Dafato Team | Jul 10, 2023

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Surrealism (from the French surréalisme) was a cultural movement developed in Europe after World War I, largely influenced by Dadaism. The RAE describes it as "an artistic and literary movement that attempts to surpass the real by pushing the irrational and dreamlike through the automatic expression of thought or the subconscious".

The movement is known for its visual art and writing mixed with an unusual imagination. The artists painted disconcerting and illogical images, often with a photographic precision, creating strange creatures out of everyday objects and developing pictorial techniques that allowed them to unveil the subconscious. The aim was, according to André Breton, "to turn the contradictions of dreams and reality into an absolute reality, a super reality".

Surrealist works contain elements and their other positions unexpected and non sequitur; however, many Surrealist artists and writers describe their work first as an expression of the philosophical movement and, more importantly, conceived as an artifact. Breton claimed that surrealism was a revolutionary movement, being associated with political causes such as communism and anarchism.

The term "surrealism" was first coined by Guillaume Apollinaire in 1917. However, the surrealist movement was not established until October 15, 1924, when French poet and critic André Breton published the Manifesto of Surrealism in Paris. Paris would become the movement's headquarters. From the 1920s onward, the movement spread around the world, influencing the visual arts, literature, film and music of multiple countries and languages, as well as political thought and practice, philosophy and social theory.

The term comes from the French: surréalisme; sur plus réalisme . It was coined by the French writer Guillaume Apollinaire in 1917. In the handbill he wrote for the musical Parade (May 1917) he states that its authors have achieved:

The word surrealist appears as early as June 1917, in the subtitle of The Tits of Tiresias (surrealist drama), to refer to the creative reproduction of an object, which transforms and enriches it. As Apollinaire writes in the preface to the drama:

Surrealists pointed to various thinkers and artists, such as the pre-Socratic thinker Heraclitus, the Marquis de Sade and Charles Fourier, among others, as precedents for the surrealist enterprise. Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical theories on the dream and the subconscious were undoubtedly one of the pillars in the creation of surrealist thought.

As for the arts, surrealist poetry draws from dialectics and finds precursors in Arthur Rimbaud, Alfred Jarry or Lautréamont. In painting, the earliest precedent is that of Hieronymus Bosch "Bosch", who in the 15th and 16th centuries created works such as The Garden of Earthly Delights or The Hay Chariot; just as, at the end of the 19th century, the most notable is Giorgio de Chirico and his metaphysical painting. Surrealism takes up these elements and offers a systematic formulation of them. However, its most immediate precedent is Dadaism, a current from which it takes up different aspects.

The first historical date of the movement is 1916, year in which André Breton, precursor, leader and great thinker of the movement, discovers the theories of Sigmund Freud and Alfred Jarry, in addition to meeting Jacques Vaché and Guillaume Apollinaire. During the following years there is a confusing encounter with Dadaism, an artistic movement preceded by Tristan Tzara, in which the ideas of both movements are decanted. These, one inclined towards nihilistic destruction (Dada) and the other towards romantic construction (Surrealism) served as catalysts between them during their development.

In 1924 Breton writes the first Surrealist Manifesto and in it he includes the following.

Surrealism: "noun, masculine. Pure psychic automatism, by means of which an attempt is made to express, verbally, in writing or in any other way, the real functioning of thought. It is a dictation of thought, without the regulating intervention of reason, alien to any aesthetic or moral concern."

Such was the definition of the term given by Breton and Soupault themselves in the first Surrealist Manifesto dated 1924. It thus emerged as a poetic movement, in which painting and sculpture are conceived as plastic consequences of poetry.

In Surrealism and Painting, 1928, Breton expounds surrealist psychology: the unconscious is the region of the intellect where the human being does not objectify reality but forms a whole with it. Art, in this sphere, is not representation but direct vital communication of the individual with the whole. This connection is expressed in a privileged way in significant coincidences (objective chance), in which the desire of the individual and the becoming alien to him converge unpredictably, and in the dream, where the most disparate elements are revealed to be united by secret relationships. Surrealism proposes to transfer these images to the world of art by means of a free mental association, without the censorious interference of the conscience. That is why it chooses automatism as its method, largely taking the baton from spiritualistic mediumistic practices, although radically changing its interpretation: what speaks through the medium is not the spirits, but the unconscious...

