Cavalier History of Surrealism


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A down-and-dirty survey of the Surrealist movement written under a pseudonym in 1970 by leading Situationist theorist Raoul Vaneigem. Intended for a high-school readership, and dashed off in two weeks, Vaneigem’s sketch bars no holds: disrespectful in the extreme, blistering on Surrealism’s artistic and political aporias, and packed with telling quotations, it also gives respect where respect is due. Locating Surrealism’s “original sin” in its ideological nature, Vaneigem clearly identifies the “radioactive fragment of radicalism” that the movement never managed completely to shed. If you want an unequivocal answer to the question, “What was living and what was dead in Surrealism?”, look no further. And for readers interested in the Situationists, this short book sheds a great deal of light on their attitudes, negative and positive, towards their Surrealist predecessors. Born in 1934 in Lessines, Belgium, Raoul Vaneigem was a member of the Situationist International from 1961 to 1970. Along with Guy Debord, he provided the main works of theory for this incredibly influential radical art group. Of his main works, the following have been translated into English: The Revolution Of Everyday Life (1967), The Book Of Pleasures (1979) and The Movement Of The Free Spirit (1986).

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