André Breton in Exile: The Poetics of

André Breton in Exile

The Poetics of "Occultation", 1941–1947, 1st Edition

By Victoria Clouston


232 pages

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Hardback: 9781472485526
pub: 2017-09-26
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pub: 2017-09-22
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Following the journey of André Breton, the leader of the Surrealist movement, into exile during the Second World War, the author of this book traces the trajectory of his thought and poetic output from 1941–1948. Through a close examination of the major – and as yet little studied – works written during these years, she demonstrates how Breton’s quest for "a new myth" for the postwar world led him to widen his enquiry into hermeticism, myth, and the occult. This ground-breaking study establishes Breton’s profound intellectual debt to 19th-century Romanticism, its literature and thought, revealing how it defined his understanding of hermeticism and the occult, and examining the differences between the two. It shows how, having abandoned political action on leaving the Communist Party in 1935, Breton nonetheless held firmly to political thought, moving in his quest for a better world via Hermes Trismegistus across the utopian ideas of Charles Fourier and the "magical" practices of the Hopi Indians. The author finally reveals Breton’s misreading of the situation in postwar Paris on his return in 1946, and his failure to communicate the span of his ideas for creating a better society while at the same time maintaining a close connection between art and life.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Breton’s Poetic Quest: With Pierre Mabille, June–July 1940

Chapter 2: Transit Marseilles: August 1940–March 1941

Chapter 3: Arrival New York: The New Direction

Chapter 4: Looking Back to the Future: Breton, Hugo, and the Poet as 'Seer'

Chapter 5: Arcane 17: Towards Mythical Harmony

Chapter 6: L’Ode à Charles Fourier: A New Social Perspective in the Wake of the 'Great Visionaries'

Chapter 7: Breton’s Situation 'at the Eye of a Storm'


About the Author

Victoria Clouston is an independent scholar based in the UK.

About the Series

Studies in Surrealism

Studies in Surrealism
With scholarly interest in Surrealism greater than ever, the Studies in Surrealism series serves as a forum for key areas of Surrealist inquiry today. This series extends the ongoing academic and popular interest in Surrealism, evident in recent studies that have rethought established areas of Surrealist activity and engagement, including those of politics, the object, photography, crime, and modern physics. Expanding and adding various lines of inquiry, books in the series examine Surrealism's intersections with philosophical, social, artistic, and literary themes. Potential subjects to be examined in the context of Surrealism include but are not limited to: nature; queer studies; humor and play; science; theory in the 1950s and 1960s; the New Novel; Surrealist activities beyond Paris. Proposals are welcomed for both monographs and essay collections dealing with the above subjects or with discussions of Surrealism in other aspects and genres. Monographic writings on artists and writers who have been generally overlooked by English-language scholarship (for instance, Victor Brauner, Toyen, Jorge Camacho) would also fall within the scope of this series.

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