During some feverish sessions of automatism, Breton and Soupault write The Magnetic Fields, the first sample of the possibilities of automatic writing, which they publish in 1921. Later Breton publishes Soluble Fish. This is how the end of the seventh story reads:

In 1925, following the outbreak of the Rif War, surrealism became politicized; the first contacts with the communists took place, which would culminate that same year with Breton's adhesion to the Communist Party.

Between 1925 and 1930 a new newspaper appeared entitled Surrealism in the Service of the Revolution, in whose first issue Louis Aragon, Buñuel, Dali, Paul Éluard, Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy and Tristan Tzara, among others, declared themselves supporters of Breton. For their part, Jean Arp and Miró, although they did not share the political decision taken by Breton, continued to participate with interest in the surrealist exhibitions. Shortly afterwards Magritte (1930), Masson (1931), Giacometti and Brauner in 1933 and also Matta (the movement became international, with surrealist groups appearing in the United States, Denmark, London, Czechoslovakia and Japan) joined the group. From this moment on, a dispute, often bitter, will open between those surrealists who conceive surrealism as a purely artistic movement, rejecting the subordination to communism, and those who accompany Breton in his turn to the left.

In 1929 Breton published the Second Surrealist Manifesto, in which he condemned, among other intellectuals, the artists Masson and Francis Picabia. In 1936 he expelled Dalí for wanting to remain neutral in the face of the movement's politicization and not condemning German Nazism, and Paul Éluard. In 1938 Breton signs in Mexico together with Leon Trotski and Diego Rivera the Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art.

Despite this split, there are numerous artists and works of art that are identified and classified as surrealist, without their works having political biases. The most important element within surrealism remains the augmented reality, deformed or reinterpreted from dreamlike and subconscious elements.

Surrealism borrowed from Dadaism some techniques of photography and cinematography as well as the fabrication of objects. They extended the principle of collage (the "found object") to the assembly of incongruous objects, as in the visible poems of Max Ernst. The latter invented frottage (drawings composed by rubbing rough surfaces against paper or canvas) and applied it in major works such as Natural History, painted in Paris in 1926.

They created the exquisite corpse, in which several artists drew the different parts of a figure or a text without seeing what the previous artist had done by passing the folded paper. The resulting creatures could serve as inspiration for Miró.

Other techniques used in surrealism were the calligram, the Objet Trouvé, cubomania, soufflage, the paranoid critical method, smoking, decalcomania, frottage, among others. All these techniques were based on chance and improvisation, following the philosophy of the surrealist movement.

In the literary field, surrealism meant a great revolution in language and the contribution of new composition techniques. Since it did not assume any cultural tradition, neither from the thematic nor formal point of view, it dispensed with metrics and adopted the type of poetic expression known as verse: a verse of indefinite length without rhyme that is sustained only by the internal cohesion of its rhythm. Likewise, since the consecrated thematic was not assumed, it went to search in the sources of psychological (dreams, sexuality) and social repression, with which the lyric was re-humanized after the intellectualized isms of the Vanguards dehumanized it, with the exception of Expressionism. To this end, they used the resources of dream transcription and automatic writing, and engendered new metaphorical procedures such as the visionary image. Language was also renewed from the point of view of the lexicon, making room for new semantic fields, and rhetoric was enriched with new expressive procedures.

