Literary Criticism

New PDF release: A Cavalier History of Surrealism

By Raoul Vaneigem

A down-and-dirty survey of the surrealist circulate written via best situationist theorist Raoul Vaneigem. Vaneigem’s caricature bars no holds, blistering on surrealism’s inventive and political aporias, and choked with telling quotations, it provides appreciate the place appreciate is due, laying off loads of mild on situationist attitudes, unfavourable and optimistic, in the direction of their surrealist predecessors.

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Extra resources for A Cavalier History of Surrealism

Sample text

The only thing absent from Breton's tableau of intolerable medi­ ocrity is history. No doubt the nostalgia for the "chateau life" which always haunted the Surrealist dream contained an implicit reference to the great myth of the unitary society of old, where the individual tra­ jectory of even the humblest of men was inextricably bound up with the cosmic in a mass of fictional realities and real fictions, an atmos­ phere in which every event was a sign and every word or gesture mag­ icaIIy sparked off mysterious currents of mental electricity.

Assigned to the "gasworkers' cell", he set out with a disarming willingness to do his bit, but he was exasperated by the Communists' bureaucratic tenden­ cies (which for the time being were not so much sinister as ridicu­ lous), and before long he left the Party militants to their illusions. On the Artaud side of things, meanwhile, though without any direct input from Artaud, a tendency emerged in Surrealism which would become preponderant after the Second World War. The voice of this tendency was Rene Daumal and Roger-Gilbert Lecomte's review Le Grand leu, whose first issue appeared in 1928.

Before leaving the subject o f the critical avenues which were suitable for exploration by Surrealism in its revolutionary specificity, 42 but which were barely entered upon in practice, it is worth citing one quite exemplary demonstration of the popular character of anti­ Christian feeling. The Communist paper L:Humanite having reported how a church in flames had been saved thanks to the courage of a few young people, a reader sent a letter of protest to the editors that was published in Number 2 of Le Surrealisme au Service de la Revolution : Dear Comrades, I cannot but deplore your reporter's praise for the courage of a group of young people when the only result of that courage was the preservation of a building that should by rights have been razed long ago.

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A Cavalier History of Surrealism by Raoul Vaneigem


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