Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Great Poems of the World)

André Breton published many experimental works during his career, some of which were written in collaboration with friends. Les Champs magnétiques (1921; magnetic fields), the first Surrealist text to employ the technique of “automatic” writing, was done with Philippe Soupault. L’Immaculée Conception (1930; immaculate conception), an attempt to simulate the thought processes of various types of insanity, was written with Paul Éluard. Among the basic Surrealist documents were several works by Breton alone, such as Poisson soluble (1924; soluble fish) and Les Vases communicants (1932; the communicating vessels), which mixed lyrical elements with philosophical speculations cast in the form of prose, as well as the numerous polemical manifestos such as Manifeste du surréalisme (1924; Manifesto of Surrealism, 1969) and Second Manifeste du surréalisme (1930; Second Manifesto of Surrealism, 1969). Breton’s numerous essays were also collected in three volumes: Les Pas perdus (1924; the lost steps), Point du jour (1934), and Perspective cavalière (1970). Convenient selections from Breton’s prose in English translation have appeared in Les Manifestes du surréalisme (1955; Manifestoes of Surrealism, 1969), translated by Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane, and What Is Surrealism? Selected Writings (1978), edited by Franklin Rosemont.