The Lost Steps

Overview


The Lost Steps (Les Pas perdus) is André Breton’s first collection of critical and polemical essays. Composed between 1917 and 1923, these pieces trace his evolution during the years when he was emerging as a central figure in French (and European) intellectual life. They chronicle his tumultuous passage through the Dada movement, proclaim his explosive views on Modernism and its heroes, and herald the emergence of Surrealism itself. Along the way, we are given Breton’s serious commentaries on his Modernist ...
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Overview


The Lost Steps (Les Pas perdus) is André Breton’s first collection of critical and polemical essays. Composed between 1917 and 1923, these pieces trace his evolution during the years when he was emerging as a central figure in French (and European) intellectual life. They chronicle his tumultuous passage through the Dada movement, proclaim his explosive views on Modernism and its heroes, and herald the emergence of Surrealism itself. Along the way, we are given Breton’s serious commentaries on his Modernist predecessors, Guillaume Apollinaire and Alfred Jarry, followed by his not-so-serious Dada manifestoes.

Also included are portraits of Marcel Duchamp, Francis Picabia, and Breton’s mysterious friend Jacques Vaché, as well as a crisis-by-crisis account of his dealing with Dada’s leader, Tristan Tzara. Finally, Breton offers a first glimpse of Surrealism, the movement that was forever after identified with his name and that stands as a defining force in twentieth-century aesthetics.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
“The essays show Breton at his most spontaneous, ‘in a state of perfect readiness,’ ever receptive to new experiences, seeking way so unshackling the unconscious, and very much attuned to the ‘new spirit’ he discerns. Several are indispensable to a full understanding of surrealism and its genesis. Mary Ann Caws and Mark Polizzotti provide apt and useful introductions, and the accompanying notes clarify references and word plays. The translation is careful and idiomatic.”—Choice
The Times (London)
“To this day, no one quite knows what Surrealism was, but this collection of essays by Breton, first published in 1924 when he was 28, is a good starting-point for trying to find out.”—The Times (London)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803228146
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Series: French Modernist Library Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 0.38 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 5.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Mark Polizzotti, editorial director of David R. Godine, Publisher, is the author of Revolution of the Mind: The Life of André Breton. He is also the translator of Jean Echenoz’s Double Jeopardy (Nebraska 1994) and Cherokee (Nebraska 1994) and of André Breton’s Conversations: The Autobiography of Surrealism.

Mary Ann Caws is Distinguished Professor of French at Hunter College and at the City University of New York. Her most recent work is Robert Motherwell: What Art Holds. She is the translator of André Breton’s Mad Love (Nebraska 1987) and Communicating Vessels (Nebraska 1990).

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