More on André Breton and Haiti

I have just discovered a fascinating book (originally published in Quebec as Les Écrivains Noir et le Surréalisme) titled The Black Surrealists by Jean-Claude Michel, a teacher in Miami. I don’t recall this book being cited in Robin Kelley’s Black Brown and Beige (reviewed earlier on this blog), which is a shame because it contains […]

Hiroshima Day, 2010: ‘I Am Grateful for the Wild Grasses’

Today marks the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city of Hiroshima, which resulted in at least 70,000 immediate and direct fatalities (an additional 40,000 were killed outright in the bombing of the historic city of Nagasaki three days later—40,000 more died there in the following months from injuries). To commemorate this occasion, […]

‘These nasty vessels’ : Was the BP Oil Disaster Forseen in Andre Breton’s Soluble Fish?

I am in the process of reading Ferdinand Alquié’s The Philosophy of Surrealism (an important book I hope to return to in the near future) and came across the striking passage below from André Breton’s Soluble Fish (1924). Alquié includes this brief excerpt while discussing water imagery in the section titled “Derealization” of Chapter 2, […]

Surrealism and the Non-White World

Black, Brown and Beige: Surrealist Writings From Africa and the Diaspora Edited by Franklin Rosemont and Robin D.G. Kelley University of Texas Press. 2009. 395 pages. A title in the Surrealist Revolution series. ••• African-American historian Robin Kelley and Surrealist Franklin Rosemont (who passed away in 2009) have produced a provocative compilation of Surrealist texts […]

Breton and Haiti, Once Again

I just had the opportunity to read André Breton: Magus of Surrealism by Anna Balakian, the first American scholar to seriously investigate Surrealism. Balakian, who passed away in 1997 (see obituary in The New York Times, August 15, 1997), published Literary Origins of Surrealism in 1947, after having interviewed Breton when he lived in New […]

The Martinique Route

Martinique: Snake Charmer by André Breton, with text and illustrations by André Masson University of Texas Press, 2008. 117 pages. One of Franklin Rosemont’s final contributions before his death in 2009 was seeing this book—part of the University of Texas Press Surrealist Revolution series, which he edited—through to print. As Rosemont says in his valuable […]

‘The Greatest Power of Shock’

Franklin Rosemont’s 1978 collection of writings by André Breton, What is Surrealism? remains a treasure trove of rare and valuable texts. I have just come across a footnote by Rosemont to “On Proletarian Literature,” an interesting 1933 speech by Breton, which draws attention to the fact that the Surrealists were the first to publish in […]

A Letter from Coyoacan, 1938

André Breton broke resolutely with the Communist Party of France and the international apparatus of Communist parties in 1935, leaving behind forever former Surrealists such as Louis Aragon and Paul Eluard. Breton’s criticisms of the counter-revolutionary monstrosity the Stalin version of socialism had become are magnificently expressed in the indispensable essays of Political Position of […]

Department of Passing References: Breton and Haiti

Out of Ruin, Haiti’s Visionaries *** André Breton’s connection to Haiti was mentioned briefly in this interesting article in The New York Times this week. In a special museum section (in Thursday’s print national edition), Holland Cotter describes the effects of the recent earthquake on Haiti’s artists. He mentions Breton in reference to damage to […]