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Robert Desnos

Surrealism in the Twenty-First Century


Edited By Marie-Claire Barnet, Eric Robertson and Nigel Saint

« Ce n’est pas la poésie qui doit être libre, c’est le poète. » A legendary figure within the Surrealist movement, Robert Desnos (1900-1945) has left a unique legacy as a poet of distinction, as a ‘dormeur éveillé’ revered by his fellow Surrealists, and as a free spirit par excellence. In celebrating Desnos’s unique creative voice, this book re-evaluates his prominence within and beyond the Surrealist movement, reappraises his status as a poet, and sheds new light on his contribution to the literary and cultural life of his age. The essays in the volume reflect the ongoing vitality and relevance of Desnos’s poetry and the originality of his contribution to the various other forms of expression in which he excelled: journalism, short stories, script-writing and song-writing. Desnos’s extensive writings on art and artists, his active involvement in avant-garde film and his close associations with a number of renowned painters are also addressed. This fresh look at Desnos’s activities and contexts includes an interview with the artist Georges Malkine’s daughter, Fern Malkine-Falvey, and a study of the memoirs of Desnos’s wife, Youki. The volume closes with a rare collection of journalistic writings by Desnos which appeared in Le Soir in the late 1920s and have never appeared in print since their original publication.


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Acknowledgements 9 MARIE-CLAIRE BARNET, ERIC ROBERTSON AND NIGEL SAINT Introduction 11 Part One: Desnos and the Surrealist Movement ROGER CARDINAL The Diary of an Apparition 21 MICHAEL G. KELLY Pureté de l’impur. Robert Desnos et Le Grand Jeu 43 PHILIPPE MET « SÉLAVY (Rrose) ou c’est la viscérose » : Desnos selon Leiris, ou la voie/x de son maître ? 57 ANDREW ROTHWELL ‘Robert Desnos parle surréaliste à volonté’ 69 Part Two: The Poetics / Politics of Time and Space GEORGIANA M.M. COLVILE Éros, Hypnos et Thanatos : The Night of Loveless Nights (1927–1930) 111 MARY ANN CAWS The Destiny of Robert Desnos 127 KATHARINE CONLEY Against the Grain: tracing Desnos’s Contrée in Pétain’s France 135 MARIE-CLAIRE DUMAS Belle Angleterre de légendes 149 Part Three: Writing the Everyday ADELAIDE RUSSO Robert Desnos’s ‘Gymnastics’ 169 JONATHAN EBURNE On Murder, Considered as one of the Surrealist Arts: Robert Desnos in the shadow of Jack the Ripper 187 MARIE-CLAIRE BARNET Les Voix de la sirène: bavardage, tatouage, et décalcomanie 203 Part Four: Desnos and the Visual Arts RENEE RIESE HUBERT Robert Desnos rhabillé par ses illustrateurs, même 231 ELZA ADAMOWICZ Desnos’s Writings on Art. Beyond the Exotic? 247 RAMONA FOTIADE Automatism and the Moving Image: from verbal to visual metaphor in L’Étoile de mer 263 FERN MALKINE-FALVEY Robert Desnos and Georges Malkine: some recollections 285 Appendix: Robert Desnos, journalist MARIE-CLAIRE BARNET Préface 297 ROBERT DESNOS Articles from Le Soir (1927–1928) 303 Bibliography 355 Notes...

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