Surrealist Love Poems

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Mary Ann Caws
University of Chicago Press, 2001 - Poetry - 120 pages
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Love poetry includes, yes, descriptions of the beloved. And images of a fantastic idyll complete with falling stars, the sound of the sea, and beautiful countryside. In the hands of Surrealists, though, love poetry also includes gravediggers and murderers, dice and garbage, snakeskin purses and "the drunken kisses of cyclones." Surrealism, the movement founded in the 1920s on the ashes of Dada's nihilism, embraced absurdity, contradiction, and, to a supreme extent, passion and desire. From André Breton's battle cry of "Mad Love" to the quiet lyricism of Robert Desnos, Surrealist writers and artists obsessively expressed the permutations of that fundamental human state, love, and they did so with the vocabulary of the natural and unnatural world, the explicit language of sex, and a great deal of humor.

Surrealist Love Poems brings together sixty poems—many of them translated into English for the first time—by Surrealists who charged their work through with all forms of eroticism. Within these pages you will read the magnificent love poems of Desnos, which rank among the greatest in twentieth-century poetry, and hear the voices of lesser known "poets" such as Salvador Dalí and Frida Kahlo. Poems by familiar Surrealists such as Breton, the movement's leader, and Paul Eluard join work by Octavio Paz and Philippe Soupault. Interspersed with the poetry are photographs by Man Ray, Lee Miller, and Claude Cahun. Expertly and energetically translated by Mary Ann Caws, this collection seeks to demonstrate the truth of Breton's words, that "the embrace of poetry like that of bodies/As long as it lasts/Shuts out all the woes of the world."

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User Review  - tcw - LibraryThing

this is a wonderful collection of the majors and the minors of the surrealists age(s?) but even more than the pleasure of finding desnos, Eluard and the whatnot, there are a few wonderful nuggets from ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English, and French at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Among her many books are The Surrealist Look: An Erotics of Encounter and Dora Maar—with and without Picasso: A Biography,and Picasso, a new volume in Reaktion Books's Critical Lives series.

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