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📙 Surrealism and Quebec literature: History of a Cultural Revolution by André G. Bourassa — epub download


In 1948 the Quebec artist Paul-Emile Borduas published his famous manifesto Refus global—a plea on behalf of the powers of imagination and sensibility in society and a revolt against rationalization, mechanization, and other restraining influences, including the church. Borduas and his consigners were bitterly attacked. But the message of Refus global had far-reaching and revolutionary effects on the culture of Quebec and ultimately on its politics. 

André Bourassa, in this important work, underlines the role played by artists and poets during the 1940s and the relationships among various groups. But his emphasis is on the literature of Quebec, from the first novel in 1837 (also the year of Quebec’s first revolution), through the Quiet Revolution of the 1950s and 1960s, to the present. In manifestos, poems, articles, and theatre pieces he examines the nature of Quebec surrealism and its international context. 

Surrealism took three main forms in the province: one reflecting André Breton’s school of thought as defined in the manifestos from 1924 on; another more generally related to the movements such as cubism or revolutionary surrealism; and finally, the spontaneous use of surrealism in its timeless aspect—as in cathedral gargoyles and African masks, religious myths and communications with the spirit world, the dream imagery of Bosch and Goya, or the automatic writing of Achim von Arnim and Gérard de Nerval. 

An understanding of these kinds of surrealism is essential to understanding the significance of Refus global and of the events and attitudes which followed when surrealists took ideological stands, especially against Stalinism and Duplessis. 

When first published in 1977, Surréalisme et literature québécoise won immediate critical acclaim, including the Prix France-Canada. Jean Ethier-Blais, in Le Devoir, called ‘une vue spectrale, non seulement de nos lettres, mais mieux encore, de notre sensibilité.’ For this English translation, Bourassa has revised the text significantly to incorporate new insights and new information. The updated and comprehensive bibliography will be particularly valuable for anyone studying surrealism.



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