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Andre Breton

Magus of Surrealism

By (author) Anna Balakian
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom
Published: 16th Sep 1971
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
ISBN-10: 0195012984
ISBN-13: 9780195012989
Barcode No: 9780195012989

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Kirkus US
Professor Balakian who has done standard works on French symbolism and Surrealism (p. 780) has done a very thorough explication de texte of surrealism's formulator even if as Wallace Fowlie once said the surrealists did not like to have their work defined and catalogued. Apart from a few talks with his wives and with him (most of Breton's private papers are to be withheld for many years), most of this discussion proceeds from Breton's own works and the interview material in Entretiens (1952). A hieratic, deliberate, virile man of high moral principle, Breton attempted to redetermine the relationships between life and art, and as a free spirit, was dedicated to liberating concepts and forms (he was to say in one of his Manifestos "man proposes and disposes"). After his earlier affiliation with Dadaist protest and his exposure not only to Freud but also to Jung's mentor Janet, he drew on many subliminal, eclectic and cabalistic sources. Professor Balakian clearly itemizes the central beliefs in "automatism, magnetism, the sanctification of sexuality and the quest for objective chance" and traces them through his works - the volumes of automatic writing, the manifestos, the poetry, etc. Always a catalyst of other talent and very generously involved with other artists, Breton was close to the painters of his time who also continued his exploration of the psychophysical field. However withdrawn this seems from surface reality, one must remind oneself that Breton never faltered in his choice of the problems of life rather than literature and in his attempt to expand man's knowledge of many worlds. All of this is of course as abstruse and intensely abstract (and aggravating) as many have found surrealism; but Professor Balakian's clear analysis will help to concretize it even if her work seems primarily designated for acolytes and students. (Kirkus Reviews)