Imagine, if you can, Freud and Proust sitting down for a chat with Zippy the Pinhead and the marquis de Sade. Then, just when things are starting to get a bit silly, in walks Karl Marx with a dead serious face to deliver a vitriolic diatribe. After he has finished his speech, Jacques Lacan enters and slips a couch under the narrator, who begins psychoanalyzing himself and his text. Zippy soon prevails, however, and the narrative has turned into a political allegory with characters out of Felix the Cat: a ...
Imagine, if you can, Freud and Proust sitting down for a chat with Zippy the Pinhead and the marquis de Sade. Then, just when things are starting to get a bit silly, in walks Karl Marx with a dead serious face to deliver a vitriolic diatribe. After he has finished his speech, Jacques Lacan enters and slips a couch under the narrator, who begins psychoanalyzing himself and his text. Zippy soon prevails, however, and the narrative has turned into a political allegory with characters out of Felix the Cat: a surrealist, graphic (historiographic, geographic, pornographic) version of The Romance of the Rose. Rene Crevel's 1933 novel Putting My Foot in It (Les Pieds dans le plat) has long been considered a classic of the surrealist period, but has never been translated into English until now. Loosely structured around a luncheon attended by thirteen guests, the novel is a surrealistic critique of the intellectual corruption of post-World War I France, especially the capitalist bourgeoisie and its supporter, the Catholic Church. The novel begins with an account of the family of the major character, known as the "Prince of Journalists." This bizarre family - the grandparents a soldier and a sodomized woman, the parents an orphaned epileptic and a hunchback - is matched by Crevel's bizarre syntax and vocabulary: nouns that initially appear legitimate, intact, and respectable, soon decompose into obscene epithets, making other nouns, both common and proper, suspect. The story continues in this way to deconstruct itself on many levels - literary, semantic, psychological, ideological - until the final chapter, when the luncheon degenerates in a way reminiscent of a Bunuel film and all of the novel's characters appear in a dirty movie entitled The Geography Lesson, a final metaphor for the corruption of European society between the world wars. This edition also reprints Ezra Pound's well-known essay on Crevel as a foreword, and includes an introduction by Edouard Roditi, who
Despite Andre Breton's railing against the novel, it remained Crevel's favored form--which is no doubt why Crevel remains one of the most readable surrealists. Not that this last work, first published in 1935, is a tightly constructed logical whole. Rather, it is a description of the decadent baker's dozen invited to a lunch party, among them the hypocritical homosexual Prince of Journalists; his one-time beard; her son, known as RubDubDub for his slaughtered English and onanistic proclivities; and an internationally meddlesome Hapsburg archduchess. Unlike other novelists of his period, Crevel is motivated more by polities and linguistics than by a simple desire to epater le bourgeois, and he is a beautiful writer, beautifully translated. His liquid language tumbles along, powered by his strong descriptions, by his love of Freudian wordplay--rarely is a cigar just a cigar--and by his strong Communist beliefs, oddly interpreted by Pound as a condemnation of vitiated Third Republic mores and a call for Pound's own Fascist ones. Roditi is more helpful, putting the writer in the context of his pneumonic suffering, his father's suicide following his implication in a homosexual affair, his own homosexuality in a hostile circle and his eventual suicide. (Oct.)
First published in France in 1933, and published here for the first time, this classic surrealistic novel satirizes capitalism, the Catholic Church, and fascism, using risque language and vivid, dreamlike imagery. The story takes for background the stories of the family of the ``Prince of Journalists'' and his 13 luncheon guests. Crevel creates absurd little scenes that degenerate wittily but grotesquely into sexual vignettes. Ezra Pound's foreword mistakes Crevel's message but provides a contemporary perspective, while Edouard Roditi's introduction provides more background on Crevel's life. Recommended for academic libraries.--Ann Irvine, Montgomery Cty. P.L., Md.
"First published in 1935, Crevel's surrealist novel about a decadent lunch party is beautifully written and beautifully translated.