Synopses & Reviews
In this volume Mary Ann Caws revises her 1974 treatise on Breton, adopting a new approach, considering different essays, and concentrating on new aspects of Breton's works. Caws structures her study by concentrating on the surrealist elements in Breton's works, with a full chapter devoted to his poems and surrealist poetry. As one of Breton's most frequent translators and a long-time acquaintance of Breton's last two wives, Caws' viewpoint is both intimate and impassioned.
In this volume Mary Ann Caws revisits her 1974 treatise on Breton, but adopts a fresh approach; she considers different essays, concentrates on new aspects of Breton's works, and takes a new point of view. Caws structures her study in a manner true to the spirit of Surrealism, noting that the freedom from all limits that is Surrealism's goal would not be best served by concentrating on the circumstances of Breton's life or on Surrealism or its history. Caws does offer a concise review of Breton's position in literary history and a brief introduction to the basic tenets of Surrealism and variations thereof, but her primary focus is on the texts left by Breton. Though he made a point of setting down facts and details "without a preestablished order", Caws, for the purposes of this study, relies on the limits Breton himself accepted - not chronological limits, but the simple limits of form: manifestos, short essays, book-length or novelistic essays, and poetry. In Caws's view, poetry is the privileged place of Surrealist encounter, at once the least limited and the most difficult. She devotes a full chapter to Breton's poems and includes a discussion on the reading of Surrealist poetry. One of Breton's most prolific translators and a longtime acquaintance of his last two wives, Caws possesses an intimate and impassioned viewpoint. Her examination is illuminating in its focus on Breton's attitude toward the image and the imagination, the alchemical operation on language and the world, and the future of poetry.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 105-109) and index.