Chapter One - Surrealism and history 25
25 Chapter One Surrealism and history On May 5 th 1925, anniversary of the opening of the estates general and of the death of Napoleon, la Révolution surréaliste explodes (L’Europe Nouvelle). 1 In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx describes an uncomfortable relationship between past and present, between man-made histories and current circumstances, suggesting that: ‘The tradition of the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the minds of the living’. 2 The nightmare clearly held sway over the author of the bizarre historical analogy attributed to the journal L’Europe Nouvelle in la Révolution surréaliste 2, January 1925. The short text was one of many press extracts regarding surrealism republished in the journal, but it is likely to have been authored, rather than found, by a member of the surrealist group. The analogy between revolutions is, after all, noteworthy for an unlikely prescience: the alignment between the convocation of the estates general in 1789 (the birth of the French Revolution), the death of Napoleon in 1821 and the ‘explosion’ of the surrealist revolution on 5 May 1925, having not yet come to pass in the January of that year. The pressure to comply with such illustrious historical precedents seems (predictably) to have inspired a surrealist day of inertia, which is to say that nothing of historical consequence to the surrealist movement has been recorded. 3 The following December, however, Paul Eluard took a leaf from the same book to illustrate his text ‘D.A.F. de...
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