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Robert Desnos

Surrealism in the Twenty-First Century

Series:

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

Extract

Acknowledgements We would like especially to thank Marie-Claire Dumas, who made the Desnos ‘inédits’ available to us for this book. Jacques Fraenkel of the Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet kindly accorded us the copy- right. The newspaper articles were typed by Heather Fenwick at Dur- ham University. We are also very grateful to Janet Starkey for her work on the camera-ready copy, index and bibliography, and to Eliza- beth Tuttle and the late Michel Roudier who provided the final image in the figure section at the end of this volume. We record our gratitude to Michael Sheringham and the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, London, for hosting the conference in November 2000 on which this book is based, and to the French Department of Royal Holloway, University of London, for contributing to the costs of that event. We would like to thank the School of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University, for the generous financial support which has made the final version of this book possible. The School of Mod- ern Languages, Royal Holloway, has kindly assisted with the costs of the illustrations. This volume has travelled and waited in different parts of the world, and we are happy to dedicate it to our patient con- tributors, who supported us faithfully during this journey, with a special thought for Renée Riese Hubert who sadly left us in 2005.

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