Masson immediately adopted the techniques of automatism, around 1923-1924, shortly after meeting Breton. Around 1929 he abandoned them to return to a cubist style. For his part, Dalí made more use of the fixation of images taken from dreams, according to Breton, "...abusing them and endangering the credibility of surrealism..."; he invented what he himself called the paranoiac-critical method, a mixture of Leonardo da Vinci's observation technique, by means of which, observing a wall, one could see how forms and frottage techniques emerged; the fruit of this technique are the works in which two images are seen in a single configuration. Óscar Domínguez invented decalcomania (applying black gouache on a piece of paper which is placed on top of another sheet of paper on which a light pressure is exerted, then they are peeled off before they dry). In addition to the aforementioned techniques of decalcomania and frottage, the surrealists developed other procedures that also included chance: scraping, fumage and the distribution of sand on the glued canvas.

Miró was for Breton the most surrealist of all, because of his pure psychic automatism. His surrealism unfolds between the first works where he explores his childhood dreams and fantasies (The Tilled Field), the works where automatism is predominant (Birth of the World) and the works in which he develops his language of signs and biomorphic forms (Character Throwing a Stone). Arp combines the techniques of automatism and oneiric techniques in the same work, developing an iconography of organic forms that has been called biomorphic sculpture, in which he tries to represent the organic as a formative principle of reality.

René Magritte endowed surrealism with a conceptual charge based on the play of ambiguous images and their meaning denoted through words, questioning the relationship between a painted object and the real one. Paul Delvaux charged his works with a thick eroticism based on his character of estrangement in the spaces of Giorgio de Chirico.

Surrealism permeated the activity of many European and American artists at different times. Pablo Picasso allied himself with the surrealist movement in 1925; Breton declared Picasso's approach as "...surrealist within cubism...". The works of the Dinard period (1928-1930), in which Picasso combines the monstrous and the sublime in the composition of half-machine, half-monster figures of gigantic and sometimes terrifying appearance, are considered surrealist. This surrealistic monumentality of Picasso can be paralleled with that of Henry Moore and in poetry and theater with that of Fernando Arrabal.

Other pictorial movements were born from surrealism or prefigure it, such as Art brut.

In 1938 the International Exhibition of Surrealism took place in Paris, which marked the peak of this movement before the war. Among others, Marcel Duchamp, Jean Arp, Dalí, Max Ernst, Masson, Man Ray, Óscar Domínguez and Meret Oppenheim participated. The exhibition offered the public above all an excellent sample of what surrealism had produced in the manufacture of objects.

With the outbreak of World War II, the surrealists dispersed, some of them (Dali, Breton, Ernst, Masson) left Paris and moved to the United States, where they sowed the seeds for the future American post-war movements (abstract expressionism and Pop Art).

Surrealism in Spanish and Latin American painting

In Spain, surrealism appeared around 1920, not in its purely avant-garde aspect, but mixed with symbolist accents and popular painting. In addition to Joan Miró and Salvador Dalí, Spanish surrealism was made up of Maruja Mallo, Gregorio Prieto, José Moreno Villa, Benjamín Palencia and José Caballero, as well as the neo-cubists who switched to surrealism (Alberto Sánchez, Manuel Ángeles Ortiz and Ángel Ferrant).

There was an important surrealist nucleus in the Canary Islands, grouped around Eduardo Westerdahl's Gaceta de Arte, from which a group of poets invited André Breton to come in 1935; there he composed the poem Le chateau etoilé and other works. The most important representatives of surrealist painting in the archipelago were Óscar Domínguez, Juan Ismael and Westerdahl himself.

In Latin America, in addition to the aforementioned Roberto Matta (Chile) and Lam, Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington (both European immigrants who later became Mexican nationals) are considered surrealists.

What is considered the first surrealist exhibition in Latin America was held in Lima, Peru in 1935 at the initiative of Peruvian surrealist poets and painters Cesar Moro and Emilio Adolfo Westphalen. Later in Mexico, in January 1940, the same Cesar Moro with André Breton and Wolfgang Paalen managed to present at the Mexican Art Gallery a selection of forty works by both representatives of the surrealist movement and Americans whose work had an affinity with the movement. There is a debate as to whether Frida Kahlo's work belongs to the surrealist movement. Breton considered Mexico the essence of surrealism and interpreted her works as surrealist, although Kahlo herself clearly stated "I don't paint dreams... I paint my reality".

