The Birth of Belgian Surrealism
Michel Delville, Preface
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MICHEL DELVILLE, University of Liège
Correspondance, the first Belgian Surrealist “magazine”, was founded by Paul Nougé, Camille Goemans and Marcel Lecomte in 1924, the same year as André Breton’s first Surrealist Manifesto. Since that time, Belgian Surrealism has remained one of the European avant-garde’s best-kept secrets. The names of Nougé, Goemans, Louis Scutenaire, Achille Chavée or Fernand Dumont are conspicuously absent from most anthologies and literary histories, and Belgian Surrealism is generally considered as a non-literary phenomenon and almost systematically confined to the paintings of René Magritte and Paul Delvaux. Unlike many other Belgian writers who moved to Paris to make a career (the examples of Georges Simenon, Henri Michaux, and many others come to mind) most Belgian surrealists published their work in their home country, and this may explain their lack of recognition outside a small circle of connoisseurs and specialists: rather significantly, Nougé’s writings first gained international exposure after they were cited and quoted by Breton in the latter’s own publications. Perhaps it is the sense of being relegated to the margins of francophone culture that accounts, at least in part, for the radical, convulsive spirit that runs ← IX | X → through the history of the Belgian counterculture, from Dada multimedia artist Clément Pansaers to Noël Godin, the now world-famous entarteur who hit Bill Gates with a cream pie in the late 1990s.
Paul Nougé belongs to the first generation of Belgian surrealists, a...
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