Breton André (1896-1966), was a French writer and poet and above all the pivotal figure of the Surrealist movement which was born after the First World War. He was one of the most important literary figures of the twentieth century.
The principlesof the Surrealist movement launched by Apollinaire and Lautrémont, among others, are exposed in the ´Manifestoes of Surrealism´ published in 1969. These manifestoes are the two main theoretical texts of Breton André.
According to the online encyclopedia Encarta (2009), a manifesto is ‘a public written declaration of principles, policies, and objectives, especially one issued by a politicalmovement or candidate’. By definition and according to the definition given by Breton himself in his first manifesto (1924; 26), Surrealism is:
‘Dictionary: Surrealism, n. Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express verbally, by means of the written word, or by any other manner-the actual functioning of thought. Dictation by thought, in the absence of all controlexercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.
Encyclopedia: Surrealism. Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all theprincipal problems of life.’
Born from the break with the Dada movement in 1992, the Surrealist movement has for ambition to reconsider radically the question of the language. The movement indeed tends to unite the conscious and the unconscious in the language which up to here recovered only the realm of the conscious. More than a simple movement, the Surrealism is a way of thinking, a way ofbeing and a new way of life.
Breton’s first manifesto deals with the importance that should be given to the unconscious and the automatic writing. According to Rosemont (1978:23), ‘The experiments with automatic writing begun in 1919. For language, the experiments were electrifying.’
The following essay deals with an extract from the first ‘ Manifesto of the Surrealism’ (pp. 1-15), which wasoriginally intended to become a foreword of ‘ Soluble Fish’ (Breton, 1924) which is a collection of automatic texts.
This first manifesto marks the birth certificate of the movement by defining the major principles of the poetic writing claimed by Breton. For this last one, the art and the writing play collectively a fundamental role.
In this extract, the author tries hard to liberate thepoetic writing of the laws of the reason and the morality, in particular by the appeal to notions and concepts almost ignored at this time, such as the dream, the marvelous or still the imagination, among others.
In what did this manifesto changed the literary world on a dramatically way? How the concept of the Surrealism questioned the principles of the language? In what is this manifesto acriticism of the romantic realism and of the common language more generally? These are so many questions that this essay will try to examine.
Much more than a simple theoretical discourse, this essay shows that the writer illustrates through his argumentation a brilliant stylistic composition which leans on the surrealist thought. A linear study of this text appears me justified to examineBreton's argumentation.
Then, from this extract, I will examine in which measures and how Breton and the Surrealist movement radically questioned the linguistic.
Finally, I shall take into consideration that certain criticisms call the surrealist and its principles into question.
From the beginning, the author honors the imagination, by trying to show that it is necessary to liberate the...