It is worth mentioning the contribution to the movement made from Buenos Aires, Argentina, by artists and writers such as Aldo Pellegrini, Planas Casas and Batlle Planas.

Surrealism in Hispanic literature

Surrealism was followed with interest by Spanish intellectuals in the 1930's. There was the precedent of Ramón Gómez de la Serna, who used some formulas linked to surrealism, such as the greguería.

Several poets of the generation of 1927 were interested in the expressive possibilities of surrealism. The first to adopt its methods was José María Hinojosa, author of La flor de Californía (1928), a pioneering book of narrative and dreamlike prose. Its imprint is also evident in books such as the third section of Sobre los ángeles and Sermones y moradas by Rafael Alberti; in Poeta en Nueva York by Federico García Lorca and Un río, un amor and Los placeres prohibidos by Luis Cernuda. Vicente Aleixandre defined himself as "a super-realist poet", although he qualified that his poetry was not in any way a direct product of automatic writing. Miguel Hernández suffered an ephemeral surrealist stage and during the post-war period the surrealist imprint is perceived in the poets of Postism and in Juan Eduardo Cirlot, and at present there is a certain post-surrealism in the work of some poets such as Blanca Andreu.

But it can be said that it was only in the Canary Islands where the surrealist adventure had, in the first minute of the movement, an authentic expression, that is, a declared link to the movement but without settling in Paris: the Surrealist Faction of Tenerife, as described by Domingo Perez Minik later on. All its members, led by Agustín Espinosa and linked to Paris by the Tenerife painter Óscar Domínguez, came from the experience of the insular avant-garde with the magazine La Rosa de los Vientos, which appeared in 1926, and would continue working on the artistic and literary renovation of the islands in Gaceta de Arte, one of the most important magazines of the Hispanic avant-garde, with diverse international avant-garde content and with non-surrealist collaborators such as Domingo Pérez Minik and Eduardo Westerdahl. Apart from Espinosa, Pedro García Cabrera, Emeterio Gutiérrez Albelo, Domingo López Torres and José María de la Rosa complete the list of surrealist writers with works such as Crimen (1934) -considered by some as the best surrealist prose in Spanish-, Romanticismo y cuenta nueva (1933), Enigma del invitado (1936), Dársena con despertadores (1936), Lo imprevisto (1937) and Vértice de sombra (1936). Juan Ismael would join Óscar Domínguez in the plastic arts, but developing his activity in the islands. As in the other cases, the Spanish Civil War put an end to the group and to the lives of some of them, such as López Torres - drowned by the Nationalists - or Espinosa, who died shortly after the coup d'état; García Cabrera, for his part, would be arrested and would flee, joining the Republican troops. However, the activity had reached its peak with the visit of André Breton and Benjamin Péret to Tenerife in 1935, organizing a painting exhibition, signing the Second International Bulletin of Surrealism, trying to project Luis Buñuel's The Golden Age -forbidden by the island's government- and leaving Breton a memory that would constitute the content of chapter V of his L'amour fou (1937).

Although he cannot be considered a strict surrealist, the poet and thinker Juan Larrea experienced firsthand the emergence of the movement in Paris and later reflected on its value and transcendence in works such as Surrealismo entre viejo y nuevo mundo (1944). At present there is a current of neo-surrealism in the poetry of Blanca Andreu. The Spaniard Fernando Arrabal had a daily attendance at the "surrealist café" La Promenade de Vénus from 1960 to 1963. André Breton published his theater, his "Stone of Madness" and some of his paintings.

In Latin America, surrealism was enthusiastically supported by poets such as Chilean Braulio Arenas and Peruvians César Moro, Xavier Abril and Emilio Adolfo Westphalen, as well as influencing the work of Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier and Chilean poets Pablo Neruda, Gonzalo Rojas and Peruvian César Vallejo. In Argentina, despite the disdain of Jorge Luis Borges, surrealism still seduced the young Julio Cortázar and produced a late fruit in the work of Alejandra Pizarnik. The Mexican poet and thinker Octavio Paz occupies a special place in the history of the movement: a personal friend of Breton, he dedicated several enlightening essays to surrealism.

