Sacred Surrealism, Dissidence and International Avant-Garde Prose  book cover
1st Edition

Sacred Surrealism, Dissidence and International Avant-Garde Prose

ISBN 9780367881023
Published December 12, 2019 by Routledge
268 Pages

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Book Description

Vivienne Brough-Evans proposes a compelling new way of reevaluating aspects of international surrealism by means of the category of divin fou, and consequently deploys theories of sacred ecstasy as developed by the Collège de Sociologie (1937–39) as a critical tool in shedding new light on the literary oeuvre of non-French writers who worked both within and against a surrealist framework.

The minor surrealist genre of prose literature is considered herein, rather than surrealism's mainstay, poetry, with the intention of fracturing preconceptions regarding the medium of surrealist expression. The aim is to explore whether International surrealism can begin to be more fully explained by an occluded strain of 'dissident' surrealist thought that searches outside the self through the affects of ekstasis.

Bretonian surrealism is widely discussed in the field of surrealist studies, and there is a need to consider what is left out of surrealist practice when analysed through this Bretonian lens. The Collège de Sociologie and Georges Bataille's theories provide a model of such elements of 'dissident' surrealism, which is used to analyse surrealist or surrealist influenced prose by Alejo Carpentier, Leonora Carrington and Gellu Naum respectively representing postcolonial, feminist and Balkan locutions. The Collège and Bataille's 'dissident' surrealism diverges significantly from the concerns and approach towards the subject explored by surrealism. Using the concept of ekstasis to organise Bataille's theoretical ideas of excess and 'inner experience' and the Collège's thoughts on the sacred it is possible to propose a new way of reading types of International surrealist literature, many of which do not come to the forefront of the surrealist literary oeuvre.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Krzysztof Fijalkowski


List of Abbreviations


Part I: The Breakthrough of Dissident Surrealism

1 The Collège de Sociologie and Dissident Surrealism

Part II: The Explosion of Surrealism in Hispanic America and the Divin Fou of Natural Time

2 Hispanic American and Caribbean Surrealism and the Colligative of Alejo Carpentier’s lo real maravilloso

3 Postcolonial Dissident Surrealist Mediums: Geotemporal Conflations of the Isles of Paradise in Alejo Carpentier’s The Lost Steps

Part III: The Manifestation of Surrealism in Britain and a Sociological Divin Fou

4 The Brief Moment of British Surrealism, Its Social and Divergent Paths

5 Modalities of the Female Surrealist: The Therianthrope of the Sacred Quest in Leonora Carrington’s The Hearing Trumpet

Part IV: The Rise of Romanian Surrealism and Amour Divin Fou

6 The Balkans and the Romanian Avant-Garde: Communism in South-Eastern Europe

7 Europe’s Eastern Surrealist Meanings: The Gift of the Primordial Waters in Gellu Naum’s Zenobia

Part V: Surrealism’s Revolutionary Consciousness: The Collège de Sociologie’s Extensions to Surrealist Theory and Reading International Surrealism

8 Theorem, Theorie, Theōreō

Indicative Publication History

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Vivienne Brough-Evans is an independent scholar, UK.


'Provocative, dissident, surprising, international in focus, historically grounded: Vivienne Brough Evans' book is everything one would wish for in a study of literary surrealism and avant-garde prose. It will help redraw the map of twentieth-century literary history.' Peter Hulme, University of Essex, UK

'Through highly original readings and inspired conjunctions of literary sources, Vivienne Brough-Evans has wrought a surprising, rich and thoughtful study; she has most usefully extended the borders of surrealism as they have been drawn till now, and re-oriented concepts of the sacred and its role in imagining and making community.' Marina Warner, CBE, President, British Comparative Literature Association, UK