and makes all sorts of associations on the paper without the avant-garde controlling or manipulating anything.

This is what Breton calls automatic writing. The second manifesto is a kind of a rant in which Breton answers to criticisms and vilifications.

A few extracts follow the second manifesto in which the political sympathies of Breton and the Surrealists are explored. Frankly speaking, everything after the The Soluble Fish is tedious, dense and gratuitous. Even so, the first manifesto and the piece of fiction justify their function completely and are a triumph.

This is recommended to all those who seek understanding of the Surrealist agenda. Breton, at least in the first half of the book, shall not disappoint.

You will take me farther than I have been able to go, and your arms will be roaring grottoes full of pretty animals and ermines. You will make only a sigh of me, that will go on and on through all the Robinsons of earth. I am not lost to you: I am only apart from what resembles you, on the high seas, where the bird called Heartbreak gives its cry that raises the pommels of ice of which the stars of day are the broken guard.


André Breton



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Manifestoes of Surrealism


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