In the Catalan-Balearic literature we have the poetic surrealism of the Majorcan Llorenç Vidal especially in his works "El cant de la balalaika" and "5 meditacions existencials".

In the literature

Surrealism had as antecedents the pataphysics of Alfred Jarry, and the Dadaist movement founded in Zurich in 1916 by T. Tzara, H. Ball and H. Arp. Encouraged by the same spirit of provocation, André Breton, Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault founded in Paris the magazine Littérature (1919), while in the USA Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp and Francis Picabia expressed similar attitudes, and in Germany, Max Ernst and Hugo Ball.

This phase was followed by a more methodical attitude of investigation of the unconscious, undertaken by Breton, together with Aragon, Paul Éluard, Soupault, Robert Desnos, Max Ernst, etc. The first work of this tendency, which can be described as the first surrealist literary work, was The Magnetic Fields (1921), written jointly by Breton and Soupault. After the break with Tzara, Antonin Artaud, André Masson and Pierre Naville joined the movement.

Breton wrote the first definition of the movement in his Manifesto of Surrealism (1924), a text that gave cohesion to the postulates and purposes of the movement. Among the authors he cited as precursors of the movement were Freud, Lautréamont, Edward Young, Matthew Lewis, Gérard de Nerval, Jonathan Swift, Marquis de Sade, François-René de Chateaubriand, Victor Hugo, Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Mallarmé and Jarry. In the same year the Bureau de recherches surréalistes was founded and the magazine La Révolution Surréaliste, which replaced Littérature, whose direction was taken over by Breton himself in 1925 and which became the group's common organ of expression.

Surrealist production was characterized by an unlimited libertarian vocation and the exaltation of oneiric processes, corrosive humor and erotic passion, conceived as weapons of struggle against the bourgeois cultural tradition. The group's ideas were expressed through literary techniques such as "automatic writing", pictorial provocations and noisy public statements. The rapprochement that took place at the end of the 1920s with the communists produced the first quarrels and schisms in the movement.

In 1930 Breton published his Second Manifesto of Surrealism, in which he excommunicated Joseph Delteil, Antonin Artaud, Philippe Soupault, Robert Desnos, Georges Limbour, André Masson, Roger Vitrac, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes and Francis Picabia. The same year the new organ of the movement appeared, the magazine Le Surréalisme au Service de la Révolution, which supplanted the previous one, La Révolution Surréaliste, and at the same time, Aragon (after his trip to the USSR), Éluard, Péret and Breton joined the Communist Party. At the end of 1933, Breton, Éluard and Crevel were expelled from the party. In the 1930s Salvador Dalí, Luis Buñuel, Yves Tanguy, René Char and Georges Sadoul joined the movement. Already expelled from the group by Breton, Dalí published in 1942 "The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí", an autobiography that brings together many of the elements of surrealism and that confirms the literary virtues of a Dalí at the height of his creativity.

After the years prior to World War II, marked by Breton's active militancy, and the years of New York exile of most of its members during the German occupation of France, the movement continued to maintain a certain cohesion and vitality, but after 1946, when Breton returned to Paris, Surrealism was already part of history.

In the plastic arts

At the beginning, surrealism was a fundamentally literary movement, and until a little later it would not produce great results in the plastic arts. A fundamental concept arose, automatism, based on a sort of magical dictation, coming from the unconscious, thanks to which poems, essays, etc. emerged, and which would later be picked up by painters and sculptors.

The first surrealist exhibition was held at the Galerie Pierre in Paris in 1925, and in it, in addition to Jean Arp, Giorgio de Chirico and Max Ernst, participated artists such as André Masson, Picasso, Man Ray, Pierre Roy, P. Klee and Joan Miró, who would later separate from the movement or would remain attached to it by adopting only some of its principles. They were joined by Yves Tanguy, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí and Alberto Giacometti.

