A compendium of the French surrealist's major prose writings, from
1936 to 1952, which intriguingly exposes Breton's limitations and
datedness along with his besetting enthusiasms. This surrealist
exemplar, like his colleagues, sought "the liberation of the human
spirit" through perceptual experiment. His main literary tool in
this was automatism, a method of composition that abandoned the
rational in order to discover more intrinsic truths lodged in the
unconscious. Breton's desires to "transform the world," to "change
life," and to "reshape the human mind" were subversively political
as well as aesthetic in purpose. But an abiding irony of his
wordage is its dogmatism and stiff, bulging verbal edifice in a
collection that includes memoir, political and cultural critique,
aesthetic credos, public lectures, and all-purpose rants. Though
historically a rebel, Breton also conveys the contrary urges of an
institution-builder or party stalwart who is indulging in a few too
many partisan, chastening pronouncements. In this translation, his
style comes across as baroque, with some exceptions, as when the
author was inspired to reply to a precocious 12-year-old girl's
letter. She asked him, "Do you think Americans are right to give so
much freedom to children or is it better, as in France, to subject
them to strict discipline? . . . Do you recommend artists such as
Matisse and Picasso to children?" Called on to radically simplify
his position for a child with no prior assumptions, Breton could be
fetchingly ingenuous and illuminating. "Well," he conceded, "if you
had been able to question me earlier, you would have found me much
more self-confident." The paradoxes implied by a once-vernal
intelligence, which now come to seem rather Wizard-of-Oz-like,
recommend a reconsideration of Breton's work. (Kirkus Reviews)
"Free Rein" is a gathering of seminal essays by Andre Breton, the
foremost figure among the French surrealists. Written between 1936
and 1952, they include addresses, manifestoes, prefaces, exhibition
pamphlets, and theoretical, polemical, and lyrical essays. Together
they display the full span of Breton's preoccupations, his abiding
faith in the early principles of surrealism, and the changing
orientations, in light of crucial events of those years, of the
surrealist movement within which he remained the leading force.
Having broken decisively with Marxism in the mid-1930s, Breton
repeatedly addresses the horrors of the Stalinist regime (which
denounced him during the Moscow trials of 1936). He argues for the
autonomy of art and poetry and condemns the subservience to
"revolutionary" aims exemplified by socialist realism. Other
articles reflect on aesthetic issues, cinema, music, and education
and provide detailed meditations on the literary, artistic, and
philosophical topics for which he is best known. "Free Rein" will
prove indispensable for students of Breton, surrealism, and modern
French and European culture.
Is the information for this product incomplete, wrong or inappropriate?
Let us know about it.
Does this product have an incorrect or missing image?
Send us a new image.
Is this product missing categories?
Add more categories.
Review This Product
No reviews yet - be the first to create one!