The Imagery of Surrealism

The Imagery of Surrealism

The Imagery of Surrealism

The Imagery of Surrealism

Excerpt

LES CHAMPS MAGNÉTIQUES was written in collaboration by André Breton and Philippe Soupault during the summer of 1919. First serialized in the magazine Littératuré from October 1919 onward, it appeared in book form under the imprint Au Sans Pareil in 1920. In his Entretiens (1952), Breton qualifies Les Champs magnétiques as "the first surrealist work," because it was "the fruit of the first systematic applications of automatic writing" (p. 56). An essay in Soupault Profils perdus (1963) explains at greater length:

At that period, while André Breton and myself had not yet baptised ourselves surrealists, we wanted at first to give ourselves up to experimentation. It led us to consider poetry as a liberation, as the possibility (perhaps the sole possibility) of granting the mind a liberty we had known only in our dreams and of delivering us from the apparatus of logic.

In the course of our inquiry we had discovered indeed that the mind released from all critical pressures and from academic habits offered images and not logical propositions and that, if we agreed to adopt what the psychiatrist Pierre Janet called automatic writing, we noted down texts in which we discovered a "universe" unexplored up to then. (p. 166)

As Soupault points out in an Essai sur la poésie (1950), their experiments persuaded him and Breton to treat poetry not as a system, after the manner of Stéphane Mallarmé, but as a liberative experience (p. xx).

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