Surrealism's rebellion against the bourgeois cultural tradition and the established moral order had its political side, and a sector of Surrealism, which did not consider the tumult of its cultural manifestations sufficient, joined the French Communist Party. However, violent disagreements arose within the group over the debate on the relationship between art and politics; contradictory manifestos followed one after another and the movement tended to break up. It is significant, in this respect, that the review "La révolution surréaliste" was renamed, from 1930, "Le surréalisme au service de la révolution". In the 1930s, the movement spread beyond the French borders. The International Surrealist Exhibition was held in Paris in 1938.

The Second World War paralyzed all activity in Europe. This prompted Breton, like many other artists, to leave for the U.S. There, an association of German and French surrealist painters came together around the magazine VVV. These surrealists who emigrated to the U.S. influenced American art, particularly the development of abstract expressionism in the 1940s. When Breton returned to Europe in 1946, the movement was already in a definite decline.

Among visual artists there is a duality in the interpretation of surrealism: the abstract surrealists, who opt for the application of pure automatism, such as André Masson or Joan Miró, and invent their own figurative universes; and the figurative surrealists, interested in the oneiric way, among them René Magritte, Paul Delvaux, or Salvador Dalí, who make use of a meticulous realism and traditional technical means, but who depart from traditional painting by the unusual association of objects and the monstrous deformations, as well as by the oneiric and delirious atmosphere that emerges from their works. Max Ernst is one of the few surrealists who moves between the two paths. Ernst's work has particularly influenced a late epigone of surrealism in Germany, Stefan von Reiswitz.

In music

In the 1920s, several composers were influenced by surrealism or by individuals from the surrealist movement. These included Bohuslav Martinů, André Souris, Erik Satie or Edgard Varèse, who claimed that his work Arcana was conceived from a dream. Souris in particular was associated with the movement: he had a long relationship with Magritte and worked on Paul Nougé's publication, Adieu Marie.

Although Breton in 1946 responded rather negatively to the subject of music with his essay Silence is Golden, later surrealists, such as Paul Garon, became interested in surrealism in jazz and blues improvisation and have found parallels. Jazz and blues musicians have reciprocated this interest. For example, the 1976 World Surrealist Exhibition included performances by guitarist and singer David "Honeyboy" Edwards.

In the audiovisual media

On the cinematographic side, surrealism gave rise to several attempts framed in the cinema of the historical avant-garde, such as La Coquille et le clergyman (1926, "The Conch and the Clergyman"), by Germaine Dulac or L'étoile de mer (1928, "The Starfish"), by Man Ray and Robert Desnos, a Dadaist short film.

Entr'acte, a 22-minute short film written by René Clair and Francis Picabia, directed by Clair, can also be considered surrealistic.

Luis Buñuel, in collaboration with Dalí, produced the most revolutionary works: Un perro andaluz (Un chien andalou, 1928) and La edad de oro (L'âge d'or, 1930).

In 1931 Jean Cocteau wrote, directed and premiered The Blood of a Poet, a 50-minute surrealist medium-length film.

In the United States, the mother of cinematic surrealism, from 1940, was Maya Deren. Her 14-minute Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) is considered the first American surrealist masterpiece. However, an earlier film can also be considered surrealist, Rose Hobart (1936), where Joseph Cornell makes a new montage in the form of a collage from celluloid of another earlier film, East of Borneo (1931), a film before the entry into force of the Hays Code directed by George Melford.

Alfred Hitchcock and Salvador Dalí collaborated when the former commissioned the Catalan artist to do part of the set design for Recuerda (Spellbound, 1945).

Since the 1960s, contemporary filmmakers such as Alejandro Jodorowsky, David Lynch, Jan Švankmajer, Fernando Arrabal and, in the 1980s and 1990s, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Julio Médem, Stephen Sayadian and Carlos Atanes, among others, show the influence of surrealism.

The cinema written or directed by the Panic Group, formed by Roland Topor, Arrabal and Jodorowsky, is also considered surrealist or post-surrealist cinema, since all three were part of the Surrealist Group led by Breton in Paris between 1960 and September 1962. Of all their films, Jodorowsky's The Holy Mountain (1973) is considered the most refined example of symbolist and surrealist cinema.


  1. Surrealism
  2. Surrealismo
  3. ^ Barnes, Rachel (2001). The 20th-Century art book (Reprinted. ed.). London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 978-0-7148-3542-6.
  4. Superrealismo y superrealista son términos más apropiados en castellano, y como tal los recomienda la RAE en su diccionario, pues el prefijo sur- no existe en esta lengua; sin embargo, el uso ha impuesto las formas surrealismo y surrealista (que también recoge el DRAE, aunque remitiendo a las formas con prefijo sobre-).
  5. a b «Surrealism». The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Consultado el 3 de mayo de 2020.
  6. The 20th-Century art book (Reprinted. ed.). London: Phaidon Press. ISBN 978-0714835426.
  7. Pierre Albert-Birot donne deux fois le récit de ce moment : « Peut-être convient-il que je touche ici la question du mot surréaliste. Apollinaire, depuis plusieurs mois hésitait entre “surnaturaliste” et “surréaliste”, il employait tantôt l'un tantôt l'autre, mais avec une préférence pour “surnaturaliste”. Or Marcel Adéma dans son histoire d'Apollinaire cite une lettre du poète adressée en mars 1917 à Dermée dans laquelle une fois de plus il dit : oui je crois qu'il vaut mieux employer “surréaliste”. Mais son hésitation n'a pas cessé puisqu'en mai, quand je prépare l'impression du programme pour la représentation et que je lui dis “que mettons-nous sous le titre ?”, il me répond d'abord “drame”, mais lui objectant que la pièce demanderait à être nettement caractérisée, il me dit “mettons drame surnaturaliste”, et comme je lui fais remarquer que d'une part le mot est impropre car nous ne faisons aucunement appel au surnaturel, et d'autre part qu'il se rapproche un peu fâcheusement du “naturalisme” qui n'est pas si loin, “c'est vrai”, me dit-il, “vous avez raison, alors imprimez drame surréaliste” C'est donc bien au cours de cette conversation qu'il a définitivement choisi, le mot allait être imprimé sur le programme et ensuite sur le livre, il n'y avait plus à y revenir[18].» « Au moment de donner le texte à l'imprimeur j'ai dit à Apollinaire : “Donnez-moi le titre complet, Les Mamelles de Tirésias, oui, mais que mettons-nous dessous ? — Eh bien, drame. — Drame tout seul, ne pensez-vous pas qu'il vaudrait mieux que vous le caractérisiez vous-même, ce drame, sans quoi on va dire qu'il est cubiste. — C'est vrai, mettons drame surnaturaliste”. Je rechignais parce que je voyais là, soit un possible rattachement à l'école naturaliste, ce qui était fâcheux, soit une évocation du surnaturel, ce qui était faux. Apollinaire réfléchit deux secondes : “Alors mettons surréaliste”. Cette fois, ça y était et nous étions d'accord et contents tous les deux[19]»
  8. Keysers Grosses Stil-Lexikon Europa. 780 bis 1980. Keysersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, München 1982, ISBN 3-87405-150-1, S. 482. - Die umfassende Charakterisierung als geistige Bewegung, Lebenshaltung, Lebenskunst findet sich u. a. bei: Anja Tippner: Die permanente Avantgarde?: Surrealismus in Prag. Köln/Weimar 2009, S. 80 u. S. 267. - Ähnliches findet sich auch bei Walter Mönch: Frankreichs Kultur: Tradition und Revolte. Von der Klassik bis zum Surrealismus. Berlin/New York 1972, S. 683 ff.
  9. a b Duden, Universalwörterbuch: surreal, traumhaft-unwirklich. Surrealismus, frz. surréalisme, aus sur (von lat. super) = über und réalisme = Realismus

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